Braindead aka Dead Alive (1992)

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Mothers boy Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) lives at home under the ever watchful eye of his overbearing mother Vera (Elizabeth Moody). Vera hounds Lionel every minute of the day, getting him to do chores and constantly putting him down. Lionel longs for a better life. He gets an idea of what that might be like when he meets Paquita (Diana Penalver) who works at the local store. Lionel and Paquita fall in love and begin to spend as much time as possible together.

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Lionel and Paquita go to the zoo on a date. However not far behind is Vera, snooping and following the couple around a zoo. When Vera gets too close to one of the cages, a rat monkey reaches out and bites her arm. Later Vera begins to get very sick, with bits of her body falling off and her hunger seeking more than mere food. As Vera begins to bite and infect others, Lionely tries to keep a lid on the outbreak from his nosey neighbours and relatives. However when people come round for a party, things take a turn for the worse.

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The house becomes a bloodbath, with zombies breaking out left and right. Lionel is faced with the unenviable task of disposing of the infestation and saving the life of his beloved Paquita. This movie is a gorehound heaven. One of Peter Jackson’s (yes that one) earlier films, this needs to be seen. It’s a horror comedy that surpasses even Evil Dead II for gore and splatter. I laugh when I think of the people that sought out Peter Jackson’s back catalogue after watching Lord of the Rings, only to find this.

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This movie is not for the squeamish it must be said. It is packed to the gills with gore and some truly inventive kills. The cast seem to be having a whale of a time. The script is also brilliant, with some absolute zingers. You really need to check this out, I cannot stress that enough. It is one of the best horror comedies out there, and for a film that’s 21yrs old that ain’t half bad.

4/5

JM

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Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

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I have decided to make this my first Hellraiser review from the whole series and I’ll tell you why. This film gets a lot of shit. Even Clive Barker despises it. However I love it. The reason, or one of the reasons I love it, is because it dared to be different. Pinhead does not become the sole focus of the movie, and that’s a good thing. We’ve seen what happens when a Hellraiser movie is Pinhead-centric and the result is that fucking abomination Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. Although I think part of the reason that movie sucked ass, was mainly down to the fact that Anthony Hickox was allowed anywhere near it. That guy is the epitome of a hack. However with Hellraiser: Inferno, Scott Derrickson did a very brave thing by putting Pinhead to the back and letting the movie be a character driven piece instead, which works very well.

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Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) is thrown into a world of sex and murder when he stumbles across a mysterious puzzle box at a murder scene. Det. Thorne solves the puzzle box and begins to suffer terrible and violent hallucinations, in which he is tormented by mysterious beings known as ‘Cebobites’. Det. Thorne is assigned to the case involving a mysterious killer known only as ‘The Engineer’. The Engineer tanuts Det. Thorne by leaving a childs finger at each murder. Det. Thorne realises that the child may still be alive and races against the clock to discover the identity of The Engineer before the child is killed.

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However as Det. Thorne’s hallucinations become more violent, he realises that all may not be as it seems, and that The Engineer maybe someone very close to home. Living in a hell of his own making Det. Thorne must track the killer and find redemption, whatever the cost.

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Yes Pinhead is left till the very last before making an appearance, but like I said before I liked that. I liked that the story was a twisted morality tale, focusing on the fact that you can’t shit on people and not expect repercussions and that karma can be indeed a bitch. Don’t listen to the shit thrown at this movie. This for me is on par with the first two entries in the Hellraiser saga. Dig in and enjoy!

5/5

JM

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Commando (1985)

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When John Matrix’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by a group of mercenaries led by Bennett (Vernon Wells), John is faced with a race against the clock if he wants to see her alive again. John and Bennett used to be army buddies before John had Bennett kicked from the unit as he seemed to enjoy killing a bit too much. Now Bennett has joined forces with ex-president of Val Verde, Arius (Dan Hedaya). Arius was ousted from power by John and his team, and now wants John to help him stage a coup and win back his presidency.

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Bennett and his goons have kidnapped Jenny as an incentive for John to do as they say. John is escorted to the plane by Sully (David Patrick Kelly) and accompanied on the plane by another one of Bennett’s men. John kills the man he’s with and manages to decamp the plane before it takes off. He then sets his watch to the time it will take the plane to reach Val Verde. Knowing that once the dead body is discovered, word will get back to Bennett and he’ll kill Jenny.

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Assisting John in his plight, albeit reluctantly, is flight attendant Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong). Cindy is coerced by John to help him track Sully and try get some information on where they took Jenny. Using Sully, John slowly begins to track down the rest of the men, leading to a brutal and bloody showdown with Bennett and his small army.

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This movie is fucking awesome!!! I’m not overstating it. I just love it. For me it’s Arnie’s best role. He just cuts a bloody swathe through close to 100 men, and it rocks. No it’s not highly realistic. I mean the soldiers fire shots and nothing hits Arnie, yet he hits the target every time. But it’s fun. Fun because it’s just balls out action, and the sort of kick ass popcorn flick that sadly, I feel, Hollywood doesn’t make any more. It’s full of the obligatory cringe worthy one liners from Arnie. Vernon Wells is great as Bennett. He overacts big time and it’s wonderful. His costume however leaves a lot to be desired. Some dodgy porno tash, coupled with an ill fitting mesh vest and leather trousers and you have one of the least intimidating villains in history. Alyssa Milano doesn’t really have much to as Jenny, but Rae Dawn Chong is great as the whiny Cindy, who slowly warms to John.

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It’s good old friday night entertainment. Definitely one for a few beers and a pizza. Like I said they sadly don’t make movies like this any more as it’s all business with Hollywood. They would rather water shit down for teens, just to increase ticket sales, than give the people what they want. So enjoy this, and remember the good times.

3/5

JM

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The Name of the Rose (1986)

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William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) and his young apprentice Adso of Melk (Christian Slater) are called to an isolated abbey in the north of Italy, to investigate the mysterious death of a monk. William is greeted by the Abbot (Michael Lonsdale) and taken to the point where the body was said to have died. William investigates the death and attributes it to suicide. He is set to leave when another monk is found dead, however in circumstances which make it seem like foul play was involved.

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When the body of the victim is checked over, it shows that he has black finger tips and a black tongue. William becomes suspicious as he believes monks are being poisoned to protect a secret the abbey has kept for years. As the bodies begin to pile up, a group of inquisitor monks are called in to investigate claims of heresy, led by Bernado Gui (F. Murray Abraham). Bernado and William once worked together, but became enemies when Bernado tried to have William executed.

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William’s investigation takes him to the labyrinthine catacombs of the abbey, where all of the books are hidden. William believes that it’s man that is committing these killings, and not the work of the Devil as Bernado Gui would try to have others believe. However because William refuses to believe that it’s the work of the Devil, he too becomes a target of the inquisition, resulting in a race against time to save himself and others from being burned at the stake.

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I dig this movie. I love how bleak and desolate the landscape is, almost giving it a post-apocalyptic feel to the movie. Sean Connery is always worth watching in my opinion. He brings a real sense of intellect to the role, really drawing you into his world of somebody that really knows their shit. There are a lot of familiar faces on show here, even Ron Perlman who plays a mentally handicapped man living outside the abbey. Christian Slater is good enough in one of his early roles, although everyone pretty much plays second fiddle to Sean Connery who is just mesmerising. F. Murray Abraham is great as Bernado Gui, and really shows just how terrifying religion was back in the old days. Give it a watch.

4/5

JM

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) are at a party one night with other wealthy professionals. Bill is seen by his wife flirting with two models. Alice is seen by Bill dancing with an older man. Later that night when they return home they are relaxing on the bed smoking a joint. They begin to talk about the party. Alice asks Bill if he fucked the two models, Bill says he didn’t however Alice doesn’t believe him. Bill mentions to Alice about the older man she was dancing with, Alice says he did want to sleep with her. Bill tells her that he doesn’t believe Alice would cheat on him as women require love before giving up themselves. When Alice confesses she once thought about cheating with a Naval officer she saw one night, Bill storms out.

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As Bill wanders the streets, he finds himself coming across some strange people and situations. He attends a house call, where the deceased daughter confesses her love for Bill. Bill tells her that the recent passing of her father has played with her emotions, and that she doesn’t know what she’s saying. Bill leaves the apartment and continues on his walk around the city. He also meets a prostitute who tells Bill she wants to have sex with him but that she has AIDS. Bill tells her that he’s flattered but it couldn’t happen. Things take a sinister turn when Bill meets up with an old friend playing piano in a jazz bar. His friend, Nick (Todd Field), tells Bill that he will be playing at a sex party for the wealthy later that night. He tells Bill that he doesn’t know what goes on there as he is always blindfolded. Bill pesters Nick for details on the party as he wants to see for himself what goes on. However his quest brings him perilously close to the dark side of society, and even closer to death.

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This is one of those Stanley Kubrick films that many people hate. I however, love it. I remember hearing about it on release, mainly as it was around the same time Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were having marital problems. Kubrick directs this with the same attention to detail he brought to all of his other movies. It gets right to it, and I was utterly absorbed by Bill Harford’s descent into the seedier side of the upper classes. Okay Tom Cruise may be a fucking loon, but he is a solid actor and always brings his A game.

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This is essentially Tom Cruise’s movie. Nicole Kidman is here to further the plot in places and that’s it. I can’t really slate her acting as she doesn’t really have that much to do. The supporting cast also includes the late, great Sydney Pollack as Victor Ziegler, a wealthy lawyer with a penchant for sex. Definitely worth a look. Don’t read any of the shit Kubrick elitists give it. Pick up a copy and watch it for yourself. Enjoy!

5/5

JM

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The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

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Leon (Bradley Cooper) is a photographer working in New York. He has struggled to have his work appreciated as critics say it lacks quality. His fellow photographers also question his commitment. One night Leon is on a subway train when he notices a tall, well dressed man with a leather satchel. The man whose name is Mahogany (Vinnie Jones), is sitting in a carriage with a female. Leon falls asleep, waking up later to find that he’s alone in his carriage. He peers into the next carriage and sees Mahogany kill a woman and butcher her.

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Leon takes photos which he tries to hand to the police, however the police refuse to believe him. Even Leon’s girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb) refuses to believe him at first, only starting to believe him when she inspects the photos he has taken. Leon’s quest for information on Mahogany becomes an obsession, even tracking Mahogany to his place of work in a slaughterhouse.

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Leon suspects that the police are covering for Mahogany, coming to the realisation that he will have to follow Mahogany on the Midnight Meat Train and put a stop to the slaughter himself. All ending with a killer twist. This is such a great horror. How it didn’t get a cinema release is beyond me. I had already read the short story by Clive Barker so I knew what was coming, even so the movie was better than I’d hoped.

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Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Azumi), this is one of the best horrors I’ve seen. Packed full of great gore and some awesome scares. The cast were on top form, yes even Vinnie Jones. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Vinnie Jones actually wasn’t shit. Okay he doesn’t speak in the role as Mahogany, but his presence is menacing, he really carries himself well. Bradley Cooper is great as Leon, and you believe the changes his character takes during the course of the movie. Well worth checking out.

4/5

JM

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Frequency (2000)

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John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) is a New York cop. Ever since he was a kid growing up in Queens he wanted to be a cop. He wanted to make his father Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) proud, who was a firemen killed in a warehouse fire in 1969. Now 1999 it’s coming up to the anniversary of his fathers death. John and his friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich) begin to search through Frank’s old things. They dig out Frank’s old ham radio and begin to toy around with it. Suddenly another voice comes over the radio. The man on the other end tells John that he too lives in Queens. They begin to talk about baseball and the upcoming games. The other man corrects John on his baseball knowledge, telling him that the games haven’t been played yet. John tells him that it’s 1999 and that the games were played 30yrs ago.

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The man asks John to identify himself, telling him that whatever joke he’s playing it isn’t funny. John tells him his name, suddenly realising that the man he’s talking to is his dad Frank Sullivan. It seems a strange phenomena in the sky has interfered with the radio signals, bridging a gap through time. John warns Frank that he died in a warehouse fire in 1969. John tells Frank to take a different route out of the burning building. Frank survives but has inadvertently caused a ripple effect through time which means that now John’s mother Julia Sullivan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has been killed. John and Frank find out that Julia was murdered by the Nightingale killer, a serial killer who has been murdering nurses.

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Together John and Frank seek to uncover the killers identity and try change the course of history again. John investigating in the present time, and Frank tracking the killer in the past. John’s supervisor Satch (Andre Braugher) thinks John is crazy, and back in 1969, arrests Frank for the Nightingale murders.

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I’m the first to admit that the story is very far fetched. But once again we have here a film that completes its mission of entertaining you, and that’s all I ask. The cast give it everything, The story, as far fetched as it is, is very tense. You want to see how it plays out and you’re willing Frank and John to be reunited. This is another one that I know flew under a lot of peoples radar. However that being said, it is also one I seriously recommend. It has some great effects and a killer story.

4/5

JM

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Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

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In terms of ‘cult movies’, you don’t get more cult than Don Coscarelli’s  horror comedy ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’. Based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, this movie plays with the ‘what if’ scenario of Elvis and if he is still alive. Here we have an aging Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell, who is now living in a retirement home under the name Sebastian Haff. Sebastian claims that he is in fact the real Elvis, and that many years ago he swapped places with an Elvis impersonator as he was growing weary of the celebrity lifestyle and wanted a break. However before he could swap back places with the impersonator, the impersonator died.

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Now Elvis is living out his days in a retirement home, worrying about a possibly cancerous growth he has on his “pecker”. He spends his days perving at the nurses and visitors, all while dreaming of his old life and what could have been had he not switched places. Elvis also spends most of his spare time with an ageing black gentleman called Jack (Ossie Davis) who believes he is in fact the real JFK who was dyed black and had his brain replaced with a bag of sand. All very odd, but enjoyably so.

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Their ‘tranquillity’ is interrupted with the appearance of an ancient Egyptian mummy, who is stalking the halls sucking the souls of those who are close to death. At first Elvis doesn’t believe it, but when he sees the mummy for himself, he knows that he and Jack need to spring to action. Leading to a final battle between good and evil. The story is brilliantly told. It’s full of great comic timing, chills and a poignancy that I found quite un-expecting. It deals with longing and folks looking for a chance at redemption. Even if all of those around them have forgotten, they want to prove to themselves they still have something to offer.

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Bruce Campbell is awesome in the role of Elvis/Sebastian. He really does show that he has some decent acting chops. Ossie Davis as Jack/JFK has some brilliant lines to deliver, which he does so with relish. The effects are a bit cheesy, but on a moderate budget they are good enough. Don Coscarelli has always, for me anyway, been a great director. He manages to expertly balance his ambition with whatever budget he has, resulting in some very entertaining fare. I did hear a rumour of a sequel, but apparently there were problems between Bruce Campbell and Don Coscarelli which is sad. I for one would love to see Bubba Nosferatu. Apparently Ron Perlman was being lined up to take the Elvis role, but how true that is I don’t know. Also if anyone is wondering why there are no actual Elvis songs in the movie, it’s because the cost of using even one song would have sucked the budget dry. This is well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Very entertaining stuff.

4/5

JM

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Lady in White (1988)

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One Halloween a young boy named Frankie Scarlatti (Lukas Haas) tells a scary story to his classmates. Frankie has a vivid imagination and likes to write stories. After school, two bullies grab Frankie’s hat and throw it into the class cloakroom. The bullies tell Frankie where he can find it. However when Frankie goes to get his hat, the bullies lock the door behind him. Frankie is locked inside the cloakroom where it begins to get dark. As it gets dark Frankie sees the ghost of a young girl being attacked by an unseen force then vanish. Somebody comes into the cloakroom and begins to look around. When Frankie makes a noise, the unknown person attacks Frankie and he blacks out.

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Frankie finds out that the spirit he saw was of a little girl that was taken from the school years before and murdered. Several other children were also murdered in the following years but the killer was never found. When Frankie blacked out he had a vision of the girl whom he spoke to. She asked Frankie to help her find her mother.

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As Frankie begins to dig further into the vision of the spirit and the other murdered children, he realises that the killer might be someone very close to home. All of it having something to do with the mysterious ‘Lady in White’ who lives by the cliffs. This movie is very eerie. I remember seeing it a very long time ago now, and I remember it scaring me. Not that it has many jumpy moments, but rather it’s just a really well put together ghost story.

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Lukas Haas is brilliant as Frankie. Alex Rocco is also great as Frankie’s dad Angelo, and the great Len Cariou plays the family friend Phil. The effects of the ghosts can be a bit ropey in places, but the story is so well told that it would be cruel of me to really mark it down for that. If you have never seen this movie, then I urge you to track down a copy and give it a watch. It really is a creepily good movie.

4/5

JM

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