Bunker of the Dead

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Calling all lovers of horror. Arrow Films have a very special event taking place on 25th April. See below for details from the press release.

We’re very pleased to be teaming up with SCI-FI-LONDON festival to present an evening of ghoulish delight, featuring the UK premiere of Canadian chiller BUNKER 6 alongside a screening of the underground-set zombie classic DAY OF THE DEAD! But that’s not the really scary part – in keeping with the bunker theme, the entire evening will unfold within the creepy confines of a genuine World War II bunker in Dalston, North East London. Have you got the guts to descend into the dark, dank recesses below the streets of the capital and face your gravest fears? And, assuming you make it that far, will you be able to hold onto those guts of yours when you encounter the flesh-hungry living dead which lurk deep in the bunker’s bowels???

DATE: FRIDAY 25th APRIL
TIME: 6:30PM
PLACE: ABBOT ST, LONDON E8 3DP (nearest tube Dalston Kingsland, Overground)

JM

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The Untold Story (1993)

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Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Wong) is the owner of the Eight Immortals Restaurant in Macao. His establishment makes the finest pork buns anywhere, but just what exactly *is* inside those tasty buns? After a slew of body parts wash up on the beach Officer Lee (Danny Lee) and his team are led to the Eight Immortals Restaurant, and begin to wonder just how Wong Chi Hang came to be the proprietor.

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A series of flashbacks shed some light on the grisly reality of how Wong Chi Hang came to run the restaurant. After cheating the owner at Mahjong, he butchered the owner, his wife and their kids, so that he could own the restaurant. As the police investigate what happened to the previous owners, Wong tries to cover his tracks, dispatching anyone that might expose him.

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This is one seriously twisted movie. I have long heard of the extreme nature of the Category III movies from Asia, but never expected them to be like this. Seriously, the things that are shown here would never be allowed in Hollywood. Anthony Wong is a tour-de-force as Wong Chi Hang, so it comes as no surprise that he won an award for his role. The movie pulls no punches in terms of gore, bodies are gutted and mutilated by Wong, and you don’t even want to know what he does with a bunch of chopsticks, honestly, I knew there was a reason I use a knife and fork. The team of officers do come off as bumbling, and they’re more like the comic relief. Danny Lee begins every scene he is in with some bit of skirt on his arm, which was funny, but didn’t fit in with the overall tone of the movie. I found that it was quite jarring in terms of tone, and that the film would have worked better if it was all played straight.

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It is definitely worth a watch if you can get your hands on it. It is really shocking though, the raw intensity that Anthony Wong brings to his role really is a sight to behold. The guy is a legend of Asian cinema, and he is hands down one of my favourite Asian actors. However it is not for the squeamish, so if you don’t like gore, steer well clear.

4/5

JM

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What Monsters Do (2012)

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Well. Allow me to catch my breath, such is the speed at which these tales unfurl. I have to say my hands are still a mite clammy. With this, his first collection, Nicholas Vince as shown what a dab hand he is at wringing tension from situations that you can imagine would be scary, but not like this. From the first story (Family Tree), where blood ties are put to the test, to the last tale (The Beast In Beauty), a tale of Satanism and almost overbearing sensuality.

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Well will know Nicholas Vince from his role in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser movies as the ‘Chatterer Cenobite’. A character which cements itself in movie folklore with his scarred visage all mangled and bloody, with the teeth constantly making that sound. Another iconic role, which I’m sure many will agree, was Nicholas’ role as Kinski in Clive Barker’s ‘Nightbreed’. The crescent moon shaped face another eye catching design which stays with you.

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However, I am so glad that the talented actor Nicholas Vince, has now decided to also become the talented author and playwright Nicholas Vince. Going to show that you can never have enough splendid feathers in your cap. The collection of short stories in ‘What Monsters Do’ leave such an impression on me that I have already started devouring his second collection called ‘Other People’s Darkness’. The review of that will follow soon. I urge everyone to seek a copy of this wonderful collection out, it is the perfect reading material for bedtime, the journey to work or even just reading a short story on your tea break. Folks who read my reviews of movies and books will know I do not blow smoke up people’s arse, and that I am brutally honest. So it’s worth knowing that I truly enjoyed these macabre tales, and recommend them to everyone. I would like to thank the wonderful Nicholas Vince for graciously providing me with a copy of the book, which is now available via Amazon UK in Kindle or paperback.

5/5

JM

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White of the Eye (1987)

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A series of grisly murders rocks the area of Tucson, Arizona. Beautiful women have been found mutilated in their homes, some with parts missing. As Detective Mendoza (Art Evans) investigates the crime, his attention becomes quickly drawn to Paul White (David Keith), a local sound engineer that works in the area. As the finger of suspicion keeps getting pointed at Paul, he protests his innocence, but his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) begins to see through the façade and uncover some incriminating clues of her own.

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Director Donald Cammell (Performance) never directed many movies, before his suicide in1996 aged 62, but his films had a very trippy style all of their own. White of the Eye is full of strange symbolism, mainly focusing on American Indian rituals, and some intense imagery. However the film is not without it’s faults. To begin with, the editing is all over the place. One minute it’s present day, the next it’s showing a flashback scene. Yet the editing is so jarring that at first I was a little thrown as to what I was watching.

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The actual murders are not really shown on screen, leaving a lot to the imagination. Instead the director decides to focus on the eye of the killer watching his victims breathe their last breath. The camera also likes to focus on glass smashing, and the splash of wine and sauce take the place of the blood that is also being spilt. It’s not pretentious at all,  but instead gives the murders an almost artistic quality. We don’t see the act itself, instead we see what the victim sees, the white of the killers eye.

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David Keith plays the part of the opera loving, sound engineer Paul White very well. He brings a raw intensity to the role, really believing his characters place in the world. Cathy Moriarty is also very good as the inquisitive wife, who slowly comes to the realisation that she really doesn’t know the man she lives with quite as much as she thinks. I have to say this however. The actress that plays the child Danielle White (Danielle Smith) looks a tad strange. There’s no other way to put it. The two front teeth unsettled me, you have to see the movie to understand. I watched this movie on blu ray (available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk), and the transfer is immaculate. The extras are great and include a feature length documentary directed by Kevin McDonald and also a short film which was directed by Cammell in 1972. All in all a great package for a good film. Also as I was in a retro mood after talking to my buddies at http://www.80spicturehouse.co.uk on twitter, I thought I’d include the old VHS poster below. Enjoy!

3/5

JM

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Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

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Years ago Richard (Paddy Considine) left his home town and his younger brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell), who is mentally challenged, to join the army. He returns to his home town to find that while he was away a group led by Sonny (Gary Stretch) tortured and bullied his brother. Now that he’s back, he goes around town with his brother, finding those responsible and making them pay.

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The treatment suffered by Anthony is told in flashbacks, which are interspersed with the main story. When the gang hear that Richard has returned, the look of fear that rushes across their faces suggest something far darker than what is being shown. As Richard works his way through the gang we slowly see the horrifying extent of the terrible treatment Anthony suffered, all leading to one of the most gut punching endings to any movie ever.

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This is without a doubt one of my favourite movies. Directed by Shane Meadows (This Is England), is brilliantly acted and full of menace throughout. The acting is top notch. Having actors from the area the film was made really lends a sense of realism to proceedings. Paddy Considine as Richard has never been better. Toby Kebbell’s acting as Anthony is so believable that I actually thought he had mental health issues, partly down to the fact that this was the first movie I had seen him in.

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The scenes of violence, though few, are brutal and bloody. Watching Anthony suffer the torment at the hands of Sonny and his gang really is heartbreaking. This is all down to the fantastic acting of everyone involved. There are also some brilliant bits of comedy which go some way to alleviating some of the overwhelming darkness that permeates through the movie. Like I said it is one of my favourite movies, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend. I had been meaning to review this film for so long but just never got round to it. I cannot recommend it enough, it really is a brilliant movie. Brual, gritty and fantastically acted.

5/5

JM

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Dolls (1987)

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When little Judy Bower (Carrie Lorraine), her father David (Ian Patrick Williams) and step-mother Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) become stranded in a storm after their car gets stuck in the mud, they seek solace in a nearby mansion. The owners of the mansion, doll maker Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his wife Hilary (Hilary Mason) tell the family they are more than welcome to stay the night until the storm passes. Suddenly another group of people burst into the house from the storm. Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee) and the two hitch-hikers he picked up, Isabel (Bunty Bailey) and Enid (Cassie Stuart) are also told they are welcome to stay the night.

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Gabriel tells Judy of the elves that also live inside the house, telling her they are not to be feared as they like to play with children. Judy, who has a vivid imagination listens intently. But as the night goes on Ralph and Judy begin to see that Gabriel is not lying, and that those who would seek to to bad things, will suffer the wrath of the dolls.

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Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) this film moves along at a fairly brisk pace. It’s also not the longest of films, clocking in at just 77mins. Stephen Lee who plays Ralph does so with a real childlike innocence, which when you see the movie was most probably the point. He brings charm to the role and it’s a shame he doesn’t do more mainstream work. The two hitch-hikers Enid and Isabel are woefully acted, so it’s not exactly surprising that the two actresses in question never made more than 5 films between them. Their English accents are atrocious and one would think they learned their accents at the Dick Van Dyke School of Linguistics.

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The SFX of the dolls is actually quite impressive and almost comical at times. There are moments when you see the dolls discussing something that really made me laugh. I think special mention should also go to 101 Films who have done a sublime transfer for the blu ray. Sadly the release is devoid of extras, but is still very much recommended and worth picking up for fans of 80’s horror. This copy of Dolls was graciously provided by the kind folks over at http://www.101-films.com, and is available now from all good stockists.

4/5

JM

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Sparks (2013)

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Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson) has never felt normal. But he has always had a strong sense of justice. After his parents die, Ian takes on the mantle of Sparks, and becomes a masked vigilante hell bent on ridding the city of crime. However it will come at a price. As sometimes it turns out that the hunter is actually the hunted, something the leading villains of the city will make Ian Sparks all too aware of.

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However Sparks is not alone in his battle against the scum of the city. He teams up with Lady Heavenly (Ashley Bell), another masked vigilante that has her own reasons for wanting to rid the city of evil. Sparks also has a guardian angel called Archer (Clancy Brown), who has been watching Sparks for years, waiting for the right time to come out and show Sparks his true potential. All culminating in a brutal and bloody battle for the soul of the city.

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You know I was pleasantly surprised with this one, and that’s the truth. I had heard nothing about the film, but I loved Chase Williamson in John Dies At The End and I’ve always been a fan of Clancy Brown who is a great character actor, so was eager to see how they fare here. I must say they do very well. The film as a noir-ish feel to it, very reminiscent of Sin City. The violence is bone crunching and the script a lot better than most of the rubbish that gets sent straight to DVD.

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The supporting cast of Jake Busey, William Katt and Clint Howard also play their parts really well. The camera work can be a little off at times and the blue screen effects do feel a little weak, but for something that was done on a relatively low budget, it really isn’t that bad. I would say it’s well worth a watch.

3/5

JM

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THE FAMILY (Luc Besson, 2013) – The Burford Review

The Cinema Cynic

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Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones

Genre: Drama/ Comedy

The Manzoni family, very much a New York mafia family, are forced to constantly relocate under a witness protection programme after the head of the family (De Niro) snitched on his fellow gangsters. Their latest home is in a sleepy town in Normandy, and despite being under the watchful eye of agent Robert Stansfield (Jones); they cannot avoid their old habits and particular methods of justice on unsuspecting locals. This is why they are constantly being moved, but this time their actions may just finally reveal their cover to those that want to kill them.

I know Tommy Lee Jones has made a career of playing miserable characters, but in the case of his performance in The Family I am not sure he is even acting. It is most definitely a feeling I shared with Agent Kay as

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Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

blood4It’s the year 2127 and Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is on a mission. His mission is to undo the mistakes of his ancestors and close shut the gates of hell, which were opened when Phillip L’Merchant (also Bruce Ramsay) created that famous toy box. After the box is given to a rich aristocrat it is used to raise a demon which will control the world. However things go awry and the demon takes on the form of a peasant girl Angelique (Valentina Vargas). Phillip L’Merchant takes the box and runs. Through the centuries Pinhead (Doug Bradley) has tracked and killed the Merchant bloodline, looking for the box.

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Dr. Paul Merchant is telling the marines on the space station about his mission, and what needs to be done. He tells them that for so long his bloodline have tried and failed to close the gates. Now Pinhead and his new cenobites have been unleashed in space, but all is not lost. Now Dr. Paul Merchant has Pinhead where he wants him, and the trap has been set.

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This movie was plagued with problems during production. The director is listed as Alan Smithee but was actuall Kevin Yagher who worked on some of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. The studio butchered the movie in his opinion, so he asked to be credited as Alan Smithee which is a pseudonym directors take when the don’t want to be credited with something they see as not being their vision.

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That being said, I really like this movie. Sure the script is wooden in places, but the space setting really lends itself to the Hellraiser mythos and there is some great gore. Doug Bradley is still great as the villainous Pinhead, and really delivers each line with relish. I don’t agree with all the hate this movie gets and I think if you like the Hellraiser movies and you’ve never seen it, then it’s well worth a watch.

4/5

JM

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Formula for a Murder (1985)

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Joanna (Christina Nagy) is a wealthy philanthropist who was confined to a wheelchair after suffering an attack at the hands of a psychotic person dressed as a priest when she was a girl. She spends most of her time at her centre for paraplegics which she owns. She meets a handsome trainer at the centre called Craig (David Warbeck) and they enter into a whirlwind romance, where Craig proposes.

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Craig however has other plans, which is actually touched on very early on in the movie. His intention is to scare Joanna to death so that he can get his hand on her money, and he is prepared to gruesomely dispatch anyone that should get in his way. Though Craig’s motive is revealed quite early on, there is still plenty of suspense and some fantastically bloodthirsty deaths. For some strange reason David Warbeck’s voice has been dubbed over by some random American actor, which is sad as I really like David’s voice. However it does nothing to really dampen the film, which is right up there with some of the other well known giallo’s.

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The camera work is done really well, with some great POV shots. I love that it uses some of the music from The New York Ripper, and has usual giallo nods like the killer wearing black leather gloves. It’s also refreshing to see David Warbeck play the villain, and he does so with oozes of charisma. I must say Shameless Films have done a wonderful job in terms of restoration on what was long feared to be a lost movie.

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There supporting roles are filled quite admirably, but this film really belongs to David Warbeck and Christina Nagy, who really get into their roles and deliver some fantastic performances. This copy of Formula for a Murder was provided by the wonderfully generous folks over at http://www.shameless-films.com. The movie is now available to buy and you can do so directly from the Shameless Films website. Its’ well worth getting a copy which also comes with your very own yellow mac, should you decide to go on a murderous spree of your own….I jest of course.

4/5

JM

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