Youth (2017)

Youth, takes a look at the lives of a group who are members of a Military Cultural Troupe in 1970’s China. Over the course of the movie friends find love, but the death of Chairman Mao throws the country into chaos. The innocence of youth is then stripped away on the battlefield, and life for these young people will never be the same again.

The director, Xiagang Feng, really captures the period well. The lives of these young men and women is shown to be an enjoyable one. Communism and politics is always there, but never becomes the focal point of the movie…well at least not for the first half.

It’s uplifting to see these young people enjoy their time together, having fun and finding love, all while the threat of civil unrest looms. To then see their lives thrown into complete disarray, and for the reality of their situation dawn on them, is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because I felt they were essentially forced into fighting. They act or they die. This was a regime where independent thought was not welcomed at all. So to watch friends torn apart, it is sad to see.

All the time you can see each of those young men and women yearn for the past to be the present. For the ‘good old days’ to be here again. It’s never a case of nostalgia taking over, it’s just the desire for life to be simple again. I think we can all identify with that, especially with society as it is today. You want to go back to when things were easier to understand, to when life never felt so complicated. ‘Youth’ captures that feeling in a very bittersweet way. The horrors of war are never underplayed either, which makes it all the more painful to know that those men and women will never return to the way it was.

4/5

JM

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The Night of the Virgin (2016)

Nico, a naive 20yr old man, sets out on New Year’s Eve to lose his virginity. He comes across a mature woman called Medea, who invites him back to her apartment. What follows is a night Nico will never forget….if he lives to remember it.

From the big lettered opening title, this has a real late 80’s midnight movie feel to it. It doesn’t take long for the craziness to start and once it does, it doesn’t let up. I’ve heard a few liken this to early Peter Jackson’s work, and I am inclined to agree. Blood and other bodily fluids hit the screen with wild abandon.

Javier Bódalo who plays Nico has a great geeky quality that makes you root for him and will him to survive. He’s like a Spanish McLovin, someone who has a exudes an inner confidence that his outer appearance doesn’t live up to.

Destined for cult status, The Night of the Virgin is a great gore filled horror to watch on a Friday night, post pub and pre takeaway. Its one I definitely recommend.

4/5

JM

Pyewacket (2017)

Pyewacket stars Nicole Munoz as Leah, a teenage girl frustrated at her life after her mother decides to uproot and move out into the countryside. In an act of desperation, Leah summons a demon called Pyewacket to kill her mother, however later has a change of heart. But Pyewacket has already been summoned, and it won’t go away empty handed.

Superbly crafted and dripping with tension, Pyewacket is a slow burner. Time is taken to get to know each of the characters, and to understand Leah’s frustration at being separated from her friends and been taken out of her comfort zone. It also shows that if you do believe in black magic and the occult, then you really shouldn’t take it lightly and should always be careful what you wish for.

Leah and her friends feel like real people, still in that moody teenager phase and treating black magic as a novelty. Leah’s petulant reaction over having to move house also seems like something a typical teenager would do. Nothing ever feels cliche or run of the mill. It’s refreshing to watch a horror movie that is true horror, and treats the audience with respect, rather than resorting to cheap jump scares and the like.

The final third is very impressive, and whilst the horror is stepped up, it never loses its identity and caves to typical horror tropes. The ending will be talked about for a long time. A horror movie that is genuine terror all the way through and teaches you to never mess with things you don’t understand.

4/5

JM

Bruce Lee – LEGEND

Bruce Lee will always be a legend. His skill is unmatched, even today. There have been many collections of his movies, but this has got to be one of the most stunning sets ever. 

House in faux leather, and containing four of his movies, plus a documentary, this set is a rare find. Made by Spectrum DVD, a Korean company, this is a set that very rarely ever shows up for sale anywhere. Now you have a chance, as it’s up for sale on eBay. Click the link below to view:

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F322938303685

A seriously rare set that any serious Bruce Lee fan owes it to themselves to have. 

JM

Frightfest interview with Barbara Crampton 

Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress & producer BARBARA CRAMPTON talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.

Q: REPLACE raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?

The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight just by LOOKING at your food. Let’s be frank: Aging sucks! But it also gives you a calendar to get things done. If we had an abundance of time we might be sloths putting off everything and accomplishing nothing. To me the best thing you can do is to live in each moment as successfully as possible. That translates to all areas of your life, personal, career and lifestyle choices. 

I am not immune however to feeling the anxiety of it all and I do believe most of us lack a grace about allowing nature and gravity to happen. We are collectively obsessed with youth and beauty that’s a problem.

Q: Co-writer/director Norbert Keil says he got the idea for Replace after going to hospital for a back operation. Was that something you could empathise with – the feelings of mortality raised when in such a medical environment?

It wasn’t a medical environment that did it for me but rather a chronic illness. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome 12 years ago after a parasite I had went undiagnosed for 9 months. I was literally in bed for 2 years. The worst time of my life. I was confronted with the fear of the termination of my long term health. Some people live with CFS and never recover. The medical community is still baffled by the syndrome. For me it was quite possibly that my immune system was acting in overdrive, first to rid itself of the parasite and then not being able to turn itself off when the parasite was eradicated. One doctor saved me. Per his instructions I had to become a model patient and test every part of my being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I worked on every system to lubricate every aspect. I actually healed things I didn’t realize needed work. Finally my body calmed down and recovered. At one point though, when I was at my lowest, I thought, “Is this it? I haven’t done enough yet!” After I was better, that’s when I started working harder on everything, including my appreciation for being here.


Q: Doctor Rafaela Crober was a part originally written for a man, so what if anything changed in the script to accommodate your feminine side?  

Not too much. A few pieces of dialogue here and there. Science is not male or female and the quest for longevity, which is really what Dr. Crober is interested in, transcends gender.

Q: You’ve said you wanted to play Doctor Crober as someone in full control, can you elaborate?

Crober is playing with science too, albeit for different reasons than Kira, her patient. She has to be so sure of herself and where she thinks the journey will take mankind to pursue such lofty goals. Saying more would give too much away if you haven’t seen the film.


Q: Richard Stanley was a co-writer on Replace. Were you familiar with his work and reputation and did he attend the shooting?

Of course, his reputation is legendary. Richard is a fascinating visionary, an artist. He got a very raw deal on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Fortunately people in the industry realize this and he has some great opportunities coming up. Long overdue. 

Q: Replace is such a visually stunning movie with a very precise look. How does seeing that magic happening around you colour your performance? 

To be honest I did not visualize the movie as it was (in the finished film) while on set. I had a picture in my mind when I read the script that was very subjective to my character. The visuals blew me away when I saw the final finished film. It makes sense though I think, that the visuals are so beautiful and striking, as the movie is from the mind of protagonist Kira. She’s looking for beauty to support the needs of her soul.


Q: The film has an early David Cronenberg feel, did director Norbert Keil discuss any body horror influences or inspirations with you? 

Cronenberg was a very direct influence. And I think the themes of Richard’s work on The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Q: You have now been a guest at many of the world’s fantasy festivals. And this is your second time at FrightFest. Why are these events so important and what makes FrightFest stand out?

I am so grateful to back in the film community and to be fortunate enough to travel to Fests where audiences support and love genre cinema. We are in a transitional period though I believe and festivals for film are one of the only things keeping us alive, supporting new film makers. Film fests are sometimes your only theatrical release so it is of great importance to have your film shown at one that audiences will hopefully love and a distribution company will hopefully buy. FrightFest has a very saavy audience and a very vocal one. You want people to cheer for you and have journalists write a nice review to get distribution companies to make you an offer! 


Q: You’re more prolific in the genre than ever. You had four movies showing at FrightFest in 2015 and you have another four in post-production. You are clearly enjoying it more this time around? 

I’m having a ball really while enjoying the work in a way I never did before. I’m much more relaxed about my place in the business and I enjoy helping others realize the same dreams I had at a young age. I am invested in each project I work on even if I’m not involved in a producer capacity. I want to help others create the best film they possibly can.

Q: You’ve chosen to be a mentor for FrightFest & MPI Media’s NEW BLOOD Initiative. Is supporting new genre writers an important mission for you?

I am passionate about having the best script possible to begin the journey to creating a film. I do think that too many times the script isn’t as good as it could be and “people” forgive themselves too soon about that and forge ahead with submitting a script or filming without being completely ready. The script is your foundation, spend lots of time on it. I love writers. They have the capacity for insight and understanding of human nature, of people’s vulnerabilities, strengths and desires. When I read a great script with characters I care about, I fall in love with the writer a little bit.

I feel I can help a lot with the development process of a screenplay. Character is story and story is character. The journey that an actor will take in the story is something I am very familiar with and have worked on a lot. The script is the very first thing you begin with, so let’s get that right first. Then we can discuss the importance of making a great first impression with your freshman effort if you want to direct it as well. It used to be that you made a film and people in charge would see “promise” in you and you’d be able to move on to your next movie. That’s becoming harder and harder for a lot of reasons. Make the best damn first film you can.

My friend, esteemed journalist and film critic, Steve Prokopy said to me recently, “20% of all movies are truly great or really awful. The rest exist in a grey zone of average, above average or below average.”  What kind of movie do you want people to say you’ve made? Impressions are important on a first date and a first movie.


Q: You’re increasingly becoming involved in films as a producer. Do you feel this is a natural progression in your career?

At this point in my life and career it depends on the project. If I really love something I’ll want to work on it. For me a story needs a strong narrative with an emotional core. That’s what my sensibilities are attracted to. I really love acting and I do enjoy helping others realize their dream.

Q: Finally, what’s next?

I have two projects that I’m actively working on to produce. One, I may have an acting part in as well. There are also a few movies which I shot in the last two years or so as an actor only and they are still in various stages of post-production. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you next year on the fest circuit with one of those!

 

REPLACE receives its UK Premiere on Sunday 27 Aug, 3.30pm at The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, as part of Horror Channel FrightFest 2017. Barbara is also a mentor for the FrightFest / MPI Media UK script writing talent search NEW BLOOD.

 

 

The Audi and the Alien

The Moonrover Audi Lunar Quattro celebrates its film debut in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbuster “Alien: Covenant” this week, ahead of its impending mission to the Moon next year.

The Audi lunar Quattro has been developed in cooperation with Berlin-based start-up Part-Time Scientists. Over the past two years, the automobile manufacturer has worked with a team led by Robert Böhme – founder and CEO of Part-Time Scientists – in developing the rover, by supplying all-wheel drive technology, expertise in lightweight construction, experience in developing vehicles with electric and plug-in hybrid motors (e-tron), and with design optimization.

Director Ridley Scott has integrated the Audi lunar quattro into “Alien: Covenant,“ the latest instalment of his ground-breaking “Alien” franchise. In its film debut, the rover is an integral part of the Covenant mission; deployed to help navigate and assess the challenging, unknown terrain of a new planet.

Incorporating the Audi lunar quattro into the film is part of a collaboration between Twentieth Century Fox and Audi – allowing filmmakers to incorporate authentic, leading-edge technology into their futuristic worlds. As part of the collaboration, a short film was also created by Twentieth Century Fox, 3AM and Audi. Captured on one of the movie’s biggest sets, it depicts the rover patrolling the Terraforming Bay when it detects an unidentified lifeform and goes to investigate what lurks in the dark. 

Watch “Alien: Covenant x Audi lunar quattro” here: http://youtu.be/5fEmCnSt gac

Check out the Audi Rover in some new footage from ‘Alien: Covenant’ via the link below:


 Additional information:

The Audi lunar quattro is 85% aluminium
The majority of its components have been produced using a 3D printing method at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt

High-strength lightweight construction has resulted in developers reducing the weight of the exploration vehicle by 23% to just 30kgs

A 60-degree pivoting 100W solar panel supplies the rover with energy and powers its efficient e-tron motor

For more on the story of the Audi lunar quattro’s origins visit http://www.audi.com/mission

Jonathan McEvoy 

Hot Toys First Order Jakku Stormtrooper – Sideshow Collectibles Exclusive (2017)

Straight away, you can see the reason Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles are so sought after. Everything about both companies just shows you that the people who make these wonderful collectibles, are just as a much of a fan as we are. 

Everything is squared away so neatly that it’s almost a shame to disturb it. It’s like I want to savour it and not let it be tainted by outside air. It’s very well protected too, and I’ve yet to hear of anyone who purchases a sixth scale figure, receiving it damaged.

The detail is nothing short of incredible. Honestly I cannot believe it. Under the white armour, there’s a faux leather that covers the hips and thighs. You can remove sections of the armour with ease, and replace it just as easily too. The stitching around the shoulder harness is immaculate and really well put together. 


The backpack is magnetic and clicks on with ease. No awkward shoving into holes like the G.I. Joe toys of old, which is a nice change. The sculpting on the Stormtrooper is spot on, and it looks exactly like it does in the movies. Everything about the armour is immaculate, and the brilliant white just glisten. 

Included with the stormtrooper are a small laser pistol and rifle, plus binoculars. The binoculars can fold away and the rifle has a buttstock that can be altered. There are 3 pairs of hands plus the ones that are on the stormtrooper. They allow you to have clenched fists, hold the guns or binoculars, or just have open palms.


The base has wonderful detail, and two indents where the stormtrooper can place his feet. The plaque is a nice touch too. 

I would like to thank the wonderful folks at http://www.sideshowtoy.com for providing me this item to review. It is available to order now with free shipping inside the U.S. To order click on the link below:

https://www.sideshowtoy.com/collectibles/star-wars-first-order-stormtrooper-jakku-exclusive-hot-toys-902579/

Jonathan McEvoy 

Manhattan Baby (1982)


When an archaeologist, Dr. George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) opens a tomb in Egypt, he unleashes an evil spirit which latches onto his young daughter. Upon the family’s arrival in New York, a series of grisly murders and strange occurrences begin to take place. 

An amulet which is give to the young girl may hold the secret to the identity of the spirit and how the family can free themselves from its clutches. This is certainly a strange movie, and it looks very dated. The effects are certainly ropey in places, which I believe was down to the production company not getting all of the budget they requested. 


Lucio Fulci had a good few movies out during the 80’s and a lot of them are cult classics like The Beyond, The New York Ripper and Zombie Flesh Eaters to name but a few. Sadly this is not up there with his greatest hits. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, because it is, but it’s just not as memorable. It’s nice to see Lucio Fulci use proper locations to tell the story, rather than wooden sets, and the cast give 100% in every scene.   

There is some decent gore on offer, one place where Fulci has always delivered in my humble opinion. I did notice that it stars that annoying blonde kid from Fulci’s other great horror ‘The House by the Cemetery’, and he has an encounter with some scorpions which was hilarious to watch. There is a lot to like about these Italian horrors though. I love the dodgy dubbing over each actors original voice, and the hammy acting on display always makes things fun to watch. The effects are fun too, like the dodgy stuffed birds dangling on wires. 


Manhattan Baby is certainly worth a watch for fans of Lucio Fulci’s work, but it’s sure to divide those that love his other movies. Manhattan Baby is available now on DVD from the fine folks over at Shameless Screen Entertainment:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Manhattan-Baby.html

3/5

JM

Hot Toys Kylo Ren 1/6 Scale Figure

  
  
“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?” In terms of quality Star Wars figures from Hot Toys, there really has been an awakening. Straight out of the box you can see how impressive this figure is. Hot Toys have really shown their skill with this Kylo Ren figure. The quality of the clothing is so good, and everything just feels good in the hand. 

   
  
 Included in the box are three pairs of interchangeable hands, two spare pins for the wrists should the others be broken, the stand to sit this beauty on, a spare lightsaber hilt which is attached to one of the hands. The reason the hand is attached to the lightsaber is because the lightsaber lights up, and comes with the three small batteries required to power it up. You will need a small screw driver to remove a cover to insert the batteries, which can be a bit tricky. 

   
   

When changing the arm with the LED lightsaber, you need to unzip the sleeve, pull the arm out of the socket and then insert the other arm. You can remove the red lightsaber parts from the hilt of the loose lightsaber and attach them to the hilt of the one attached to the arm. The LED lightsaber arm doesn’t offer as much movement as the standard arm, as the wrist joint isn’t as flexible, so you may need to alternate between the arms when posing the figure. 

   
   

The loose lightsaber hilt can be hooked onto the belt and sits on it quite nicely. The hood can be pulled down should you decide you want to have it that way. The movemen and articulation is second to none. It really is an amazingly designed figure. The belt can’t be removed, nor can the hood, so don’t try as you may damage what is a stunning figure. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the wonderful Jennifer at Sideshow Collectibles for providing this for review, without her help none of these reviews would be possible. You can order your figure now directly via the following link: 

Kylo Ren

  
This really is worth getting for all you collectors out there. Stellar work!
5/5

JM

  

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

  
Young soldier Lt. Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) stands accused of first degree murder, after he shot the man who raped his wife Laura Manion (Lee Remick). Seeking the help of attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart), Lt. Manion looks to prove that a moment of insanity made him commit the murder. Will he win his case?

  
Well you’ll have to watch and find out. I’m a sucker for a good courtroom drama, and for the most part Otto Perminger’s ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ delivers. It’s got a great cast too, with supporting acts like George C. Scott, who was nominated for an Oscar. The story is gripping to begin with, and you kind of get an idea of what happened, but since Otto Perminger disliked the use of flashbacks, there are no images to go along with Mrs. Manion’s or the Lieutenant’s account of what happened the night of the rape and murder. As Biegler goes around questioning witnesses of the night Laura Manion was raped, you get the idea that he’s fleshing out his case for the defence of Lt. Manion, but you get no real sense of urgency. A better way of telling the story would be if Lt. Manion had already been convicted and was due to be executed. That way you could build the suspense and really create an interesting drama. 

  
It’s not that ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ is a bad movie, far from it. The problem is at a running time of 2hrs 40mins you feel that a lot of what happens is filler. Often this movie is cited as a masterpiece, but I would be inclined to disagree. I’ve seen other courtroom movies that are a lot more engaging and suspenseful than this. James Stewart is always worth a watch, and he brings that sort of naive, everyman charm to the role of Paul Biegler that he does in most movies I’ve watched him in. Lee Remick is stunning as Laura Manion, and it was interesting to see a young Ben Gazzara as I only really remember him from The Big Lebowski and also as the big bad in Roadhouse.

  

If you’re into courtroom movies then there is a lot to like here. However I felt that the 3rd act was lacking and undid some of the good groundwork laid earlier. Interestingly enough James Stewart’s father was so offended by this movie that he took out an advert in a local newspaper telling people not to go and see it. Reason for his offence was that this was one of the first movies to have words like panties, slut, rape and sperm used in a script. The film was also banned in Chicago upon its release. Worth a watch, but there are better legal themed movies out there. 

3/5

JM