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

Gomorrah – Season 3 (2018)

After the brutal, gut wrenching denouement to season two, I was on tenterhooks to see how the third season would unfold.

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Still reeling over the shocking murder of his daughter, Ciro (Marco D’Amore) has left Naples and relocated to Sofia, though his means of earning a living continue to be morally sketchy. Genny (Salvatore Esposito) has taken over his father’s affairs, after the latter’s death by Ciro’s hands, and continues to do things the way he sees fit rather than caving to pressure from others, with devastating consequences.

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Scianel is released from prison and sets about clawing some lost power back, whilst Ciro battles his demons and returns to Naples, making new alliances and new enemies. He meets up with a new acquaintance called Enzo, nicknamed Blue Blood, a young hot-headed man with a gang of equally hot-headed friends. Enzo wants to reclaim the city he believes should be his by right, as his family has some history with the ruling power. Ciro sees something in Enzo that he likes, and decides to help him in his quest. However in doing so it causes problems with old friends, and creates some new enemies.

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Gomorrah has been a powerhouse on television in its native Italy, and it is just as popular in the UK. The acting from everyone involved is top quality and each person’s arc progresses naturally, leaving you eager for more. Season three continues the trend of wrong footing the viewer, and is equally as brutally devastating as before.

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One of the finest crime sagas in history, and one I hope has many more seasons to come. Fantastic.

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Season 3 of Gomorrah is released on 12th March, and is available to pre order now:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0794MCD33/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519649540&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=gomorrah+season+3&dpPl=1&dpID=514xn45gpvL&ref=plSrch

5/5

JM

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Modus (TV Series) (2015)

The Scandinavians do it again. Seriously. Very rarely have I watched  a programme from Sweden or Denmark where I have been bored or found the story uninteresting. Detective Ingvar Nyman is sent to Uppsala to investigate the grisly murder or a bishop. Teaming up with a psychologist, they seek to uncover just why people are turning up dead in some very strange circumstances. 

There are gruesome scenes which may not be for the squeamish, but this series is never gratuitous. It’s superbly acted and the story is gripping. It’s mostly subtitled, but there is quite a bit of English speaking in it too for those that have an allergic reaction to reading subtitles. Seriously folks, you’re missing out on some gems if you refuse to watch movies or programmes with subtitles. 

The cast do a very good job in keeping you engaged, and play their parts to perfection. I really hope that there is more of this to come. MODUS  is released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 19th December by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

Modus is definitely a series that you need to give your time to. Very impressed. 

5/5

JM

Beck: Vol. 2 (2016) (TV Series) 

The Scandinavians really do know how to make thrilling drama. With the likes of Trapped, The Killing, Borgen and many others, they have thrilled UK audiences. Beck is another jewel in that crown. 

Peter Haber plays the brilliant Martin Beck, a Swedish detective who hunts down all sorts of criminals. He is called back into action when a journalist is found beaten to death in his home. Various fingerprints are found which may allude to the killer’s identity, but the further Beck and his team dig, the more they realise that things may not be as straightforward as they seem. 

However that is only the first case in this series. This wonderful procedural weaves through different grisly cases, whilst simultaneously delving into each of the characters lives. It does a great job in really investing in the characters and making you care for them. The acting really is first class.

The stories are thoroughly gripping too. The writing is intelligent and there are various twists and turns keeping you on the edge of your seat. The supporting cast are fabulous, and you never get the feeling like any one character feels redundant in their role. 

If the Scandinavians can continue to produce awesome television such as this, then I think we will always have something decent to watch. Even more than once. BECK – THE SERIES VOLUME TWO is released on DVD on Monday 10th October by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

5/5

JM

OThe Out-Laws (2016) (TV Series) 

The Goethals have always been a tight bunch. 5 sisters who have always relied and trusted each other. After the premature death of the their parents, their bond only grows stronger.

However their lives are thrown into disarray when one of the sisters marries a devious and manipulative man by the name of Jean Claude, the other 4 sisters realise they need to take drastic measures to restore order. 

The sisters begin a plot to murder Jean Claude, but things go awry from the get go and only proceed to get worse from there. Everyone is on top form, and the blend of comedy and thrills is really well handled. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing, but it couldn’t be helped. The Out-Laws has been doing very well in its home country of Belgium, and I am certain that success will carry on in the UK. 

The Nordic Noir label has been distributing some absolute belters, and ‘The Out-Laws’ aka ‘Clan’ is no different. It took an episode or so to get going, but by the end you will want more. The wonderfully named Dirk Roofthooft shines as the scheming Jean Claude, and I hope to see him in more things in the future. 

THE OUT-LAWS is released on DVD on Monday 19th September by Nordic Noir & Beyond
 5/5

JM

Gomorrah: Season 2 (2016)

Don’t read if you haven’t seen the first season. 

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

With Don Pietro sprung from his prison convoy and Gennaro clinging to life after being shot and left for dead by Ciro, a power vacuum has been created and Don Salvatore is manoeuvring to take complete control of the city. Continuing on from the blisteringly good first season, Gomorrah aims to capitalise on its gripping story on the fall and possible rise of the Savastano clan. 

Ciro has decided to make a power grab himself, though not for complete control, rather just to stay alive. Gennaro looks to reconnect with his father but it doesn’t go as he would’ve hoped. What Gomorrah does well is fully flesh out every character, even those that are sometimes relegated to the background. The first season did it too. There were episodes that contained just a handful of characters, and didn’t need to constantly remind you that others existed. Same for season 2. One episode is dedicated almost completely to Gennaro and Don Pietro. It’s a thrillingly told episode, that shows you how deep bonds are between father and son, and how damaging a mistake can be. 

The acting is second to none. Seriously. Everyone owns their respective roles and nobody feels like they’re not pulling their weight. Same goes for the script. The story never feels like it flags, and is constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat. I seriously cannot wait for season 3.

Gomorrah season 2 is available to order now on Blu Ray and DVD from all good stockists. 

5/5

JM

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

Follow The Money (TV Series) (2016)

  
Alexander Sødergren (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a ruthless business man who works for a Danish company called Energreen. He has plans to corner the energy market, and believes wind farms are the future. When a dead body is pulled from the sea in which a wind farm is situated, a detective called Mads Justesen (Thomas Bo Larsen) believes that the shady Energreen had something to do with it. 

  
One thing I’ve noticed about these Scandinavian crime dramas is that it nearly always starts with dead body being pulled from the water. Maybe they should take up swimming perhaps? 

Also playing into proceedings is a young mechanic and ex convict called Nicky (Esben Smed Jensen), who finds himself tangled up with Energreen when he tries to resort to blackmail. There’s also a young lawyer called Claudia (Natalie Madueño) who receives a promotion which helps her in her investigation into the dodgy goings on inside Energreen. 

  
The plot moves along very slowly, and is nowhere near as gripping as previous Scandinavian dramas like The Killing or Trapped. This is more the political side of things like Borgen, which is no surprise really as it was created by the same guy. The dialogue is very wooden in places, though one would guess that maybe something has been lost in translation. Nikolaj Lie Kaas is very good as the ruthless Alexander or ‘Sander’ as he’s also called. He is very convincing in his role and thankfully the poor script doesn’t seem to hamper his acting quality whatsoever. 

Thomas Bo Larsen is also good as the dogged detective Mads Justesen, who’s home life also weighs him down as his wife suffers with multiple sclerosis. I felt that the aspect of his wife suffering with such a debilitating disease was kind of shoehorned in, just to make us feel more sympathetic towards him. I felt it was unnecessary as his character was already adequately defined for us to relate to as an audience. 

  
The camerawork is great in my opinion however, as it moves around the office like a shark, perfectly capturing the claustrophobic atmosphere of an office where so much is going on. 

Scandinavian dramas have always been worth watching, and ‘Follow the Money’ is no different. However I would love to see a series which delves even more into the dark hearts of man, maybe something involving the occult. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY is released on DVD & Blu-Ray Monday 25th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond and is available for pre order now. 

3/5

JM

  

Rat Man (1988)

  
When a pretty model is found dead on an island, her body mutilated, an investigation begins in to just what happened. The deceased model’s sister arrives with a mystery novel writer (David Warbeck), to try and figure out what was the cause of her sisters murder. The duo discover that the explanation is far more bizarre than they ever could have realised. 

A scientist has created a rat/monkey hybrid, for reasons unknown, though he does mention a Nobel peace prize at one point. The hybrid played by Nelson de la Rosa (The Island of Dr. Moreau), has developed murderous tendencies and decides he doesn’t like being caged up anymore. 

  
This movie is straight up trash and I loved it. I’ve always had a soft spot for David Warbeck as he’s always given 100% no matter what the role or how strange the movie is. He kind of downplays it a tad here, but he’s still the sort of hero he played in The Beyond. The plot dithers about and feels patchy and incoherent in places, but I feel it adds to the charm. I mean when the tag line reads ‘He’s the critter from the shitter’ I think it’s safe to say you know what sort of movie you’re getting. 

  
Nelson de la Rosa seems to enjoy his role as the carnivorous Rat Man, particularly as he gets close to some scantily clad women, and if you’ve seen the documentary about the making of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ then you know he’s quite fond of the ladies. 

    

The acting is atrocious in places, but if you’re a fan of trashy movies then that really won’t be an issue to you. These sort of horror movies have never really attempted to wow you with their acting, preferring to throw blood and naked women in your direction instead and hope that it keeps your attention. Fans of cheap Italian horror will find a lot to like here, and David Warbeck is always good value. The supporting cast are not the best, but they make do. 

  
Shameless Screen Entertainment have released the movie uncut for the first time ever in the U.K, and the film is presented in 16.9 anamorphic widescreen. The film is available to purchase now directly from the Shameless website via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Ratman.html

I’d like to thank Shameless for providing me with the movie for review. 

3/5

JM