The Story of Ricky (1991)

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Ricky (Siu-Wong Fan) is sent to a maximum security prison after he kills the people who murdered his girlfriend. The prison he is sent to is run by a ruthless assistant warden who also has a gang of four ruthless assassins working for him. As the gang of four terrorise and kill the inmates, Ricky decides to stand up and fight.

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Ricky begins to challenge each of the gang and any other prisoners who stand in his way, cutting a bloody trail of carnage through the prison. Soon the prison warden comes to the prison to check what’s going on, determined to put an end to Ricky once and for all.

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Based on a Manga of the same name, The Story of Ricky is deliriously violent. It is chock full of guts being ripped out, brains being splattered and skin being flailed.┬áThere is so much about this movie that is laughably bad, yet I still love it. Firstly the acting is really bad, almost Troma bad. Yet some of the effects are quite well done for a movie that is 23yrs old. However, some of the effects, like the death of Ricky’s girlfriend, are hilariously bad. There are some decent fight scenes, but not something I’d call out and out martial arts.

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That being said, if you’re a fan of ultra violence, gore and splatter then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll like this film warts and all. Live action Manga rarely fares well, with the manic intensity of the animated version rarely matched in the live action version. I would say that it is well worth a watch. I think the fact that it plays it so straight doesn’t do it any favours. It would be much better if it was played a little more tongue in cheek. Like I said though, still worth a watch.

3/5

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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In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

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My second John Carpenter review brings us to this under-looked gem from 1994. The opening credits music is quite possibly one of the most bad ass fucking pieces of music ever. It’s music that seems like it belongs in a totally different movie. Check it out on YouTube and see why. Kicking things off we find John Trent (Sam Neill) being committed to a mental institution, despite protests from him that he’s not crazy. Soon after Dr. Wrenn (David Warner) stops by John’s padded cell to speak to him. Upon entering he finds the room, and John, covered in strange markings. John begins to tell Dr. Wrenn how he ended up in a mental institute all began when he was asked to look for a missing writer called Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow).

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Strange things have been happening in town and some people seem to think that it’s the writings of Sutter Cane that are responsible, only he’s nowhere to be found. People are being murdered and seem to be going crazy after reading the books by Cane. John Trent is asked by Cane’s publisher Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to track down Cane and bring him back. Trent is accompanied by Linda Styles (Julie Carmen) in tracking down Cane. The investigation into Cane’s whereabouts bring John and Linda to a town called Hobbes End, which just so happens to be straight out of Cane’s novels. Finding the town almost empty, John and Linda find out what has happened to Cane, and what will soon happen to the rest of the world.

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Cane has been chosen to usher forth the ‘Old Ones’, beings that lived long before humans ever walked the Earth. However bringing them back will not bode well for humankind. This is another one of my favourite John Carpenter films. To be fair to Carpenter, the only film of his I wasn’t keen on was ‘Ghosts of Mars’. Yes I am one of those people who liked ‘Escape From L.A.’ believe it or not. This has a lot going for it too. It has a great cast, great script and brilliant direction from Carpenter. The storyline borrows some bits from H.P. Lovecraft lore which only helps the film in my opinion.

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It’s another one that I recommend to people when I get the chance. I know many haven’t heard of it, and it is also one I will have to import from Germany if I want the blu ray. Sadly there is not even a UK release of this on DVD, so it will require importing, I’d recommend Amazon.de as your first port of call. If you haven’t seen it then track it down, I think you’ll like it.

4/5

JM

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Prince of Darkness (1987)

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For hundreds of years a dark secret has been kept in a church basement in Los Angeles. After the death of a priest who was guarding it, the key to the basement is entrusted to a priest (Donald Pleasence). He goes down to the basement and finds a large vat of green liquid. The priest hires a group of physics students let by their professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong).

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With the vat of liquid is also an ancient book which has been rewritten time and again, each passage warning of the return of the Devil. Through translating the book the students find that the green liquid is the very essence of the Devil himself. The area in and around the church has also attracted some strange people and other odd occurrences. A group of homeless people led by Alice Cooper no less, have congregated outside the church, resorting to murder to make sure that nobody leaves. One by one the students are snared by the evil essence leaving a small group fighting to survive.

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This is one of, if not my favourite John Carpenter films. The sense of unrelenting dread that runs throughout this movie is stifling. John Carpenter creates a mood where you know something is coming and there is noting you can do to escape it. There are a few familiar faces that tend to crop up in John Carpenter’s movies like Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Donald Pleasence and Peter Jason. It is such a brilliant movie. I had to import the blu ray from Germany as the U.S version is region locked and no company as of yet has released it on blu ray, though I’m hoping Arrow Films give it a release as their stuff is always top notch.

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There are some incredibly unsettling effects and heart pounding moments that make this such an awesome horror movie that I do find myself constantly revisiting. It’s one of the rare horror movies that is genuinely scary, which is not a moniker you can attach to some of the shit floating around now. If you haven’t seen it then definitely give it a go. If you do watch it then pop back and leave a comment, would love to hear your thoughts.

5/5

JM

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Deep Rising (1998)

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“Full scream ahead” says the tagline. Well what a scream this film is. This is one of those brilliant, schlocky, B-movie type deals. The cast is not A-list whatsoever, but everyone is on such top form that it scarcely matters. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy), Deep Rising is perfect friday night fodder for you and a few mates. It all begins with John Finnegan (Treat Williams) who is the captain of a small boat. He has been hired by a group of mercenaries led by Hanover (Wes Studi) to take them to a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean which Finnegan realises Hanover and his goons want to rob. On board the cruise ship is a thief by the name of Triilian St. James (Famke Janssen) who is trying to raid the vault and ends up trapped.

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It’s not long before Finnegan and Hanover realise that something has made it’s home on the ship already when they get aboard to find the place in ruins. The group find that some sort of creature is aboard the ship and is feasting on the passengers. Leaving Finnegan and his crew battling the creature and Hanover’s mercenaries.

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This film has lots going for it. For a film that is 15yrs old, the CGI is mightily impressive. Hell I’d even go so far to say it trumps some CGI in today’s movies. The supporting cast is great too. Kevin J. O’Connor is great as Joey, a member of Finnegan’s crew. You have great actors like Jason Flemyng and Djimon Hounsou playing mercenaries. You also have the wonderful Anthony Heald, so adept at playing slimy characters, as the cruise ships owner Simon Canton, who knows more than he’s letting on. Also the gore is pretty gnarly too. I shit you not. For a 15’s movie it’s pretty full on. The creature has some sort of stomach acid that helps it digest the passengers, so when one is spat up you see what the effect is.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this. I stumbled across it ages ago and it still holds a place in my DVD collection today. Such a great movie that’ll go nicely with a few beers and a nice pizza. If you haven’t seen it then seek it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below too. Enjoy.

4/5

JM

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Society (1989)

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Society was made at the very tail end of the 80’s. Words cannot describe the insanity of this film, and the picture accompanying this review should go some way to giving you an indication of what this film entails. It begins tame enough and follows this vein for a good hour.
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Bill Whitney (played by Billy Warlock of Baywatch fame) is a normal teenage boy. He is from a rich Beverly Hills family and life is seemingly okay. Yet Bill has never really felt apart of his family. He feels like he is not the same as them, and expresses these concerns to his psychiatrist who tells him it’s normal teenage angst. To say any more would spoil the utter insanity contained in the final 30mins of this movie. It takes a lot to shock me and let me stress this….this film REALLY shocked me.If you’re squeamish then steer well clear, however if you’re a fan of Cronenberg style body horror then jump right in. The film has a few things going against it though.
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For starters it feels very dated. The script is atrocious at times and the supporting cast are also not the best. Billy Warlock has never been leading man material, though does hold his own here. The SFX done by Screaming Mad George are nothing short of astonishing. They’re gloopy, slippery and very slimy.
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It’s well worth a watch, and is due for a blu ray release from Second Sight Films in 2014. But I repeat my earlier warning, if you’re squeamish then give this film a wide, wide berth.

3/5
JM
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Deranged (1974)

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I’ll be straight to the point on this one. I wasn’t sold on it at all. However Roberts Blossom who plays the main character Ezra (who some may remember as the street sweeper in Home Alone) is on top form here. He gives the part his all. The story is loosely based on Ed Gein, the killer and necrophile from the 1950’s. Ezra is very attached to his mother who soon dies from illness. His mental state slowly deteriorates over a year, to the point where he digs his mother up and takes her home.

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However Ezra’s mother’s body has decomposed to some extent. Ezra decides he needs flesh to repair his mother, so turns his hand to grave robbing, but it’s not long before he requires flesh from the living. The story is done almost like a reconstruction. From time to time a guy steps in to talk to the camera and gives details on Ezra. I found the whole process very jarring. There were some moments of dark comedy, but overall I just wasn’t taken with it.

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The extras are brilliant however. Callum Waddell has an interview with Scott Spiegel who recounts his memories of watching Deranged. Scott Spiegel fizzes with energy, that you just can’t help but be enthralled by his tales. There is also an interview with Laurence R Harvey (The Human Centipede 2) who talks about Ed Gein and the influence he had on cinema.

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There is also a gallery of stills from the movie, an introduction and commentary from SFX artist Tom Savini and making of featurette. The package is brilliant, but the movie itself wasn’t for me. This copy of Deranged was graciously provided by the kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can order your copy from www.arrowfilms.co.uk now.

3/5

JM

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