Stung (2015)

  
Julie (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O’Leary) are on their way out to the American countryside to cater a fancy party. However things take a turn for the sinister when a wasp nest is disturbed and the partygoers are set upon by giant mutated wasps. 

  
The wasps tear through the party, forcing some to retreat to the house in a desperate fight for their lives. Lance Henriksen plays the Mayor, Carruthers and the home owner is played by Clifton Collins Jr. The practical effects and gore are done very well. There is mild CGI, but this is a film that understands its core audience and also pays homage to the horror films of the 80’s, so the CGI is used sparingly and mainly just to show the wasps flying. 

  
More of a horror comedy, than a straight horror, there are some laugh out loud moments, particularly from Henriksen who seems to be enjoying himself. Some may recognise Matt O’Leary from another one of my favourite horrors ‘Frailty’. He plays the part of the reluctant hero quite well, and throws himself into the role. Jessica Cook is okay, but just feels like the generic damsel in distress, despite the films best efforts to make her appear otherwise. Clifton Collins Jr. is great as the hunchbacked Sydney, the homeowner with a dark secret. He seems to be able to slip into any role with ease and I’m always pleased to see him on screen. 

  
Lovers of old school horror comedy will find plenty to like here, however it’s not hard to see why this has gone straight to DVD here in the UK, as it lacks in places. That said I still recommend you give it a watch as it’s perfect beer and pizza entertainment. This copy of Stung was generously provided by the folks over at http://www.fetch.fm, and is available to pre order now with a release of October 26th….just in time for Halloween. 

  

3/5

JM

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Near Dark (1987)

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Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a young man living in a small farm town meets and falls for a young woman named Mae (Jenny Wright). While they are kissing Mae bites Caleb but can’t bring herself to feed from him. She decides to make Caleb like her, telling him that if he wants to survive then he needs to kill. She brings Caleb back to her group led by Jesse (Lance Henriksen). Jesse tells Mae that if she wants Caleb to stay and become like one of them then he needs to kill someone and feed.

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No matter how much Caleb hungers for blood he can’t bring himself to kill, even as he begins to grow weaker and weaker. Mae tells him that if he doesn’t feed he’ll die from hunger, or Jesse and the rest of the gang will kill him. One of the other members called Severen (Bill Paxton) constantly teases and messes with Caleb, fighting the urge to kill him as he doesn’t believe Caleb can be like them.

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Caleb is told by Jesse that there will be no more delays, he makes a kill and proves himself or dies. Caleb still can’t do it. However things get worse when Jesse and Co. turn on Caleb’s family, leaving Mae as the only one who can help Caleb. All working it’s way towards a bloody and fiery end. A lot of folk say this doesn’t really count as a ‘vampire’ film. I kind of get that as a lot of it is left vague. You never see if they cast reflections or not, or if garlic or crosses affect them. You do however see that they survive on blood and can be killed by sunlight.

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Directed by Kathryn Bigelow this is one of the best vampire films out there. It plays out more like a western, with flashes of violence lighting up the screen. It’s a raw and unflinching action horror with a fantastic cast. It has a lot of faces in the supporting cast that many will recognise. I really enjoy it and I’m sure many others will too.

4/5

JM

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Stone Cold (1991)

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Joe Huff (Brian Bosworth) is strong-armed by the FBI to infiltrate a dangerous gang of white supremacist bikers who have been drug running. Huff doesn’t want to do it, but he’s on suspension and the FBI leave him no choice. He travels down to Mississippi using the name John Stone. There he comes face to face with the gang leader called Chains Cooper (Lance Henriksen) and his second in command Ice (William Forsythe).

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Stone has to convince Chains that he’s for real before they let him join the gang. He’s told to kill a man as part of his initiation to prove his worth. He uses his agency contact to help him fake the persons death and his accepted. However Ice has his doubts about Stone and begins to spy on him. The whole thing culminates in blood and bullets.

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I must say I found this to be good fun. It’s a typical weekend evening movie, sitting back with a nice takeaway and relaxing. There is lots to love here. The script is cheesy as hell and the acting is questionable in places. However William Forsythe and Lance Henriksen are on scene stealing form as usual. I find that they are always good value for money. Sam McMurray is also great as Joe Huff/John Stone’s FBI contact Lance. Always looking out of place wherever they meet.

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I’ll hold my hands up now and also say I dug Brian Bosworth’s performance here. Honestly. He gives it a good go and he makes for a convincing action hero. He’s built like a brick shithouse and delivers a solid action performance. There are some great shoot-outs and awesome fights. The final third is brilliant. I’ve seen this a few times now. Brian Bosworth never really made good on this early promise, instead was left languishing in DTV hell. Give it a go though, it entertains, and that’s all that matters isn’t it? The poster below is the best poster I’ve seen for this movie, however I could only find the German version. Why they made it look like a Terminator poster is beyond me.

3/5

JM

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Powder (1995)

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Jeremy ‘Powder’ Reed (Sean Patrick Flanery) is a very unique man. He was born an albino which has made him very sensitive to light. He lives in his grandfather’s basement and doesn’t venture out as he’s subject to ridicule because he looks different. When his grandfather passes away he is found living in the basement by Sheriff Barnum (Lance Henriksen) and a woman named Jessie Caldwell (Mary Steenburgen) who take him to a home for boys.

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Jessie arranges for Powder to take tests to see how intelligent he is and he wows a teacher named Donald Ripley (Jeff Goldblum), who wants to help Powder. The townsfolk treat Powder like a freak however. The other boys in the boys home bully and tease Powder. We fear what we don’t understand, and that has never been more true in this film. Powder does meet a girl who treats him just like he should be, but it’s not long before the other people in town find out and put a stop to it.

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Powder is also asked by Sheriff Barnum if he can visit the Sheriff’s wife who is dying of cancer. His wife can’t speak but is still holding on and the Sheriff wants to know why, as she’s in pain. Powder takes her hand and tells the Sheriff that his wife won’t pas on until the Sheriff makes up with his estranged son. I am not one to readily admit when a film makes me cry. Now it’s not that I’m some double hard bastard that doesn’t ever shed a tear, I just don’t like showing my emotions like that. However, that being said, this film hits me hard. It is very touching, the scene I described above is wear I completely lose my shit and just bawl like a baby. It really is heartbreaking.

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This film is great though. It’s done by Victor Salva who did the Jeepers Creepers movies. Now I like his movies, it’s just a shame that he’s a wrong ‘un. I won’t go into why that is, as it’s not really the place. However should you be curious, I’m sure Wikipedia can tell you everything you need to know.

4/5

JM

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Hard Target (1993)

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Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) arrives in New Orleans looking for her father who she hasn’t spoken to in some time. She meets Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who rescues her from some street thugs. She asks for his help in finding her father.

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Natasha and Chance find her father who has been murdered. He was a homeless veteran who was hunted down by a rich group of businessmen who hunt human prey for sport, headed up by the ruthless Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen) and his equally dangerous second in command Pik van Cleef (Arnold Vosloo).

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Chance and Natasha go to the police to tell them that something is wrong and that people are going missing. They find an ally in a Det. Marie Mitchell (Kasi Lemmons), who tells them she will investigate it. When Chance and Natasha begin to uncover what is happening to all of the homeless people in New Orleans Emil and Pik decide to up sticks and move on, but not before one final hunt with Chance as the ultimate prey.

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Directed by John Woo, this film was his calling card to the U.S, letting them know what he was all about. He brings the same amount of razzle dazzle to proceedings that he did in his bombastic Hong Kong movies. Some of the stunts are just amazing, and for me this is still Van Damme’s best movie to date. I have seen it numerous times and still love it.

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The supporting cast is excellent too. Yancy Butler is great as Natasha, bringing the right amount of vulnerability to the role. Wilford Brimley is great as the wily old Uncle Douvee, though his cajun accent leaves a lot to be desired. Arnold Vosloo brings menace as Pik. He casts a striking presence in the movie and also has some great lines. Lance Henriksen has always been a cult favourite and his role as the menacing Emil Fouchon is great, and you can tell he is having fun chewing up the scenery. The score by Graeme Revell is brilliant. The awesome bluesy guitars are in full swing and it fits brilliantly with the movie.

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Seriously if you’ve never seen this and you’re looking for a film for a friday night that will be the perfect accompaniment to beer and pizza then look no further. As I have always said to my buddies “It’s all about Hard Target”. Great movie!

4/5

JM

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