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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Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

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In terms of ‘cult movies’, you don’t get more cult than Don Coscarelli’s  horror comedy ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’. Based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, this movie plays with the ‘what if’ scenario of Elvis and if he is still alive. Here we have an aging Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell, who is now living in a retirement home under the name Sebastian Haff. Sebastian claims that he is in fact the real Elvis, and that many years ago he swapped places with an Elvis impersonator as he was growing weary of the celebrity lifestyle and wanted a break. However before he could swap back places with the impersonator, the impersonator died.

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Now Elvis is living out his days in a retirement home, worrying about a possibly cancerous growth he has on his “pecker”. He spends his days perving at the nurses and visitors, all while dreaming of his old life and what could have been had he not switched places. Elvis also spends most of his spare time with an ageing black gentleman called Jack (Ossie Davis) who believes he is in fact the real JFK who was dyed black and had his brain replaced with a bag of sand. All very odd, but enjoyably so.

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Their ‘tranquillity’ is interrupted with the appearance of an ancient Egyptian mummy, who is stalking the halls sucking the souls of those who are close to death. At first Elvis doesn’t believe it, but when he sees the mummy for himself, he knows that he and Jack need to spring to action. Leading to a final battle between good and evil. The story is brilliantly told. It’s full of great comic timing, chills and a poignancy that I found quite un-expecting. It deals with longing and folks looking for a chance at redemption. Even if all of those around them have forgotten, they want to prove to themselves they still have something to offer.

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Bruce Campbell is awesome in the role of Elvis/Sebastian. He really does show that he has some decent acting chops. Ossie Davis as Jack/JFK has some brilliant lines to deliver, which he does so with relish. The effects are a bit cheesy, but on a moderate budget they are good enough. Don Coscarelli has always, for me anyway, been a great director. He manages to expertly balance his ambition with whatever budget he has, resulting in some very entertaining fare. I did hear a rumour of a sequel, but apparently there were problems between Bruce Campbell and Don Coscarelli which is sad. I for one would love to see Bubba Nosferatu. Apparently Ron Perlman was being lined up to take the Elvis role, but how true that is I don’t know. Also if anyone is wondering why there are no actual Elvis songs in the movie, it’s because the cost of using even one song would have sucked the budget dry. This is well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Very entertaining stuff.

4/5

JM

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The Devil’s Bargain

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Available to view via http://www.distrify.com and https://www.facebook.com/TheDevilsBargain on January 17th 2014. For just £3.99 you will get the chance to see this raw and visceral apocalypse set movie written and directed by Drew Cullingham. The film is set in 1974 when Earth is in its final days as an asteroid is set to hit the planet. Adi (Jonnie Hurn) and Ange (Chloe Farnworth) prepare for the end of the world but the arrival of a mysterious stranger throws everything into chaos. Shot over four days on a minuscule budget and using an experimental ‘pinhole’ technique, this film is pushing the boundaries of film making.  A word of warning however, I have been told that this film contains copious amounts of full frontal nudity, so if that’s not your thing then perhaps give it a miss. That being said, it’s always good to challenge yourself and seek out films you normally wouldn’t watch. Check out the trailer below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvpmEq6QZiY

JM

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