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

  

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The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

  
A woman is brutally raped and killed by psychotic Alex (David Hess) late one night. Afterwards he returns to work at a garage where his simple friend Ricky (Giovanni Radice) also works. When a young well to do couple come into the garage asking for help fixing their car and say that they’re going to a friends party, it kick starts a chain of events resulting in brutal murder and unparalleled mayhem. 

  
Ruggero Deodato was really at the height of his fame when he made this brilliantly sleazy movie. Ricky is easily led by the brutal Alex, as he just isn’t that bright, but still has (very) small elements of good in him. Alex however is just pure evil, resorting to satisfying his wildest urges, no matter how depraved. The group having the party are really put through the ringer, and you wonder just what will happen next. 

  
David Hess just really recycles his role from ‘Last House on the Left’, and it’s not really a far cry from many of the roles he played during his career. The makers of this movie were so desperate to have him on board that they actually gave him half the rights to the film. Giovanni Radice plays the part of the simple Ricky very well. With limited intelligence you can see he doesn’t really understand at first the magnitude of his actions, and you feel that he’s mostly doing it to impress Alex. There is a lot of nudity, some full frontal, and the violence is quite brutal. If that’s not your thing then it’s best to avoid this movie. Then again if you’re reading reviews about this movie, it’s probably safe to say that it intrigues you somewhat, and if so then I would say you should give it a go. 

  
The film is over 35 years old, so it is very dated in parts, particularly the fashion, but the content on show still manages to pack a punch. The violence, a lot of it of a sexual nature, is very near the knuckle. The acting on show really is top quality, and really helps in keeping you gripped to the end. 

Thank you to Shameless Screen Entertainment for letting me review this movie. It’s available now from their site via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/House-On-The-Edge-Of-The-Park.html

4/5

JM

  

I, The Jury (1982)

  
After his old war buddy is gunned down, private detective Mike Hammer (Armand Assante) seeks vengeance. However as Hammer investigates, he finds that this is more than a case of simple murder. 

  
As the investigation deepens, Mike and his gorgeous secretary Velda (the stunning Laurene Landon), find out that the government are involved and are using mind control to create assassins with the help of a sexual therapy clinic. It’s a bit crazy, but a lot of fun. 

  

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Dream Home (2010)

  
Cheng Lai-Sheung (Josie Ho) has long dreamed of an apartment with a harbour view. All her life she has saved her money to afford the apartment. However just as her dream home is within her grasp, the owners pull out of the deal and the sale falls through. Now, desperate to own the apartment at any cost, Cheng will do whatever it takes to see her dream become a reality…..even kill for it. 

  

The story that is laid out paints a brutal picture of what life is like when trying to get on the property ladder in Hong Kong. Rent is astronomical and it can be hard to make ends meet. As Cheng Lai is going about her life, working two part time jobs and sleeping with a married man, we are shown flashbacks to when she was younger. The flashbacks work well as they help the viewer understand just how deep Cheng Lai’s desire for a new home goes, and the reasons why she craves it so. You can almost sympathise with Cheng Lai…almost. 

  
Once the blood flows, it doesn’t stop. The kills are gruesome and disturbing. There is some dark humour thrown in too, which tries to lighten the mood, but kind of nullifies the impact of the killings, and doesn’t really belong in the film. Josie Ho is fantastic as Cheng Lai, really getting into her character. The supporting cast are okay, but never linger long enough to really make an impact. This movie really is Josie Ho’s. 

  
The beginning of the movie tells us that it’s based on a true story, but I couldn’t find anything that gave that claim any weight. If it is based on a true story then it robs the movie of any real ending or sense of closure. Impressive gore and fantastic acting from Josie Ho definitely means you should check this out. 

4/5

JM

  

Voices of the Damned (2015)

  
When I read ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde, I was enthralled. It was magnificent in every way, and I knew then that the literary and horror fiction world in general, truly had someone special on their hands. So you can probably imagine my glee when I was offered the chance to review Barbie Wilde’s new work, the brilliant short story collection ‘Voices of the Damned’. The opening story is erotically charged and bristling with descriptions of violence, that those who’ve read Barbie’s previous work will have come to expect. 

   

Hellraiser fans will be happy to discover that the ‘Female Cenobite’ actually has a name and a past which is given great detail in this book. It really is an experience worth having, and those of you with a love of horror, violence and the odd dash of erotica will find much to like here.

 

Dotted between each story are pieces of exquisite artwork from folks such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Eric Gross and Steve McGinnis, plus a few others. I found myself studying each piece before pressing on with the story and they really do capture the essence of the horrors Barbie Wilde manages to put down on paper.  ‘Voices of the Damned’ is released on October 31st 2015 and is available for preorder now via this link: 

https://www.sstpublications.co.uk/Voices-of-the-Damned.php

*Update* Barbie Wilde has informed me that there’ll be two editions available of Voices of the Damned. A standard hardback release and a deluxe edition. Both will be available via Amazon on 31st October. However, if you order directly from the link above, you will get a free book will all of the artwork inside. Now that’s great news. 
  
5/5

JM

Crimes of Passion (2014)

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Scandinavian drama is doing very, very well in the UK. Now adding to the long list is Crimes of Passion, based on the best selling novels by Swedish author Maria Lang. Starring Ola Rapace as Christer and Tuva Novotny as Puck, it’s a lavishly designed period drama/murder mystery.

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The set which has been kindly provided by the folks at Arrow Films, contains six feature length mysteries, packed to the gills with sex, intrigue and whodunit’s. Everyone is on top of their game, and the stories leave you really scratching your head until the final third. It’s currently being screened on BBC4 here in the UK, and has audiences responding really well. Tuva Novotny is great as Puck. She plays the part really well. Puck is attentive, yet strangely manages to always be in the right place at the right time. Her inquisitive nature is usually the key to cracking whatever mystery befalls her and her friends.

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It is a wonderful programme, very reminiscent of Midsomer Murders or even Inspector Morse, well to me anyway. The set is released on October 6th and is available to pre order from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk now.

4/5

JM

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Braquo (TV series) (2009-)

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Wow! What an absolute stunning piece of television this. I could literally use every superlative in the English language to lavish praise on this show, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Jean Hugues-Anglade plays Eddy Caplan, the leader of a group of Parisian police officers, who have no qualms about stepping over the line when it is required.

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They spring into action when their colleague Max commits suicide after being mercilessly persecuted by Internal Affairs, which is headed by the slimy and borderline socio-pathic  Roland Vogel (Geoffroy Thiebaut). The team seek to do whatever it takes in clearing Max’s name, even murder. They are a team held together by a strong bond, and clearly have morals of which they never waver. They all have flaws, some which threaten to bring them down on occasion, but it’s their togetherness which carries them through.

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The action is nothing short of breathtaking. It is visceral stuff, and doesn’t skimp on the gore or sex. The acting is top notch from everyone, there is not one character I would say that lets the side down. The story-lines are equally gripping, showing that sometimes the police and criminals are more alike than either would care to admit.

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The creator of the show, Olivier Marchal, is a former police officer, so the attention to detail is second to none. It’s this meticulousness which really gets across the shows quality. I really cannot recommend this series enough. I did start watching it when it was showing on FOX. I am now on season 3 which was graciously provided by the wonderful folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. Season 1 and 2 are available to buy now and season 3 is available to pre-order now, due for release on July 21st. It is a show I highly recommend. If you are a fan of The Wire or The Shield, then you will absolutely love Braquo.

5/5

JM

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Edmond (2005)

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An encounter with a tarot card reader leaves Edmond (William H Macy) questioning his life, sending him spiralling out of control. After being told by the fortune teller “You are not where you belong”, Edmond goes home and tells his wife that their marriage is over. However this is only the first of many drastic events that Edmond finds himself in as he struggles to understand the meaning of his life.

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Edmond first seeks solace in a bar where he meets a gentleman who listens to his woes and offers him some advice. Then finding himself seeking the company of prostitutes to give him some sort of pleasure, but growing frustrated when it doesn’t offer him the release he seeks. As Edmond further explores the city he finds himself in more dangerous situations, eventually leading to murder.

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Based on stage play also written by screenwriter David Mamet, Edmond is a dark trip in to the mind of a man who has struggled to find meaning in a world he fears has none. Edmond seems to just want someone to listen and understand, but he looks for it in all the wrong places. The film is directed by Stuart Gordon who likes to deviate from the Lovecraft style horror from time to time, and he does well here. I must admit that the film did shock me when I first saw it, as the violence Edmond delivers to one woman was shockingly brutal.

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William H Macy is always worth watching and I find he is an incredibly diverse actor who can play roles you never thought him capable. I know many will not have heard of this movie, and for those that have I want to say don’t believe the bad write ups, and make your own minds up. The movie also features small supporting roles from Mena Suvari, Julia Stiles, Denise Richards and even a cameo from Jeffrey Combs. I highly recommend it.

4/5

JM

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White of the Eye (1987)

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A series of grisly murders rocks the area of Tucson, Arizona. Beautiful women have been found mutilated in their homes, some with parts missing. As Detective Mendoza (Art Evans) investigates the crime, his attention becomes quickly drawn to Paul White (David Keith), a local sound engineer that works in the area. As the finger of suspicion keeps getting pointed at Paul, he protests his innocence, but his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) begins to see through the façade and uncover some incriminating clues of her own.

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Director Donald Cammell (Performance) never directed many movies, before his suicide in1996 aged 62, but his films had a very trippy style all of their own. White of the Eye is full of strange symbolism, mainly focusing on American Indian rituals, and some intense imagery. However the film is not without it’s faults. To begin with, the editing is all over the place. One minute it’s present day, the next it’s showing a flashback scene. Yet the editing is so jarring that at first I was a little thrown as to what I was watching.

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The actual murders are not really shown on screen, leaving a lot to the imagination. Instead the director decides to focus on the eye of the killer watching his victims breathe their last breath. The camera also likes to focus on glass smashing, and the splash of wine and sauce take the place of the blood that is also being spilt. It’s not pretentious at all,  but instead gives the murders an almost artistic quality. We don’t see the act itself, instead we see what the victim sees, the white of the killers eye.

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David Keith plays the part of the opera loving, sound engineer Paul White very well. He brings a raw intensity to the role, really believing his characters place in the world. Cathy Moriarty is also very good as the inquisitive wife, who slowly comes to the realisation that she really doesn’t know the man she lives with quite as much as she thinks. I have to say this however. The actress that plays the child Danielle White (Danielle Smith) looks a tad strange. There’s no other way to put it. The two front teeth unsettled me, you have to see the movie to understand. I watched this movie on blu ray (available from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk), and the transfer is immaculate. The extras are great and include a feature length documentary directed by Kevin McDonald and also a short film which was directed by Cammell in 1972. All in all a great package for a good film. Also as I was in a retro mood after talking to my buddies at http://www.80spicturehouse.co.uk on twitter, I thought I’d include the old VHS poster below. Enjoy!

3/5

JM

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The Venus Complex (2012)

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Michael Friday is an art professor. His life is drastically altered whilst driving home with his wife, when he finds out that she has been sleeping with another man. Michael flies into a fit of rage, and floors the accelerator, driving the car straight into a tree. Michael survives, his wife does not. Michael is then hospitalised with his injuries. Upon leaving hospital Michael finds that everything in his life no longer has the same meaning it once did. Michael’s desire to work, and study art leaves him. A different side emerges to Michael. A darker side. Michael begins having perverse sexual dreams, involving necrophilia and murder, which he starts to enjoy. To fill the gap his job once took, Michael decides to find another project, one that sees him plunge head first into insanity.

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People will most likely remember the author Barbie Wilde as the female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II. For this first novel she has delivered a brilliant tale of lust and perversion. The story consists of Michael’s diary entries in which he speaks of his disgust and disdain for society and how it has become. He describes, in vivid detail I may add, his dreams and fantasies as they become increasingly violent in nature. Barbie Wilde has an imagination that is wonderfully vivid, creating a disturbing image of a man’s decent into madness. Yet we empathise  in places with Michael. He is not a thoroughly despicable person, despite his perversions. We understand his frustration for society and how materialistic we have all become. Credit for this goes to the author. Barbie Wilde gives heart and wit to a character that may have been overcome by his failings in the hands of other authors. If this is what she delivered for her first novel, then roll on the next one.

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This copy of The Venus Complex was graciously provided by Barbie Wilde. You can purchase your copy now from http://www.amazon.co.uk and all other major stockists.

5/5

JM