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

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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

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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We can thank writer Seth Grahame-Smith for mashing up Jane Austen’s classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with the undead. It’s something that shouldn’t really work, as it’s two wildly different ideas being melded together. That said, it does work, and work quite well.

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The story really is just the standard tale of love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, with hordes of the shuffling undead thrown in. Lily James is fantastic as Elizabeth, really getting into the fights, with the dashing Sam Riley playing Mr. Darcy, fighting by her side. Director Burr Steers said that most people couldn’t really figure out how to film the movie as they weren’t sure what direction to take it in. Burr Steers said he took the job because he was just going to film it like he would if it didn’t have zombies in it. Everyone plays it so straight and it makes it a very funny movie because of it.

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The gore is not bad, not as gory as I was expecting, considering we have flesh eating zombies on the prowl. The fight choreography is very well put together, and everybody seems to be throwing themselves into their roles. The supporting cast of Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Jack Huston and even Doctor Who actor Matt Smith are all cast brilliantly in their respective roles.

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The film does lag in the third act, which I was a little disappointed about, as that is exactly when it should be firing on all cylinders. The movie is released on Blu Ray and DVD on 27th June.

3/5

JM

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Angel (1982)


Danny is a saxophonist with a jobbing band that play in various cheap locations. One late night after a gig he goes outside the venue to get some air and speak to a girl that has taken a shine to him. Shortly after he witnesses the murder of his band manager and an innocent girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. The violence he witnesses sends Danny on a quest for revenge, which will change his life forever. 


Swapping a saxophone for a machine gun, Danny works his way through terrorists that had a hand in the murder of his manager and the destruction that followed. At the same time he tries to keep some semblance of normality in his life, and continues playing with the band and trying to form a meaningful relationship with the lead singer, Dee. However Danny’s journey is fraught with peril and threatens to ruin the relationship he has with his band, plus fail to give him the closure he so desperately seeks. 


Moody and dripping with atmoshphere, this was Neil Jordan’s first directing gig and contains themes (troubles in Northern Ireland) that would echo through his following movies. Stephen Rea is brilliant as Danny, fumbling his way through his quest in seeking retribution for the deaths he has witnessed. The police follow and question Danny, but their motives are vague to say the least. You’re never quite sure just what they are trying to achieve and Danny usually finds himself arousing no suspicion whatsoever. The film leaves you with the feeling that revenge is a fruitless endeavour no matter how you go about it. Some things just have a way of going their own way, no matter your efforts to change the outcome.


The acting is great from everyone involved, and the movie displays a dreamlike quality at times, with the music from Danny’s saxophone playing in the background. It’s one I recommend, though it isn’t the bloody revenge type thriller you may be expecting. 

4/5

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

  

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

  

Albert Pyun – Moviemaker 

 Those of you out there that love trashy movies, movies with cyborgs or movies set in post apocalyptic wastelands, then chances are you’ve seen Albert Pyun’s work at least once. My first foray into the work of Albert Pyun was the Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie ‘Cyborg’ back in 1992. I had already been a Van Damme fan at this point, but I loved the whole post apocalyptic setting and after watching it, I set out to find more of Pyun’s work.
  
My next stop was Dollman starring Tim Thomerson, and also an early role for Jackie Earle Haley. This was a crazy movie, with Thomerson as an intergalactic space cop who crash lands on earth. However whereas he is normal size on his home planet, he is only doll size on Earth. After befriending a woman and her son, Dollman must protect them from an angry gang and other enemies that seek to cause them harm. It was great fun with some good effects. Although I must say the effects have aged badly now that we are in the realms of high end CGI. 
  
After Dollman I found out that Pyun had directed a Captain America movie, which I was very eager to see. At the time I remember really enjoying it, but again now that we have CGI and Chris Evans as Cap, it just doesn’t hold up well to repeated viewings. Albert Pyun does well with limited funds, and this is something that is true with all of his movies. He’s a man who’s creativity seeps forth from every frame, and who’s passion for movies is so infectious, that you can’t help but admire the man. He is inspiring because he adapts to whatever restrictions may be placed on him, which is usually in the form of limited budgets. 
  
Brain Smasher: A Love Story was the next film I stumbled across. Andrew Dice Clay stars as a bouncer who has to protect Teri Hatcher from Shaolin Monks. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic gist of the story. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, and to be fair probably not something I would watch again anytime soon. That said it was cheap to buy so I can’t complain too much. Only recently have I stumbled across the Nemesis series. So far I’ve only watched the first one, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver Gruner stars as a cyborg cop who is tasked by his boss to find and subdue some cyborg terrorists. It’s pretty basic stuff story wise, but the action and stunts are top shelf and I must say that this is my second favourite Pyun movie, just behind Cyborg with Van Damme. 
  
Another Albert Pyun movie I have recently watched is Mean Guns starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert. It’s about a group of villains gathered together in a prison, forced to fight to the death for $10million dollars. It’s got good action, but the dialogue feels very forced, and Ice T isn’t the best actor in the world. He pretty much seems to play the same character in every movie I’ve seen him in. 
  
I’m happy to say that Albert Pyun is still making movies, but health issues have required him to slow his output down just a tad. I do hope we get to see many more of his movies for a long while yet. He really does dig deep and deliver his best effort, even if the end result isn’t always something you’d watch again in a hurry. It’s that kind of willingness to entertain that I find very admirable, and is why he is a director I have a lot of time for. There are still plenty more of Albert Pyun’s movies out there for me to discover, for that I am both thankful and excited. 
  
I’d like to thank 101 Films for the Nemesis boxset and Mean Guns. They are both available to purchase now via https://101-films-store.myshopify.com/

 
JM

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