Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Big Mouth Season 2 - Richee Review

Following the incredibly enjoyable and offensive first season, Big Mouth continues the stories of main characters: Nick, who's worried he's still not going through puberty and is being left behind; Andy, who's actions bring around a new character in the spectacular Shame Wizard; and Jessi, who starts acting out in more and more extreme ways thanks to her hormone monster during the divorce of her parents. Jay and Missy also have their moments throughout the second season.

The main arc in this series is the introduction of the Shame Wizard, who gets in everyone's head to make them feel, well, shame for their urges and actions. Coach Steve also has a bigger role this season as he befriends Jay and loses his virginity. We also get to see where the hormone monster's work in the Department of Puberty along with all the other emotion personified characters they have to deal with.
The stand out moment for me this season was the two part episode which saw all the kids sleeping in the school gymnasium to watch the stars, but things blow up to the Shame Wizard's delight as he gets in all the kids heads and goes up against the seemingly shameless coach Steve. However, the show as a whole just felt a bit lackluster, as the humor seemed to take it down a notch from the first season.

The voice acting is great, though. Nick Kroll is awesome in every role and David Thewlis is great as the Shame Wizard, plus I loved seeing Nathan Fillion popping up as Andy's rival for Missy's affection in her day dreams. The animation is fine, but he show feels like it's lost a step without the shock factor of the first season. It's still enjoyable, it just doesn't reach the same heights as the first. Final: verdict 6/10 Richee 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE / APOSTLE - podcast review out now

We have a double podcast review out today, and first up we have Drew Goddard's Bad Times at the El Royale. A hotel that straddles the boarder between California and Nevada, the El Royale has lost it's lustre and seems quite deserted. Four guests all arrive at once, and the bad times soon prevail. With excellent music, script and acting, we break down how Bad Times at the El Royale manages to keep the audience surprised. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, John Hamm and Dakota Johnson.

Next up we review the Netflix exclusive Apostle, directed by The Raid's Gareth Evans. Dan Stevens plays a vagrant who is trusted to save is his sister from a reclusive religious cult, but little does he know that the cult is much darker and primal than he expected. He discuss the unanswered questions that this film raises, and talk about the terrifying torture contraptions that the island uses. Co-starring Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, and Mark Lewis Jones

You can listen to this episode directly here.

(Apologies for the background noise in the latter half of the podcast, we hope it's not too intrusive.)

Make sure you subscribe to us on itunes here and leave us a review, as well as following us on twitter and facebook.

Intro and outro music by Leigh Spence of Dancing with the Gatekeepers and The Leigh Spence Moment.

Monday, 15 October 2018

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE / APOSTLE - podcast review out tomorrow

DVD Roundup: Another day, another zombie film edition

To paraphrase Richee; another day, another bad remake of a George A. Romero film. Today sees the DVD release of Day of the Dead: Bloodline, which has been on Netflix for a while, and as you can guess, this is not one of the better remakes or spin-offs. Following loosely from the 1985 original, this one does play to its strengths by having good special effects, but the plot is as vacuous as you'd expect it to be. Read Richee's full review here.

I really loved Oscar Wilde as a teenager (I still love him now); from his ink hiding prison cape to Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations of his work to that fucking sass (or wit, whatever you want to call it), he is an illuminating figure from the staid Victorian era he lived in and, like Socrates, he was punished for being too much, no matter how much he was admired. A Rupert Everett passion project, which he directs and stars in, The Happy Prince sees Wilde reflect on his exploits during the last days of his life and all the moments that lead him to exile.

Hmmmm... Do you remember this film coming out. To be honest, The Hurricane Heist lingered in the corner of my memory, a reminder of the trend for bombastic, nonsensical , no-brained action movies that seem to becoming more and more mainstream nowadays. It's exactly what it sounds like, and if that sounds like fun to you, fill your fucking boots.

Tokyo Godfathers, directed by the late Satoshi Kon (of the amazing Perfect Blue), is getting a re-release and I think I may have to go out and buy it. First released in 2003, the film focuses on three homeless people living in Tokyo who come together to reunite an abandoned baby with its family. Exploring the idea of the pseudo-family, the family you make for yourself that isn't made of blood relatives, expect Kon's usual excellence in great storytelling and wonderful images.

Sunday, 14 October 2018


87. “Benjamin Christensen wrote the script and produced the film between the years of 1919 and 1921... My main sources are mentioned in the theatre’s playbill...”


Few films could ever get away with the explanation that extreme violence and imagery is required to tell its narrative correctly, and “Häxan” (Swedish for “The Witch,” and pronounced “haexen”), looking at the history of mysticism and the occult, is one of the rarer cases that invented a new type of film to do it. Introduced as “a presentation from a historical and cultural point of view, in 7 chapters of moving pictures,” “Häxan” is one of the first examples of documentary, one with historical reconstruction too, but the events retold were so horrifying it was heavily censored around the world, and was banned outright in the United States for many years.

I had always got the impression “Häxan” was a bit like “Nosferatu,” in that the producer was involved with the occult in some way - in fact, the money was provided by Svensk Filmindustri, later Ingmar Bergman's employer, and still running today. The idea for the film did come from its maker, the film and stage actor/director Benjamin Christensen, buying a copy of the 15th century treatise on witchcraft “Malleus Maleficarum” (“Hammer of the Witches”), written by an expelled German Catholic clergyman, which provided the legal and theological basis for witch trials – the reconstructions in the film essentially dramatize what the “Malleus Maleficarum” said you should do with witches. However, there is no evidence that Christensen took this interest beyond it being a good subject for his film, although he would play the plum role of the Devil himself, horns and all.

What does begin as a necessary lecture of lantern slides and woodcut pictures, dioramas where a wooden stick appears to point out details, and a lot of reading, even for a silent film, the action really picks up when all that cinema could do is then thrown at you: sumptuous Medieval sets; people dressed in animal costumes, having been transformed by the devil; cannibalism of human babies at night, the film stock tinted blue; cavorting nuns in a church; medieval jump scares as the Devil appears; reversing film as money disappears out of a room, to tempt someone to chase it; double exposure to show witches flying on broomsticks; and even very early stop-frame animation, portraying a tiny demon appearing through a wall.

As explained in the film, there are a great many contemporary accounts from women that can be drawn upon for how they thought they were possessed, and what happened in their minds, and the last part of “Häxan” explains this through the more “modern” and psychological understanding of hysteria, now known as conversion disorder. Modern instances of pyromania and shoplifting are deliberately reconstructed using the same actress from the medieval scenes, because we are told that is what and why they are doing it. A shot of a woman under a “temperate” shower at a clinic fades to a woman burning at a stake, highlighting an undercurrent in how the same illness has been dealt with, even by the film’s release in 1922.

Even if the United States would not show “Häxan,” Christensen would be in Hollywood within two years, directing films for MGM and Warner Bros., although he would be back in his native Denmark by 1930. His only other horror films were in a trilogy of short feature films co-written with Cornell Woolrich, two of which are now lost. Ironically, Christensen did work with Lon Chaney, but it was in a 1927 film about the Russian Revolution called “Mockery.”

“Häxan” would be reworked into “Witchcraft Through the Ages” in 1968, featuring a highly distracting jazz score, and narration by William Burroughs, the author of “Naked Lunch,” reworking Christensen’s intertitles, but Burroughs’ voice almost speaks of experience when, as a woodcut picture is shown, he says, “...whilst another old biddy has maliciously cast a spell on a man’s shoes.” She was then captured and taken to Interzone...

Saturday, 13 October 2018

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986) - Halloween Horror podcast out now

Contains spoilers!

Continuing on with our Halloween Horror month we look at Tobe Hooper's 1986 sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which takes a sharp left turn from the 1974 original. Going more down the dark comedy root, we discuss the films unique continuation of the franchise, and whether it's a good idea to be so variable with the sequels. Starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Bill Johnson, Bill Moseley and Jim Siedow.

We have a short discussion of the Human Centipede sequels in this episode. You can read Layla's review of the series here.

You can listen to this episode directly here.

Make sure you subscribe to us on itunes here and leave us a review, as well as following us on twitter and facebook.

Music by Leigh Spence of Dancing with the Gatekeepers and The Leigh Spence Moment.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

WATCHING: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007) - His and Hers Halloween Horror

Contains spoilers!

There is romance among the blood and terror. On the edge of the tundra's wilds the small town of Barrow teeters on the edge of civilisation, and the sublime is built into its seasons. Counstable-esque clouds engulf the sky, and the last setting sun for a month is the event you wait for if you want to impress your lover. Within the Arctic Circle things may look harsh, but with the dark days and snow storms there is freedom, and the freedom to live in this unforgiving environment is what makes it worth saving.

Karl Marx was one of the first people to equate vampires with the modern world, removing them from their gothic crutch to their more insidious current analogue. In his Capital, capitalism is the vampire, sucking the blood from desperate workers and child labourers dry, and working days stretching into the night "only slightly quenches the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour." The vampires of 30 Days of Night are like industrialists, seizing an opportunity to exploit an easy target for maximum gain. They even look like business men, 80s Silicon Valley types, impervious to the weather, protected by their self-imposed status.

It's no coincidence that horror started to prevail just as God was dying out. Enlightenment ideas and scientific advancements arose, and Neitzsche declared that "God is dead". The Gothic rose out of the pyre to explain the eerie, the horrible, the fear that prevailed when there was no one to blame it on. The head of the vampires, his guttural tongue speaking jargon to the unknowing, base wants and commands to his follows, questions his victim: "God?" Then, in harsh, curt English, he declares the new truth to this frightened town: "No God."

The vampires easily over-whelm Barrow. The constant dark days allow for easy victimisation, and they wonder why they hadn't thought of it before. They are eventually brought down, ultimately by one of their own; The Sheriff chooses to become a vampire, become the invader, only to stop the invasion. The town is saved, but destroyed. Love is found again, but quickly lost. The long forgotten sun, with no worries to the travails of Barrow, arises like it had been in a deep slumber, stretching it's arms across a sublime landscape, full of life and promise and new beginnings. But a new beginning means something has to end, and Sheriff, protecting his town to the end, flakes away like embers into the day.