Black Christmas (Film) Review

BlackXmasThe last in our Christmas Collab series, and I wanted something a little less saccharine, perhaps because it feels like Christmas is done and dusted now, and it’s all a little much, innit, after five days of merriment?

So step forward Christmas Horror. What better way to begin the Christmas comedown than to witness some innovative murders and laughable acting in a seventies cult classic?

I’ll elaborate more below, of course, but I have to say this wasn’t the film I though it was going to be. They sure did make ’em suspenseful back there in the 1970’s, didn’t they?

Beware *Spoilers*

Black Christmas (1974)

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Olivia HusseyKeir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

IMDB Synopsis: A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.

My Review:

It’s Christmas at the Kappa Delta Go Go sorority house and its occupants are in full festive swing. The Christmas tunes are banging and the booze is flowing as Margot Kidder and pals get into the spirit.

So nobody inside, nor Neighbourhood Watch for that matter, notice a heavy breathing weirdo scaling the outside of their pretty mock Tudor home and breaking in through the attic window. This is the stuff of absolute nightmares, I will not lie.

While the girls party on after their men have been sent home, Jess (Hussey) receives an obscene phone call from “The Moaner” (who’s called before). As the girls gather round to listen, The Moaner unleashes a torrent of abuse which is both gross and confusing. The call ends when Barb (Kidder) snarks him out and he tells her he’ll kill her.

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I need this jumper

After the call, Barb, who’s a little worse for wear, manages to upset her housemate Claire (Lynne Griffin) by calling her a virgin and she storms upstairs to pack for her Christmas break. I think we can safely say that she’s not the virgin Barb thinks she is, as she turns out to be the first house victim.

Her lifeless body is transported by our mystery killer to the attic where he remains, just him and his victim. Cosy. Meanwhile, downstairs, the rest of the gang fuss around their Den Mother, Mrs Mac (Marian Waldman) who is frankly my favourite character in the whole film, and therefore in grave danger.

Next day and Mr Harrison, Claire’s dad (James Edmond) is worried when she doesn’t show to be picked up outside the school. He finds the sorority house and is shocked to find it rather more progressive that he’d expected (e.g. everyone drinks, swears and has boys over). Mrs Mac doesn’t do much to ease his worries when he catches her referring to the cat as a “prick”.

(I love her).

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Mrs Mac: My Personal Hero

They go looking for Claire at her boyfriend’s Frat house but she’s not there so they go to the police who are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The main cop on the front desk implies that Claire’s gone and shacked up with someone in a cabin somewhere and dismisses their worries completely.

Mr Harrison is sure she ain’t that kind of girl and so are Jess, and Claire’s boyf, Chris (Art Hindle) so they demand better action from the Fuzz. Luckily, they catch the attention of Rent-a-Lieutenant, Ken Fuller (Saxon), who’s as good a cop as he is handsome. He takes them seriously and gathers together a search party. At the same time he is dealing with a missing local schoolgirl, so the party splits up looking for both girls.

Barb isn’t in the party as she’s been sent to bed to rest (too much boozing, innit) but Jess, Chris and Phyl (Andrea Martin) join Mr Harrison in the park, where they make the grizzly discovery of the school girl’s body.

Jess returns home early and I haven’t explained this yet, but she’s preggo. She has told her boyfriend, Peter (Dullea) that she doesn’t want to keep it and he’s not best pleased, fucking up an important piano recital and then smashing up his piano. (What did the piano ever do to you, Peter?).

What Jess doesn’t know is that Mrs Mac has gone into the attic to find the mewling pussycat and that was a big mistake. She doesn’t come back down. And actually nobody ever asks questions about the cat again, anyone would think they were preoccupied.

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“Hmmmm, I need something sharp for this here murder… which one though?”

One by one the girls are picked off, without being discovered by the others, and in unique and wonderful ways. For instance, I’d never seen anyone stabbed to death with a crystal unicorn before and now I can cross that off my Bucket List.

The frequency of the obscene calls from The Moaner steps up as well, so Jess reports them finally to Lieutenant Sex Brows, who arranges a tap on the phone.

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“Why thank you, yes I do spend a fair bit of time on my brows. Stephanie at It’s Not You, It’s Your Brows on Main Street does them.”

Peter turns up and is horrible to Jess, threatening her when she refuses to back down on the abortion issue. He smashes some bulbs on the Christmas tree to show he means business then storms out. Lieutenant Sex Brows doesn’t like him on sight and begins to wonder if he’s guilty of the phone calls.

I’m going to leave this here I think, after the Questions Section, as it’s worth a watch but let’s just say that the calls are traced – and they’re coming from inside the house! 

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Barb and Phyl took their annual game of Twister VERY seriously

The bumbling cop on front desk is tasked with the issue of getting Jess out of the house without freaking her out but fails dismally (you had one job!).

Plus, Jess isn’t the kind of chick to leave her friends alone in a house with a mass murderer so she pops upstairs to wake Barb and Phyl. That doesn’t work out too well and would ya know it, there’s a final showdown of the Slasher Movie kind.

HURRAY!

Questions: 

Will anyone else besides poor Jess ever answer the fucking phone? Will anyone survive? What the hell is Peter’s beef?

Will the cops ever properly search the house? I mean if calls are coming from inside the house, does that not warrant a thorough shake down of the premises? I guess not.

And… will you ever sleep again? Because I don’t know if I will.

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Eye eye

My Thoughts:

I thought this would be a lot more fluffy than it was with more pillow fights and sorority girls in negligees. I’m not disappointed that it wasn’t that way, in fact I was pleasantly surprised by how tense and genuinely creepy this movie is.

It’s also infinitely more subtle than slashers of the modern age, though it still isn’t for the light-hearted. I mean, there are hooks through throats and suffocations a plenty.

At one point it actually had a Hitchcockian vibe (Psycho (1960), naturally) and that’s what makes it stand out a little more from many films of this ilk. I’d even dare to put it up there with some of the seventies greats. I mean, it’s not Halloween (1978) but it’s not far off.

I recommend it, if you’re looking for an alternative to ABC Made-for-TV festive parables, animated elves and Christmas specials (not that there’s anything at all wrong with any of those things)

My Rating: 4/5. Yeah I dug this.

What did my sweetest baboo Jillian think though? Find out here.

Icetastrophe (Film) Review

HNR9M6HJillian’s pick this week and a combination of two well-worn genres. That’s Christmas and Sci-fi, obvs. Because isn’t that perfect? Like Fish and, erm, candyfloss (the perfect combo).

Christmas Icetastrophe (2014) AKA just Icetastrophe

Director: Jonathon Winfrey
Stars: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Richard Harmon

IMDB Synopsis: A meteorite brings ice and freezing temperatures, which threatens to harm the residents of a small town at Christmas.

My Review:

Charlie Ratchet (honestly) is an impossibly hot dad living in a small town just trying to make a living and stop his evil eyed son Tim from blowing himself up. Separated from his wife Faye (the superbly named Boti Bliss) who lives in the next town along, he’s honestly just too attractive for this world.

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“Yeah I’m just looking forward to kicking back for a few days, eating mince pies, watching Home Alone… you?”

He works for the town mayor Ben Crooge (lol) (played by Mike Dopud), though I’m not sure I know exactly what he does. Something manly, construction/mining? It doesn’t really matter. Ben is not well liked in the town (he is also quite easy on the eye, I won’t lie) but Charlie has to try and bite his tongue because he works for him (I hear you sister!).

This is easier said than done and things get harder (giggle) when we find out Tim is dating Ben’s daughter Marley (Tiera Skovbye). They’re keeping it hush hush though Tim wants to come out as a couple.

I’m p. sure this is because Tim is punching above his weight and Marley knows it but whatever kids, I don’t really care.

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“What do you mean I look like Cyril Sneer from The Raccoons?”

Oh yeah and before we even meet the gang we meet Alex Novak, a mature student obsessed with a meteorite she’s been tracking for some time. Her colleague takes the piss out of her for choosing to spend Christmas Eve working rather than letting her hair down and having a life.

Alex is obviously a bit stupid as she’s supposedly tracking this meteorite so closely, yet fails to warn anybody that it’s about to hit, least of all the small town where Charlie and co are trying to enjoy a jolly Christmassy event in the centre of Main Street.

Just before the meteorite hits, Ben sacks Charlie (for being too good-looking?). I blinked and missed this scene so I’m not sure why, it might be because of Tim and Marley’s relationship. Marley’s brother Scott (Andrew Francis) definitely finds out about them and isn’t best pleased. He’s also a dreadful human being.

So, hit the meteorite does, killing several locals in some wonderfully creative ways and revealing itself to be unlike anything anybody has ever seen before. Like, for a start, it’s all icy and shit, not hot and fiery. Ooooooh!

Ben is a weak little punk and leaves the town Santa to freeze to death when he tries to help a frozen kid, proving to the viewer what a total arse he really is. I sure hope he has the opportunity later to redeem himself…

The town begins to evacuate and head over to the clinic where Charlie’s wife works. But this being a disaster flick means not all goes according to plan.

This happened at some point. Man, he’s COLD

Alex the Scientist turns up, nearly gets killed by the icy fingers of this bizarre natural phenomenon and Charlie then inexplicably decides to put the needs of this idiotic woman ahead of his loved ones. I mean, he’s never met this fool, who’s more than willing to head straight into the eye of the storm (where she will almost certainly perish), and that makes him just as foolish by association.

I’m sorry, we’re all meant to be blown away by how good a man Charlie is but I just thought he was kind of dickish. For a start he sends his son off on his own to make his way to safety. Not the actions of a responsible person, soz Charlie, I don’t care how delightful your jawline is.

Tim does make it to the clinic momentarily but when he the finds out Marley hasn’t arrived he goes rogue and dashes off to find her. Marley meanwhile has stopped with her brother to help a stranded motorist and somehow the two of them end up out in the open. Which is not a good scene, man, not when killer ice crystals are sprouting out of the ground willy-nilly.

I know, you never thought you’d read a sentence like that in your life, did ya?

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“CALL MY FUCKING AGENT!!”

There are deaths left right and centre, some superbly shit special effects (or basically just the one over and over, the aforementioned ice crystals). There are explosions, bonding moments, and lots and lots of snow.

Questions: 

Will Charlie make it out with his beautiful face intact? Will Tim rescue Marley (and will she just STFU for one second PLEASE)? Will Scott get his just desserts (snow cone, anyone?) for being such a prick?

Will Ben come through in the end?

Will ridiculous Alex get her all-important sample of meteorite so she can score Brownie points with whoever still cares?

Will you care? Is this so bad it’s really good? And what happens if you ignore all the advice and eat the yellow snow?!

If you get to the end, you will undoubtedly find the answer to 95% of these questions.

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“Oh hokey cokey cokey…”

My Thoughts:

Sigh. No. Sorry. It was pretty dire. I found myself wishing for an ice shark or something, maybe even a troll, to come crashing through the trees to shake the party up a bit.

The characters annoyed the shit out of me, I didn’t care if any of them lived or died and Charlie didn’t even have the decency to do a shower scene.

So thanks but no thanks, Icetastrophe.

My Rating: 1.5/5. Horrific but my 1.5 is solely for the dude who gets a deadly icicle spear through his throat. God bless him. ❄❄❄

What did my beautiful Christmas angel Jillian think of this hot mess? Find out here if you dare.

❄❄❄

The Mistle-Tones (TV Movie) Review

the-mistle-tones-149032-posterIt’ll be Christmas in less than two weeks, man. How did that happen? I guess I’d better buy a turkey soon…

But instead of doing the chores that matter, I’m fighting off a hangover from Friday night (still) and enjoying the lead up to the big day in my pants. Which means mince pies and this Made for TV Christmas gem.

My choice this week and I deliberately went for something as cheesy as possible. I think I can safely say that I’ve delivered. This is a steaming pile of glittery poo with a sprig of holly on top.

The Mistle-Tones (2012)

Director: Paul Hoen
Stars: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Tori Spelling

IMDB Synopsis: A talented singer forms a musical group and challenges her rivals to a competition on Christmas Eve.

My Review:

Holly (yes honestly) is a singer who dreams of being part of the local Christmas girl group, The Snow Belles. Her dead mother founded the group you see, over 30 years ago.

Unfortunately, The Belles of Holly’s generation are now run by Queen Bitch, Marci (think a cut-price Regina George played by Tori Spelling) and her band of merry minions.

They’re holding auditions that very morning and even though Holly is running late (cat flushes the toilet then ruins her dress), she makes it just in time to wow the group with her voice, which is predictably that of a wee angel.

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“This isn’t Scrapbookers Anonymous?”

Marci is no fool however and gives the last position in The Belles to the less talented Staci, so as not to be upstaged (sensible). Holly is left gutted and to top it all off, her boss is being kind of anal and dickish. (But he is hot).

Peed off, Holly is driving when she gets the idea to form her own band. Why not right? So she hot foots it into the mall and gets the boss to agree to a talent show, opening up the competition to anyone who fancies entering.

So now all our Holly has to do is put together a group so she can smash the shit out of The Snow Belles once and for all. And she has a week to do so – but where does one find secretly talented individuals at such short notice, hmmm?

Luckily she seems to work in a densely saturated talent factory and enlists Larry from Purchasing (Jason Rogel), Bernie from HR (Megan Kathleen Duffy) and AJ from I’m Not Sure Where (Andy Gala) – all of who can sing but not really dance and have no pizzazz, basically (as they say in the business).

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Missing something, but it’s not denim

How on earth will Holly get around this? While she tries to work it out she ends up in a bar she’s never been to on Karaoke Night, where she bumps into Hot Boss Nick (Jonathon Patrick Moore). Only he’s not acting like her boss, more like Jon Bon Jovi and guess what? He’s goooooooooood.

So Holly finds a (nefarious) way to get him to help the group win Deck the Mall and show The Belles who’s the best.

Questions:

Will Holly become the Ultimate Belle? Will Marci get egg(nog) on her face, as well as her well-deserved comeuppence? What’s her major malfunction anyway?

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“On Wednesdays we wear…” YES WE KNOW

Will Nick help The Mistle-Tones become more than mediocre? And is he doing all this for good reason, AKA because he lurves Holly? What about the promotion he so desperately wants?

Would Holly’s Mum be proud of Holly? And OMG did you know that Holly’s Dad is Reginald VelJohnson (Sargent Powell from Die Hard (1988), no less)?

All these neatly posed questions and more will be tackled, you know the drill.

My Thoughts:

This was terrible but enjoyable.

Sister Sister‘s Tia is likeable enough and I wonder if that’s actually her voice. Pretty sure that Tori’s singing voice isn’t her own but you never know, her dad could definitely afford singing lessons growing up.

I wish Marci had been bitchier and in the film more, a bit more sabotage wouldn’t have gone amiss. It would also have been nice to find out more about what’s made Marci  such a stone cold c—. I have a weird obsession with Tori Spelling, I don’t know why.

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“Overdressed, Moi?”

All in all, this film is what it is but exactly what I wanted on a Sunday afternoon of carb scoffing.

My Rating: 3/5. More bitchiness and general tomfoolery would have pumped the rating right up.

That’s my view, but does Jillian share it? Find out here.

The Wolfpack (Film) Review

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This film, man. It’s different to anything we’ve reviewed before as part of our collaboration and that’s a good thing I think. I have no idea where to start on this documentary but I’ll give it a damn good go anyway, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

I think that this will be the last in our Blog Free or Die Hard series for a while, in favour of Christmas movies (yey!). Jill and I haven’t discussed this at length yet, though we’re both totes up for it, so watch this tinsel encrusted space! (Basically, I cannot bloody wait).

Also, for the first time in forever I’m going to put the tree up before mid-December, so that gives you an idea of how festive I’m starting to feel.

But to the movie. As always *spoilers* ahead!

I might add here that my enjoyment of this film came in part from not knowing much about it. I got a brief synopsis but then deliberately didn’t dig any deeper because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I wasn’t even sure it was a documentary.

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Awkward when six of you rock up in the same outfit

The Wolfpack (2015)

Director: Crystal Moselle
Stars: The Angulo Brothers (Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna), Visnu (Sister), Chloe Pecorino

IMDB Synopsis: Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch.

My Review:

The Angulo Brothers are six brothers, ranging from (at the time of filming) 11 to 18. They are Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna. Confined to the four-bedroom, sixteenth floor apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan they share with their sister Visnu, and their mother and father, the boys are home schooled and rarely leave the building.

Mother Susanne educates the boys the best she can from the comfort of their own home, while they gain the rest of their life experience from the movies. Such favourites as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and The Dark Knight (2008) become their outlets, which they re-enact together and sometimes film on a shaky camcorder.

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Bat-ears and chill?

Oscar, the boys’ father guards the only front door key and strictly monitors (and more or less prohibits) unauthorised trips outside. He maintains that the streets outside are like a ‘prison’ and worries about the danger of drugs. This means that the boys have hardly set foot outside their door in all their life-times and never interact with anybody outside their family.

Things changed though, the day Mukunda (then 15) left the apartment without his father’s knowledge or permission and, in his own words, “one thing lead to another.” (Going out in a homemade Michael Myers mask can do that for you, yo). This documentary focuses on this event and how it changed things not only for Mukunda but for all the brothers.

The film is a patch work of home footage, interviews with the boys and clips of them re-enacting their favourite films. Tarantino is a regular feature, as are Christian Bale and Heath Ledger‘s Joker. The boys have the performances down, and play out each scene with painstaking detail.

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Clownin’ around

We learn more about Oscar and Susanne’s origin story, of how they met when they were young and idealistic, and how they came to be here. Susanne is loving and protective of her boys, though clearly regretful when it comes to how it all turned out.

Oscar, well I don’t understand a single word of what he says, even with subtitles. I don’t know what has driven his decision to keep his family virtual prisoners under his rule but I’m sure he believes it’s for their own protection.

He beats his wife (something the brother’s reveal) and there’s heavy implication that she’s even more controlled than her children, taking the brunt of his irrational behaviour. This isn’t really touched upon too much but there’s a lurking menace there in the background.

The boys, following their brother’s original escape, start to head out as a group and slowly but surely begin to interact with the world around them. Dad can’t stop them as they grow older and even Mum begins to reach outside their circle, by contacting her own mother who she hasn’t seen since she had her children.

I’m going to go with my opinion that the less you know about it, the more you’ll be blown away by this story and stop here. This post will be a little less waffley than usual as a result but there you go. I’ll obvs still be asking the hard-hitting questions because that’s my thing. So…

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On beach days we wear black

Questions:

How will/do the boys adapt to the outside world? Will they maintain traditional relationships, meet girls, make friends, etc?

What the fucking hell is Oscar on about in every single one of his interviews? Why did Susanne put up with all this in the first place?

And – how is it that each and every one of the Angulo brothers seems kind and lovely, and more importantly well-balanced, when they’ve lead anything but a normal life?

My Thoughts:

God. I watched this with my heart in my throat. It’s very emotional. It’s also crazy that this is a true story and that this family really exists.

The Angulo brothers are beautiful, with long, long hair but what stands out most about them is the purity of their souls (*vom* at my corny wording, but it’s true). I guess it’s their innocence we see primarily, they’re kind and gentle, and despite the fact there’s some very real anger and resentment between father and some of his sons, they never resort to bitterness.

Of course, we don’t know how things are when the cameras aren’t rolling but on the face of these interviews, they just seem lovely. I would like to hang with them, please.

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Our other car’s invisible

There are elements of this life I would like to know much more about, particularly the question of “Why?” (really how can this happen?). But also, I’d like to know more about their sister, Visnu who is described as “special” by one of the boys.

I just want more really, and could watch and listen to them for hours and hours. Their props and costumes, mostly constructed with paper, are incredible. Almost as impressive as the real thing!

Alas, I had to make do with this brief glimpse into a life less ordinary. I fear I’ve played this lovely film down but please, if you love the weird and wonderful, and the movies, this is one for you. Promise.

My Rating: 5/5 LOVED. I’m still thinking about it this morning with a mixture of awe and sadness, so that can only be a good thing.

What did Wifey think? Pop on over to see for yourselves.

NB: This Wiki page is really fascinating the and tells more about how the Director came into contact with the Angulos.

The House on Telegraph Hill (Film) Review

The House on Telegraph Hill - Real Location 7

Jillian’s pick this week and it’s Film Noir, one I hadn’t seen before nor, if I’m honest, even heard of. But I love love love this genre and studied it closely during my Film A-Level (100 years ago), so it’s close to my heart.

We’re still on Blog Free & Die Hard time, and I like it. So here’s to a couple more random titles before we move in a different direction. Maybe Christmas movies?

But for now, how was this one, and how does it stack up against some better known Noir, such as my fave, Mildred Pierce (1945), Double Indemnity (1944) and Laura (1944)?

Well, read on, my friends.

As usual *Beware Spoilers*!

The_House_on_Telegraph_Hill-489480248-largeThe House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, William Lundigan

IMDB Synopsis: Concentration camp survivor Victoria Kowelska finds herself involved in mystery, greed, and murder when she assumes the identity of a dead friend in order to gain passage to America.

My Review:

Viktoria Kowalska’s husband and home have been annihilated by the Germans and she finds herself in a Polish POW camp, just trying to survive each day.

She’s befriended a woman named Karin Dernakova (Natasha Lytess), who has sent her baby Christopher to America to live with her rich aunt. She’s distraught, not eating or sleeping, despite Viktoria’s best efforts to care for her.

The camp Mean Girls accuse Vik of buttering up Karin just because she has rich relatives. The two do have a plan to find their way to ‘merica to be with Chris but Vik loves Karin and is devvo’d when she finds her dead one night.

Devastation quickly gives way to something else though, and Viktoria dries her eyes and grabs Karin’s identification papers. The voice over, Viktoria herself, asks why not claim Karin’s identity, right? Still go to America and get the kid, live with the rich aunt (who’s unlikely to realise given the years gone by)?

You’re inclined to agree after everything she’s been through.

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“Wake up! I need your opinion on this head scarf.”

Shortly afterwards, the new Karin is interviewed by the Liberation Department about where she’ll head next and she’s very upset (guilt has already set in). A nice Major is kind and patiently explains a few things to her. She’s adamant there’s nothing left for her in Warsaw and refuses to go back.

Viktoria/Karin sends a telegram to Aunt Sophia but a few days later receives a response saying she’s passed away (but to pop into the lawyer’s office in NY if she’s ever about).

Things look shit for New Karin™ but she’s a Noir girl and Noir girls got gumption, so she sucks it up and jumps on a boat that eventually gets her to New York City. In the office the lawyer is a bit snotty, suspicious of her not being who she says she is. Also present is Alan Spender, the kid’s official guardian and also a relative of Aunt Sophia.

Basically, all Sophia’s money is due to go to Christopher (the kid) when he comes of age but until then, her big house and all her cash is Alan’s. Karin manages to convince Alan that she’s legit and he takes her to lunch.

NB: I have to say here that nothing good can possibly come of getting involved with someone called Alan. Sorry, it’s true. Run, Karin, Run! 

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It’s all fun and games until somebody’s brakes get slashed…

Karin suspects Alan has the hots for her and decides to milk it for all it’s worth. They have a brief courtship and then get married. A few days later Alan takes Karin to San Francisco, where Christopher lives in the house on Telegraph Hill.

Karin meets her ‘son’ who is being taken care of by a moody governess, Margaret (Fay Baker). Margaret clearly hates Karin at first sight but loves the boy so it’s sort of alright.

(Margaret is amazing with one of the best resting bitch faces even captured on celluloid.)

On their first night in the new house, Alan puts his lovely wife to bed and retires to the guest bedroom, claiming that he wants them to redecorate their bedroom before they share it or some bullshit.

Poster - House on Telegraph Hill, The_03Later, Karin goes for a wander and catches Margaret coming out of the parlour where Alan is kicking back. Looks like they’re up to no good. Or, do governesses always waft about on landings in sheer black negligees?

I’ll try to keep the rest of this brief because a lot goes down but let’s just say that odd things start to happen and Karin wonders if she’s being punished by Aunt Sophia, who gazes down poe-faced from a mahoosive portrait above the mantel.

Oh yes and one day a hot man called Mark rocks up (think 1950’s Greg Kinnear) – and surprise! – he’s the kind Major from Belsen (Karin’s form concentration camp home). Of all the cocktail parties in all the world…

Mark doesn’t think much of Alan and quickly makes himself available to Karin, lightly trying to get in her pants but also trying to be her friend. She soon needs one when her brakes are cut and she’s almost killed.

Lucky for her a pile of sand is strategically placed where she lands so she gets away unscathed. This prompts Karin to start doing some digging into Alan as she’s determined to prove he wants to bump her off. Mark is sympathetic but urges her not to jump to any conclusions (because women, as we all know, are prone to bouts of hysteria).

Also, Karin is completely blanked by the mechanic who fixes her car, even though it is HER CAR. This is a fifties film obviously so I shouldn’t be surprised and Karin should be confined to the kitchen, but still – some men still talk directly to other men rather than dare talk to a lowly woman and it’s seventy fucking years later! RAGE!

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Karin was a massive fan of Grand Theft Auto V

Anyway, Karin finds out that Chris was almost harmed too in an explosion and Margaret is cagey when questioned about it. The two women have a massive barney and Karin sacks Margaret, but Alan comes back and patronises Karin until she agrees to take her back.

Karin uncovers more shit, Alan tries to trick her into thinking it’s all in her head (been there) and there’s a dramatic show down between husband and wife. Who will be triumphant?

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“Nice dress…lol!”

Questions:

Will Karin’s dirty secret be uncovered? Will New Karin™’s love for the Real Karen® mean she saves Christopher from potential danger?

Will Alan the Fuckingfuckface get what’s coming? What’s Margaret’s beef?

Who does the ladies’ eyebrows?

What will become of the beautiful old house on Telegraph Hill and… Will I ever boast a wardrobe as sumptuous as Karin’s?

All these questions and more will be tackled in this tense thriller.

My Thoughts:

This was dead good. Sometimes I feel a little dubious about older films, not the tried and tested ones obviously but ones I haven’t seen. Will they be dull and dry, full of wooden acting and crap scenarios or…?

Not this one. It’s actually quite tense and had me gripped from the opening credits.

Valentina Cortese (like she was going to be anything other than an actress?) keeps you interested in New Karin™ all the way and never made me doubt she was a good woman at heart, despite the shady start to her new life.

I’d still have rooted for her if she was bad, in fact my only criticism is that I would have liked to have seen her being more of a Bad Bitch. Would one cat fight with the nanny and more red lipstick/smoking have killed you, New Karin™?

I’d also have been done with more Margaret, more female solidarity at the end (they’re allowed to despise each other initially, have a little tussle, realise all they’re fighting for is definitely not worth it and then team up) and all men being done away wit, including the kid.

alfredI mean, Mark is nice and all but he’s a bit handsy and Chris is pretty much just that kid from Mad magazine, very 2D.

Otherwise, it had a good plot, made me shout at the screen a couple of times (sorry, I just hate condescending men called Alan) and entertained me for the reasonable run time of 1 hour and 33 minutes.

My Rating: 4/5

How does Jill rate this movie? Head over to see for yourselves.

3 Women (Film) Review

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Abba took a very different artistic turn when the men left

Welcome to Blog Free or Die Hard, where no film choice is wrong. Except maybe this one, which I take full and guilty responsibility for.

When the best you can say about a film is that it’s ‘atmospheric’, you know you’ve got problems, son. I had to watch multiple episodes of Chewing Gum straight after this 2 HOUR SNOOZEFEST just to erase my own memory for a while.

Sadly, it has proven short-term as it’s all still right here. Handy for a film review, annoying for the rest of life. Still, since Jill and I in the business of ripping the shit out of movies, this one should be a peach.

Shall we?

There are *spoilers* here so be careful, though trust me, it won’t make a difference.

3 Women (1977)

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Janice Rule

IMDB Synopsis: Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie’s room-mate.

My Review:

We open on a swimming pool full of golden oldies being lead around by seventies nymphs in uniform grey swimming costumes. All this is set to one of the most jarring soundtracks I’ve ever heard (it also feels like trigger music, see: Zoolander’s Relax). The effect is ominous AF and I guess that’s exactly the point.

I don’t know if it’s Spacek’s presence or the truth but this scene, with its frenetic use of the music and slightly hazy, languishing shots, are reminiscent of Carrie (1976).

Just happy no-one's telling her to 'plug it up'
Just happy no-one’s telling her to ‘plug it up’

Spacek is all wide-eyed waif of course but less Carrie than in Carrie. As Pinky, she’s a ball of childlike energy. New to town (from Texas), new to the job with seemingly no friends or family, Pinky is vulnerable but I didn’t really feel that sorry for her, given that she’s so freaking annoying.

She sets her sights (for some reason) on the elegant Millie, who has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp at all times. She’s cold man, and sometimes another ‘c’ word, which I won’t use in this review (but only because my mum might read it).

The other girls at the retirement centre where they all work are quite fun. Super bitchy and indifferent to everything around them, but fun. They just aren’t that into Millie, if truth be told.

How they laughed (which is weird as I don't remember Millie smiling once)
How they laughed (which is weird as I don’t remember Millie smiling once)

Pinky and Millie build a precarious  friendship, which is mostly one-sided. When Millie needs a roommate, Pinky jumps at the opportunity. Millie is appalled at the uncouth way in which Pinky behaves, though she doesn’t drink, smoke or seem to have any sexual experience, while Millie is all about men.

Always good to take a roommate who disgusts you, I feel.

Shit just got real weird
Shit just got real weird

The new roomies spend time at a desert bar called Dodge City where we meet, presumably, the third woman – Willie Hart. Willie is mostly mute, a bit trippy and heavily pregnant. She is married to Edgar (a former stuntman and don’t we bloody know it). She also paints bizarre murals that appear throughout the film, one of which depicts 3 women.

Oooooh…

Anyway, this film takes over 2 HOURS to do what a nice 90 minute film could of done. In short hand, Millie is as unpopular as Pinky but either has the hide of a rhinoceros or just can’t read basic social signals, because she just isn’t taking a hint.

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This aesthetic, all day, erryday

Pinky is unpopular because she’s weird but desperation rises like steam from Millie, who seems to have ideas above her station, trying to entice friends to dinner parties (when she serves pigs in blankets, count me in).

One night she gets stood up by her so-called friends and goes to Dodge City, alone. She returns, drunk, in the early hours with Edgar and they ain’t planning to talk about his former ‘acting’ career, if you know what I mean.

Pinky looks shocked (more likely nauseous) and Millie goes off on one about being judged, telling Pinky that nobody likes her because she doesn’t drink or smoke. She then tells her to move out.

Pinky takes it well by throwing herself into the apartment block’s pool, knocking herself unconscious. In the furore, Willie saves her (man, this woman has a full-time job running a bar, paints all the time and is also 9 months pregnant, a little help here!). She also witnesses Edgar leaving Millie’s, the dirty fucker. She judges him hard with her eyes.

Also, I hadn’t realised that they all lived in the same block until this moment.

Millie finally does something sort of kind, and runs around dealing with Pinky’s business, rounding up her parents (who live in Texas) and puts them up while her friend is in a coma. When Pinky wakes however she claims she’s never seen these old people in her life and screams for them to fuck off.

This part is never explained as far as I know, nor resolved. They simply go home to Texas and aren’t heard from again. Pinky recovers quickly and has suddenly become a drinker, smoker and all-round sex bomb. She also learns. to. shoot!

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“When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”

She starts wearing make-up (the markings of a sexual woman) and plays games with Millie, who’s desperate for what? Redemption, I guess. This change in their roles is interesting… for about 10 seconds. Sadly, it’s not really seen through.

There’s a bit of a sideline when we find out that Pinky has used Millie’s Social Security number for some reason and Millie, sticking up for her friend, quits her job over it. Pinky then starts screwing Edgar and… I’m leaving this here because I have spend way too much time on this dreadful film already.

There’s a flipping bizarre and awkward climax – and then… well, I don’t really get it, I won’t lie.

Questions:

What the fuck is the point? is my overall feeling. Why is it so slow? is another. Howevs, to do this properly, some real questions:

Will Pinky and Millie make it together as friends? Will their roles revert back? Will you care by the end of the second hour?

Who in their right mind would go anywhere near Edgar? And what of his beautiful preggo wife, and their wee baby?

You’ll see. If you can be arsed. If not, I can email you the ending so you don’t have to waste any of your precious time on this utter codswallop.

My Thoughts:

Don’t make me think about this anymore. It’s horrendous.

I’m surprised that Robert Altman has let me down so badly but then again, I’m sure he thought he knew what he was doing. The whole film is supposed to make you feel uneasy but there’s just not enough in it. No real danger in the end (for the women, at least), just mind games.

So much is unexplained and unless I missed it when I went to the loo, part of the climax happens off screen, which makes it feel unfinished (thinking about it, I might have missed it). I don’t get the ending at all. It’s all just very bizarre and I’m sure it’s not just because I’m a thicko.

Any positives? Hm. Well, Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall are both very beautiful, I enjoyed looking at them.

I was going to say that maybe they were both chosen for their work in other iconic horror movies (Carrie/The Shining (1980)) but sadly, that theory has to be thrown out the window (The Shining was made 3 years after this one). Both are 1 million times superior and both probably in my Top 25 of all time.

Can I have a nap now? 

My Rating: 1.5/5 – Don’t bother. It’s shit.

So, will Jillian still be willing to be my Blog Wife after I’ve steered us so spectacularly wrong? Or did she love it? Find out here.

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“Hello? Yes, I’d like to speak to someone who gives a shit. About this film I mean…”

The Man Who Never Was (Film) Review

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I wasn’t looking forward to viewing this film, it has to be said. Jill told me a little about her pick a few days ago and all that stood out from the synopsis were the words: World War II.

This made me assume that I wouldn’t find anything to enjoy about it, as war movies are my least favourite type of film, joint first with Westerns. I was wrong, of course, as I quite often am and I’m glad we went with this one, as I would never have seen it of my own volition. Thank you J for picking it and prodding me to step outside my comfort zone.

Fitting also that we should view it today on Remembrance Sunday.

(Incidentally, we’re doing a free for all at the moment, post-Halloween so expect lots of weird and wonderful film choices in the lead up to Christmas!)

So, on we go! As always *spoilers!*

The Man Who Never Was (1956)

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Clifford Webb, Gloria Grahame, Robert Flemyng

IMDB Synopsis: True story of a British attempt to trick the enemy into weakening Sicily’s defenses before the 1943 attack, using a dead man with faked papers.

My Review: 

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Gorgeous George

Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu and his mate George are faffing around at some sort of parachute demonstration (?) when George jokingly comes up with a macabre plan to confuse the Germans (something to do with fake papers, a faulty parachute and an unsuspecting British soldier being sent crashing to his death).

Montagu initially poo-poos George’s idea but later comes back to it, having refined it in his mind. The men decide to send an already dead body into Spain (too obvs to send it directly to the Germans, so they’re counting on the grape vine to carry intel to them), carrying fake papers saying they’re planning to invade Greece next (when really they’re heading into Sicily). Sneaky, eh?

They have to get this plan through the heads of the country first, including Churchill himself (voiced by an uncredited Peter Sellers). They then have to iron out every last detail to make it seem legit, so there’s a lot of to and fro, as they wait to be authorised. Then they have to find a body, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Said body needs to wash up casually on the Spanish shore, so it can’t be damaged or suspicious in any way.

Despite this tall order, Montagu gets his body. This is thanks to his right hand woman, Pam (Josephine Griffin) who tends to waft about the office making coffee and looking good in cardigans. She finds a recently deceased gentleman in St John’s Wood so the team rush over there, where they have to convince his father to donate the body to their cause (without being able to tell him what it is).

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ROCK YOUR BODY

The deceased, Willie Martin, is a Scotsman who didn’t put much stock in the human body after death, believing only in the soul (or something), so his father lets him go without much fuss. He just asks that his son’s body is treated with dignity and that he gets a Christian burial. Montagu agrees to the first one (fingers crossed behind his back presumably) and says he’ll try to get the second one.

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Pam

Pam lives in an apartment with her BFF Lucy, a hot librarian who’s dating a soldier called Joe. Joe’s going off to fight and Lucy makes him promise to call her every day. He says he will and if, for whatever reason he can’t, his friend Larry will instead.

Pam and Lucy talk about men (because that’s what us sheilas do, non-stop, some things never change) and the more pragmatic Pam admits she doesn’t want to fall in love with someone, only to lose them to the war. She vows to get through it before thinking about that. Sensible.

Now the gang have their body, they have to make Willie a back story and load him with possessions that make it seem realistic, such as watch, ID, cross bow.

George suggests that Pam write a love letter to him, to make it seem like he had a personal life. So Pam tries but fails to come up with anything believable (never been in love, innit).

Luckily, lovelorn Lucy is at hand to inject some flava into the letter, dictating some gorgeous words dripping with passion. Pam laps it up and gets it down on paper. Luc speaks from the heart so can only be heading for pure devastation in her own love life.

PS. Joe has just come back and then left again on a bigger mission, not before proposing to Lucy and putting a ring on it, yo.

The men are impressed when the letter comes back and rib Pam, who admits her friend wrote it. The men label Lucy the “alleged friend” because they don’t believe she exists, though this doesn’t stop George being a perv and asking questions about what she looks like. This is a fifties movies, so probably not surprising that this is all he really cares about.

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Cheers to the fucking weekend

I’m really stretching this out but basically, the plan is followed to the letter and the Spanish find the body as expected, which the Germans in turn learn about. Meanwhile, Lucy frets about Joe and Montagu keeps getting little stabs of conscience about the unceremonious dumping of Willie’s body.

Later, the briefcase with the papers in it is returned to the British with the letters seemingly untouched. For a minute there Montagu thinks all hope is lost and that their plan has failed. But, with the help of possibly the shittest scientist of all time (who has an iron and a pair of scissors to work with – government budget cuts?) they learn that the letter was steamed open and then expertly resealed to look like it hasn’t been read. Ooooooh!

So now they know that the Spanish (and more importantly, the Germans) know their fake information… Victory, bitches!

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“Ummmmmmm, I think I can hear your iPhone ringing, Lucy…”

Well, not quite as suddenly a sinister Irishman named Patrick O’ Reilly (Stephen Boyd) (a Nazi spy with a shocking accent) rocks up and starts digging into Willie Martin’s (fake) past, thus alerting himself to Montagu and co.

It seems like the game is up but is it though?

Questions: 

Will Team Montagu achieve what they set out to? Will Joe come home in one piece? How fucking cool is Lucy? Why is Patrick O’ Reilly so scary (he’s like the Christoph Waltz of the 1950’s, all passive aggression behind an ice cold smile).

All these questions and more will be answered if you watch to the very end!

My Thoughts:

This film was actually way more entertaining that expected. I mean for a start the plot is satisfyingly dark. Planting a corpse with fake papers to throw off the Germans? Bit sick, innit?

I like the main characters, particularly the women and felt suitably sad for Willie Martin’s dad, who’s completely deflated when he hands over his son’s body.

There’s a little dig at the Fuhrer at one point, which made me smile and O’ Reilly genuinely gave me the willies. All in all, colour me impressed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 

Did my boo Jillian like this film? Visit The Pink Panther Snipes Again to find out!

Rosemary’s Baby (Film) Review

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See Halloween Month off with a bang, I thought. Let’s watch a classic and see how it stands up in today’s modern landscape, I thought. Well, that was about all the thought I put into this week’s choice. I mean, it was this or Halloween (1978) and the latter seemed too obvious. Plus, I wouldn’t want to slag off that masterpiece, I’m sure on close examination it would be flawless (lol).

Anyway, this made the grade because I’ve only seen it once, a long ago but remember being blown away by the interiors and gripped by the unsteady hand of paranoia throughout. It reminds me of the films I fell in love with decades ago, when I got my first TV set in my bedroom. My self-education, if you will.

But, has R’s B stood the test of time? Or is it ripe for modernisation as the 2014 mini-series starring Zoe Saldana would suggest?

I’ll let you know my thoughts below.

As always *spoilers*

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

IMDB Synopsis: A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

My Review: 

Shiny happy couple, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse fall in love with an impossibly gorgeous apartment in downtown NYC and hastily slap their deposit down before really looking into it like most normal people would. Guy is an actor (though I’m not sure what he’s been in, Rosemary, any idea?), while Ro is a professional waif and cushion fluffer.

“What could possibly go wrong, my love?”

They’re very sweet and in love, with their whole future ahead of them – this is going to be a happy ending right? Riiiiiiight. I can promise you that someone will be happy by the time the credits roll but that’s all I’m giving you.

Just before they move in, their lovely friend Hutch (Maurice Evans) tells them the bloody history of the building, which includes witchcraft and cannibalism. This doesn’t phase the couple though and they move in. There’s even a redecorating montage which I live for, I really do.

While Guy pops off on auditions and films commercials, Rosemary makes sure the apartment is perfect. She greets her husband with a pint of beer and plate of sandwiches on his return every night (!) and they make love with good frequency. One evening Rosemary meets her neighbour, Terry (Victoria Vetri) who stays with the Castevet’s on the 7th floor (which is the same floor as the Woodhouse’s and right next door).

Terry tells Ro the story of how the Castevet’s took her in off the streets and treat her as the daughter they never had. Terry shows off a pongy lucky charm she wears around her neck, which Ro admires/turns her nose up at in equal measure. The girls never quite get to cement their new friendship however, as a few days later the Woodhouse’s return to their building to find Terry has thrown herself from the window and is pretty fucking dead.

(There’s claret everywhere and I have to say the first time in a film where I remember seeing this. Usually when someone jumps off a building all you get is a delicate pool of the red stuff by their head. In this scene it is all over the surrounding cars, sidewalk, road, in the cops hair, etc).

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“And that there is my favourite piece in the apartment: the two way mirror.”

It’s over Terry’s broken corpse that we, and the Woodhouses, first meet the Castevets, Minnie and Roman (Sidney Blackmer). They are gloriously oddball and Minnie rocks the exact aesthetic I intend to in 30 years time (20). From this evening on the Woodhouses can’t shake the Castevets despite this being the very thing they had hoped to avoid.

Guy seems more taken with the new friendship than Rosemary is, spending hours in Roman’s company talking about whatever it is they talk about, I forget. Meanwhile, Minnie is a domineering so-and-so who drops in unexpectedly all the fucking time (told you this was a HORROR), sometimes dragging her mate, Laura Louise (Patsy Kelly) with her. Minnie also gives Rosemary the exact same ‘Good Luck’ pendant that Terry wore. Oooooh!

Rosemary quickly begins to back away from her neighbours and is a little baffled by the fact Guy doesn’t feel the same. However, they don’t really have the time to discuss it as they decide to start trying for a baby. From here Guy takes control of Rosemary’s menstrual cycle and maps the prime days for baby making, keeps track of her period and basically treats her like a prize cow.

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This is the exact point I would have left

One night early into Project Baby, Rosemary passes out after dinner (moral of story: if your neighbour drops off chocolate mousse and it tastes chalky, don’t eat it, even if your husband bullies you into it). While out cold, Ro has some disturbing dreams (that are pretty much exactly the same as the ones I have most nights but with more nudity) and when she wakes up, she’s covered in scratches. Guy admits that he hadn’t wanted to miss ‘Baby Night’ so had gone right ahead without her. Presumably while Blurred Lines played softly in the background.

(I’m sorry but that’s just horrific, right there. Fuck you, Guy. FUCK YOU.)

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“Do you like my new hair?… Darling?”

This review is going to go on forever if I don’t break it down for you (the movie is over 2 hours long), but the result of Baby Night is that Rosemary falls preggo. To celebrate she visits Vidal Sassoon and has a pixie cut. Guy is very rude about her new look and one can only assume it’s because she’s asserted some independence, a big no-no in this marriage apparently.

Alarm bells are ringing even before we get a whiff of Satanism but Ro is so sick in her first stages of pregnancy that she is naturally compliant. This makes it easy for the Castevets to railroad her into seeing their doctor and drinking the herbal goodies Minnie rustles up on his recommendation.

One afternoon, Hutch pops round and is shocked to the core at how rubbish Rosemary looks (she does look bad, having lost heaps of weight from her already gazelle-like frame). By chance Hutch meets Roman Castevets and senses something fishy. He arranges to meet Rosemary in the city a day later to tell her something.

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“What? Just basking in my pregnancy glow…”

Hutch never makes it though as he falls into a sudden coma (from which he never wakens, dying shortly afterwards). Ro is devastated of course, while Guy doesn’t seem all that bothered.

Just as Rosemary is about to get a second opinion on all the pain she’s been suffering so far in her pregnancy (as advised by her female friends who tell her it is definitely not normal), the pain shifts and she starts to glow. Up to that point she’d started to throw away Minnie’s secret pregnancy milkshakes believing them to be poisoned.

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“You should read The Secret, it really worked for me…”

Let’s cut to the chase here and say at Hutch’s funeral, one of Hutch’s friends passes on a book about witchcraft with some clues underlined inside. This is what Hutch had wanted to tell Ro and she gradually works out that Roman is the son of a very evil man witch who’d resided in the building a long time before, and had a high old time doing the Devil’s work.

After this, Rosemary realises that all her paranoia has weight and she’s less pliable. She seeks assistance from a second doctor who lets her down spectacularly (fucker) and ends up being held hostage by her so-called husband and Dr. Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy) for the remainder of her pregnancy, which tragically results in a still birth.

Or does it?

Questions:

I’m parking this up here. But not before I ask a few questions, obvs.

So… what will become of Rosemary and, of course, her wee baby? Will Guy Woodhouse come through for his wife in the end and what’s in this plot for him? Why didn’t Rosemary just tell those horrible Castevets to butt out?

Should I have a pixie cut myself? And finally, is this really just a cautionary tale about letting your neighbours get too close? *Deadlocks the front door and battens down all hatches, whatever those are*.

Rosemary wasn't crazy about the new range of Hallmark cards and their wording
Rosemary wasn’t crazy about the sentiment behind the new range of Hallmark baby cards

My Thoughts:

This is a great film, if excruciatingly long. Polanski knows how to spin a tale and he also knows how to build suspense so I can’t criticise him (for that, anyway). The whole film has an air of discomfort and paranoia builds quickly, despite Rosemary’s picture perfect lifestyle.

It helps I think that Mia Farrow is a living doll, all delicate lines and babydoll dresses, lending her a unique fragility. I just wanted her to be happy really. I also watched this movie and imagined that she got away and lived that happy life devoid of devil babies and annoying elderly companions. Alas.

There’s plenty here to take the piss out of, of course but as a classic, it’s pretty excellent. Maybe it’s not balls out scary but it takes you to a very creepy place and presents Rosemary’s situation as almost normal. For the most part the danger is very subtle and realistic. Too late does she even realise how far she’s fallen into this web of evil, and that the one person she should be able to count on has sold his soul (and their baby) for fame and fortune.

Which is a theme that would fit perfectly today, even more so perhaps in these reality TV obsessed times. I would recommend that this film needs to be seen, it’s an absolute classic up there with some of the greats, including a couple of my favourites, Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Omen (1976).

My Rating: 4.5/5

Does Jillian agree? Swing by and see what she has to say in her own words here.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies (Film) Review

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Another week, another great horror. Or, if not great, then at least great fun. Which, both Jillian and I have agreed is exactly what we needed after a few weeks of pure, unadulterated stress at both our works.

Anyone else having the shittest few weeks of their (working) lives?

Let’s see if our pick this week offers anything more than exactly what it says on the tin.

*Spoilers* 

Cockneys Vs. Zombies (2012)

Director: Matthias Hoene
Stars: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan

IMDB Synopsis: A gang of bank robbers fight their way out of a zombie-infested London.

My Review:

Brothers Terry and Andy are likely lads but with their hearts in the right place. Right now they’re plotting a robbery with the help of an unstable associate called Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas). What on earth could go wrong?

Meanwhile, the East End of London is undergoing a transformation with new builds going up all over the city. During the first stages of building it looks like the developers have uncovered a 17th century burial site, as you do. This may or may not have unleashed the undead into the streets – oopsy.

The same developers FYI are threatening closure on Terry and Andy’s grandpa’s care home which might have something to do with the upcoming robbery… Incidentally, this film would not have been the film it is if it hadn’t starred the sublime Alan Ford (Brick Top of Snatch (2000) to you and I). He makes it completely.

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The gang had arrived at the Annual Mouth Gaping Wide Open Championships – but who would walk away with gold?

So, the brothers move forward with the robbery with a little help (?) from an increasingly erratic Mickey, plus friend Davey Tuppence (Jack Doolan) and cousin Katy. Things go appallingly of course when the gang end up with more than they bargained for, both fiscally and literally. The robbery brings in 2 million but they gain two hostages along the way.

Lucky for them the surrounding police officers have bigger fish to fry what with the undead devouring them all, so they get away pretty easily. I don’t really get why they take hostages at this point but they do, in the form of Emma (Georgia King) and Clive (Tony Gardner).

One by one we lose members of the squad in creative and witty ways. There’s not much I can really say about this, just that it follows a typical zompocalypse format but funnier. Things kick off when Terry and Andy head for the care home, where Brick Top and friends have been doing a decent job of fighting off zombies until now. These aren’t just any old folk after all, but cockney old folk and therefore HENCH.

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“Ask me if I’ve got my daysaver one more time…”

Our heroes stop by Mental Mickey’s lock up on the way to Brick Top’s which happens to be packed full of every sort of ammunition. It’s Willy Wonka’s factory but with grenades and bullets. They also hot wire a double decker bus to accommodate the oldies.

(This is by far my favourite bit).

To the Questions section: Will the boys make it to their grandpa’s in time? Will Brick Top’s glamorous friend Peggy (Honor Blackman/Pussy Galore) give him reason to keep living? What will become of the boys, the money and the remaining members of our gang?

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“You’ve all got red on you!”

My Thoughts:

Look, there’s not much to say. This film is amusing and it doesn’t require any brainpower. It has a wonderfully old skool English cast and it has Brick Top in an action hero role. I’m in, all the way.

All I could think throughout this Zom Com (not sure this can be classed as a Rom Zom Com given the refreshing lack of romance), was: it’s no Shaun of the Dead (2004) – but then what is? It does the best it can with what it has.

Plus the cast, particularly Katy and Brick Top, look like they’re really enjoying handling all those big weapons.

My Rating: 4/5

Did Jillian enjoy herself? Check out The Pink Panther Snipes Again to find out for yourselves!

Antisocial (Film) Review

“This’ll teach you to unfollow me…”

We all spend too much time navel gazing with our phones in our palms, hooked up to social media, failing to maintain human relationships… blah de blah blah. That’s the message in this week’s movie choice, anyway.

This week was my pick. I’d read people’s tweets about this Canadian horror film and thought it sounded good, despite the below average ratings on both Netflix and IMDB. Sometimes you find some right bangers by ignoring the naysayers and going with your gut.

Was I right to go with the stomach? Well read on, my friends! Read on.

As per: *Beware them pesky spoilers!*

Antisocial (2013)

Director: Cody Calahan
Stars: Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie

IMDB Synopsis: Five university friends gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world.

My Review: 

antisocial_ver2_xlgThe films starts with two fashion bloggers recording a vlog into the camera. As the opening credits roll, a bloody scene plays out before us, as one of the girls appears crazed and attacks the other. It’s a fight to the death as the victim fends her off. What’s going on there then, eh?

(I, for one, would totally accept this as an alternative to all the perfection of the top vloggers, call me ungracious).

We then move on to Sam who’s at uni and has just broken up with her horrible boyfriend. Sadly, he’s more into doing his own thing than speaking to Sam about whatever it is she clearly has on her mind and the two go their separate ways via video chat. Within seconds, he’s updated himself to ‘Single’ on social media site, the Social Redroom, the little shit.

Sam hastily removes herself from the Redroom to avoid the usual online bullshit and wanders about looking sad for a bit. In a lecture, people clearly have way too much time on their hands, as they’re gossiping and laughing about the break up behind her back. Sam agrees reluctantly to go to a NYE pre-party at her friend Mark’s house to take her mind off things.

Meanwhile, something odd is happening on campus…

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“I can’t believe I’m still getting Farmville requests…”

Sam’s a bit of a cold fish when she gets to Mark’s but the crowd gathered there do their best to welcome her. Things are going swimmingly until Jed (who isn’t on the Social Redroom, key point for later) stumbles across a news item about a violent attack at their campus. They don’t really think too much about it until later in the evening, when a random breaks in and is accidentally killed by Steve (Romaine Waite).

Well, that’s what you get when you burst in on sexy time, Random Stranger. Unfortunately, Steve is rather distressed to have caused a murder and tries to ring the po-po to own up. 911, however, is playing a recorded message due to being overwhelmed by calls, so the gang can’t report the accident. 

This also alerts them to the fact that shit be cray out there, so they turn on the TV and their laptops and phones, and gather more intel on a new disease taking hold of everyone around them, not just locally either. Things are getting serious, yo.

Sexy times in horror movies = always something awful round the corner
Sexy times in horror movies = always something awful round the corner

Once they’ve grasped the full gravity of their situation, the group seal themselves into the apartment (pretty sure they forgot the upstairs window the first intruder tried to get through though, just sayin’). They have to be strict about keeping infected people out so when their close friend Chad comes calling, bleeding and disorientated, they have to leave him outside to fend for himself.

Fair enough though. The group are torn on this decision but believe as long as they can wait it out together free of infection, they’ll be fine. God bless them. No sooner do they come to this conclusion, weird shit begins to happen. First off, are the hallucinations. Tentacles appear from mobile handsets, down people’s throats, in their eye sockets, all curiously around the same time as being online, specifically logged into the Social Redroom. Hmm.

Then come the nosebleeds which mark the beginning of the end. Finally, the uncontrollable and ultra-violent rage, egged on by mysterious figures and whispered voices. One by one our friends succumb to the symptoms and it ain’t pretty.

While this is all kicking off, Jed maintains contact with his friend Brian (Eitan Shalmon), who’s trapped on campus and therefore reporting things as he sees them in the ‘outside world’. It seems he’s having an even worse time than our Party of Five.

You see? This is why I never make plans on New Year’s Eve.

Red is very much in this Autumn...
Red is very much in this Autumn…

Jed is our gateway to all info as he follows the story, showing our friends everything he can find about it online. Including the surviving fashion vlogger who is amazingly still logged in and asking for help. The friends message her and she explains more about the story but is in a bad way, infected like her friend has been. Eventually I think her head explodes.

Our friends lose their shit bit by bit and don’t come off well, as the infected are killed off. Even more curiously, the survivors learn that after death, the deceased can still post to the Redroom, straight from their deceased brains.

Jed finds a video made by one of the Social Redroom execs, who confesses that they’d deliberately planted a virus into the program to pull people further into it, making them want to post more pictures, write passive aggressive status updates (probably) and annoy each other with games requests (to paraphrase).

He apologises deeply for the infection which was all their fault and then he guides those who haven’t shown symptons to a link that could possible save their lives. Meanwhile, the founder of the Redroom (poor man’s Zuckerberg) has been assassinated by a crazed individual.

The link shows how to remove the tumours causing the infection from the brain, by drilling into the frontal lobe and pulling it out (tentacles!). Sadly, by this point Sam has been pulled back into the Redroom by Mark (who she now professes to love) and has the tumour too.

I’m going to stop here because I’ve gone on way too long and you can see what happens at the end for yourself.

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Altogether now… “You’ve got red on you…”

But of course, before I wrap up, to the Questions: Who will survive? What is Sam’s big secret? Will she and Mark live happily ever after? What will become of both Jed and Brian?

Is being permanently logged in such a bad thing? And, finally, have you even got to the end of this review without picking up your phone to check Facebook?

*Checks Facebook*

My Thoughts:

Much like Starry Eyes, this film was trying to make a point and I appreciate that. I like a horror film that attempts an original take on something we have seen a lot of before. I mean, the infected and the living dead are tales as old as time but the social media angle is still topical, still relevant and therefore, still interesting. To me anyway, being a massive social media WHOREBAG.

“I didn’t even want to come to this fucking party…”

The performances are good. I liked Jed (a Canadian Nick Grimshaw) and Sam isn’t simpering as the lone surviving female (oops, spoiler). She does get to wear a white tee too, the lone surviving female uniform (see Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn (2003)) when she goes out to kick infected butt, so you know she’s serious.

NB: I’ve just learned coincidentally, and just now so I promise it hasn’t influenced this review at all, that Michelle Mylett is the bestie of one of my close friends. How cool is that? 

All in all, I enjoyed myself. Could of done with more horror moments (I wasn’t scared) and I like my horrors on the jumpier side if possible. But I liked it.

Does it make you think about your own overuse of social media though? I suppose so, Facebook does sometimes feel like a mild disease I wish I could cure. Then I realise that it’s probably half the people I still follow, who shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard that I could do without (those damn Minion memes, man).

Will I ever quit (aka cut out the tumour?). Probably not.

My Rating: 3/5

What did Jillian think of this one? Let’s go see for ourselves, shall we?