Texas Chainsaw 3D – 4.5/10

Brainless and forgettable, but familiar like a warm blanket…

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This is one of those horror films that is firmly marketed at teenage boys. You don’t see that many of them at the moment but it is a genre staple that will never truly die out. I must admit I have a weakness for this kind of shit.
Most of the cliché horror characters are here of course, the slutty girl, the tough black guy, the plucky heroine, the handsome stranger, the strange country bums who aren’t what they seem etc. There is very little originality on show. Indeed, at one point there is a funfair set piece that we have seen many times before (Zombieland, one of the Final Destination movies).
As with all horror films the survivors get over the terrible and gruesome deaths of their friends almost immediately and the police will send one man on his own to the scene of said murders. It is all very predictable but it is pretty fun, there are some great deaths along the way and that is all you can ask from this brand of nonsense really.
If you are the kind of person who gets annoyed by plot holes and unrealistic moments in movies however, stay well clear of this because essentially Texas Chainsaw is terrible film making. It made back over three times its ten million dollar budget though so what the fuck do I know? Oh also it has the most ridiculous end to a film (and also one of the worst lines, I actually grimaced upon hearing it) I have ever seen.

The Purge – 6/10

Slightly above average horror/thriller/action can’t decide on it’s genre or message.

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Set in 2022, The Purge is a morality tale (although it can’t decide what its moral is) where America has become a place of wealth and prosperity due to the annual ‘purge’ – One night every year all crime (including murder) becomes legal to enable the public to have a ‘release’. The Purge focuses on one family The Sandins.
The performances are average at best. Lena ‘Cersei Lannister’ Headey tries her hardest to shed the image of her more famous role but all the black hair dye in the world can’t hide the familiar Lannister smirk. Ethan Hawke plays the patriarch of the family and as always he is painfully dull, spending the entire movie looking somewhat bewildered and surprised. His face is in a constant battle with itself as to whether it will morph in to Matt Dillon or Kevin Bacon and while Hawke can’t change his daft face, it is distracting.
The film itself, whilst harbouring a truly original idea, is not executed that well. Some of the more tiresome horror clichés rear their grotesque head (woman opens fridge door, closes it, person is standing there – characters ridiculously and needlessly splitting up). There were also a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments, namely Ethan Hawke choosing the most outrageously unfit for purpose gun of all time to protect his family seemingly just because it looks cool.

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The Purge is pretty entertaining, and on a plus point Rhys Wakefield does a good job as the psychopathic stranger. He aims for something in between Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman and for a while he pulls it off, before fading in the last half an hour. I was never bored, but never captivated either.

V/H/S 7/10.

V/H/S proves horror isn’t obsolete.

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For a man who hates found footage horror with a passion I watch an awful lot of them. This is because modern, English speaking horror is in such a rut right now, comprising almost entirely of remakes, sequels, reboots or just rehashing old ideas that even though Paranormal Activity came out in 2007 (Blair Witch Project in 1999!), we are still getting the same tired ideas a hundred times. However, the found footage style, like 3D, doesn’t have to be a replacement for actual ideas, sometimes it can enhance, even make the movie. V/H/S just about falls into this category.
There isn’t really a plot as such. Some criminals, one sporting a great moustache, break into a dead guys house to find a videotape. When presented with many videotapes they start watching them all in the guys house obviously. We, the audience, are watching the films as well and this is what the movie is. This means it is broken down into different stories and segments (all directed by different people) which is a concept that other horror directors need to look into as they all find it so hard to keep a movie interesting for 90 minutes.
Nearly every segment is just ‘stuff happens, builds into WTF ending’ but I think that formulae works well in the right hands. If you leave a horror film (scared obviously but also…) thinking to yourself ‘what the fuck have I just seen?’ then it has done its job.
There is a lot of rubbish in mainstream horror at the moment but V/H/S shows that some people are at least trying to move things forward.

From Beyond – 6.5/10

A Lovecraft short story given the 80’s treatment.

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 Ahhh 80’s horror. Incomprehensible plot obviously, something about two ‘mad’ scientists opening the door to some parallel universe. Lots of hilarious creatures flood out. The only female character starts out as a doctor, ends up wearing suspenders and stockings obviously. Amidst the laughable effects and corny dialogue there is actually some pretty intense and horrifying violence and it is a nice easy watch at less then ninety minutes. If you can still watch and enjoy stuff like Hellraiser and Re-Animator then this is well worth a look.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy – 10/10

An exhaustive look at the Nightmare on Elm Street series featuring interviews with the actors, production team and studio big wigs.

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Clocking in at four hours, Never Sleep Again features a comprehensive break down of each entry in the franchise from the seminal original, right through to Freddy vs Jason. If you are a big fan of the series, this is essential viewing, as it contains fascinating and passionate insights from everyone involved in the films.

Never Sleep Again is like two documentary’s for the price of one in many ways, as running parallel to the story of the Nightmare films is the tale of New Line Cinema – The film studio that went from a tiny production company to the behemoth behind the release of the Lord of the Rings films.

This documentary is one of those films that will only appeal to big fans but if you grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street then you will find yourself captivated. I absolutely loved it.

REC – 9/10.

Finally got round to watching this, the Spanish original, after lazily watching the American remake (Quarantine) first.

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.A TV crew following a local fire service into a tower block encounter a killer virus.
What a brilliant modern horror film REC is.
I can’t remember seeing a more realistic cast reaction to what unfolds in any other film. It really does feel real for the most part. The acting is very authentic, it looks great and it is horrifyingly frightening. If you are looking for a scary movie to watch on Halloween you can’t go wrong with REC.
Once again foreign speaking horror trumps what Hollywood is putting out in terms of scares, acting and sheer imagination, and REC is without doubt a film that will stay with you and haunt your nightmares.
REC deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and Grave Encounters when it comes to found footage horror.