ComedyDramaFilmReviews

Under the Tree (2017, Iceland)

Under the Tree (Undir trénu) (2017)

There’s an old saying about how you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. You also can’t generally choose your neighbors, and sometimes they can be even harder to avoid than family. It can be a real risk to try to befriend a neighbor, because if it all goes wrong somehow your only option is to pack up and move, and that’s a hassle nobody wants. Still, in Under the Tree, both sets of neighbors would have been much better off if they’d fled to opposite sides of the country. Admittedly Iceland isn’t a very big country, but that might have worked.

“Two families. One tree. A bloody mess.”

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I Kill Giants (2017, Belgium / UK / USA)

I Kill Giants (2017, Belgium / UK / USA)

Created by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants was first launched as a limited comic book series from Image Comics in 2008, and compiled into a graphic novel in 2009. Now a full-length feature film from director Anders Walter, I Kill Giants tells the story of pubescent girl Barbara Thorson who spends much of her time focused on the task of luring, trapping and killing the giants that she believes threaten her small coastal town. I Kill Giants does offer a family, fantasy adventure that is brave enough to deal with some distinctly adult themes.

“I find giants, I hunt giants. I kill giants.”

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The Vault (2017, USA)

The Vault (2017)

Writer/director Dan Bush says of his film, The Vault, that his vision was to make a movie where ‘Heist meets horror’. He couches this ambition in a story dealing with sibling loyalty and conflict.

When Michael Dillon gets into trouble with a vicious gangster, he has to come up with a great deal of money very quickly in order to save his life. His two estranged sisters, Leah an ex-con, and Vee who has spent time in the military, come up with a plan to recruit some heavies who will help them rob a nearby bank.

“No one is safe.”

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Ring (1998, Japan)

Ring (1998)

Adapted from Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name, Ringu リング is a cultural phenomena. Directed by Hideo Nakata, Ring launched a revival of horror filmmaking in Japan, and influenced American horror cinema at the turn of the 21st century. From the moment the Toho vanity card ends, Ringu gets under your skin. Forgoing the science behind the videotape in Koji Suzuki’s original novel, Hideo Nakata and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi instead re-imagine Ringu as a curse.

“So that video is… It’s not of this world. It’s Sadako’s fury. And she’s put a curse on us.”

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Nightmare City (1980, Italy / Spain / Mexico)

Nightmare City (1980)

Umberto Lenzi had quite a career during his time as a film maker. Lenzi started law school, then decided his true passion lay with movies and attended the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. His resume’ included peplum, westerns, giallos and mysteries, all typical of Italian cinema of the time. He later retired from cinema and wrote a series of detective novels. Then in 1972 Lenzi made what many consider the first true, cannibal film, Man from the Deep River. The work contained many of the attributes of future cannibal movies; violence, sex, the consumption of raw, human flesh… The movie established Lenzi as a director of turgid, offensive films.

“The nightmare becomes reality.”

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Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980, Japan)

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980)

I heard of this anime film years ago but heard such bad things it put me off, then last week I found a good review on it that mentioned the plot and I thought I’d give it a go. Firstly like many other reviewers I must admit this is probably the craziest Dracula plot ever. It’s based of Tomb of Dracula issues 40-75 and as such there’s a lot going on…

Overall this film is very true to the comic and has a good storyline but it’s too rushed. The visuals in part are faithful to the comic but frequently seem low budget. If you liked Tomb of Dracula I’d definitely recommend this. If you’re looking for a different Dracula film you should enjoy it.

“Darling, I want to tell you about the man I used to be before I became the cursed slave of Satan.”

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Beast of Blood (1970, Philippines / USA)

Beast of Blood (1970)

Those unfamiliar with the works of Eddie Romero should make it a priority to search out a few of his titles. Romero is the John Ford, Frank Capra and Wes Craven of Philippine cinema all rolled into one, having directed war films along with dramas, comedies and horror movies. The film industry of the Philippines is a remarkable story in itself, a business that is now well over a hundred years old. In the late sixties and early seventies Romero put a series of films together known as “The Blood Island Trilogy” which were low-budget shockers containing sex, blood and monsters.

“See human heads transplanted!”

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Super Dark Times (2017, USA)

Super Dark Times (2017)

Sometimes in film, a mood or feeling transcends the writing, itself. Kevin Philips’ debut feature, Super Dark Times is one of those films. The overall moodiness and aura of this teenage drama/horror film creates a skin-crawling dread that stuck with me long after viewing it. Super Dark Times is a teenage drama film that feels closer to horror at many points, and because of this, may scare off some fans of either genre. It is also extremely well-crafted and wonderfully moody, which is why it is a film that should definitely not be overlooked.

“If anybody asks, we’re already fucked.”

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Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997, Germany) Shock-O-Rama DVD Review

Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)

With Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead, Olaf Ittenbach has managed to create a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously; instead opting to bring humour to the violence portrayed onscreen. It is grosser, nastier, gorier than most splatter films, and likely done on a much smaller budget too. If you enjoy video violence exaggerated to the extreme, and your humour as black as the night sky, look no further than this fallen angel.

“For centuries, the secret of an ancient legend was kept hidden. It contained the legacy of the mystery of life and death. It was the book about the resurrection of the anti-god Premutos.”

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Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979, Japan)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter is considered one of the best films in the Japanese sub-genre of roman-pinku films. The term roughly translates to romantic-sexploitation, as opposed to the pinku eiga films which focused on sex frequently combined with violence.

The film was made by one of the bigger studios in Japan, and it shows in the production values and acting. However, the term “romantic” is used in a far different manner than Western audiences will recognize.

“I’m getting rid of you. You’re in the way.”

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Dard Divorce (2007, Germany)

Dard Divorce (2007)

Olaf Ittenbach is a German auteur who is a combination of Tom Savini and Takashi Miike. Originally a dental technician, Ittenbach then became a top notch SFX artist, his most notable credit being for BloodRayne by Uwe Boll.

Along with Boll, he is part of the German new wave bringing media attention to their underground films specializing in rape, necrophilia and extreme violence. Ittenbach’s films focus on pain, body destruction and gore, preferably as much that can be jammed into a two hour film.

“Breaking up is so very hard to do…”

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The King (2017, South Korea)

The King (2017)

If you profess a love of cinema, but have been eschewing the excellent films coming out of Korea, you really have been missing out on some top-notch entertainment. I went into Han Jae-Rim’s movie The King, knowing only that it had been described as a political thriller. That covers about half of it – it’s also a satire about corruption within Korea’s legal system, it’s a gangster movie, it’s a revenge tale and yes, it’s a crime thriller too. If Wes Anderson decided to make ‘Goodfellas’ with Ben Wheatley, The King might just be the movie they’d have aspired to. Imagine that.

“Only one will become… The King.”

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