Thursday, 29 November 2012

Teenie Weenie Bikini Squad (4¼ Stars)

A series of accidents have been occurring at the Playpen Club, shortly before the Playmate of the Century is due to be announced. Since he suspects that the accidents might be deliberate attempts to disrupt the event and as a result bring his tottering empire crashing down, Playpen's founder and owner, Tony Tefler, hires the Teenie Weenie Bikini Squad to investigate.

This Fred Olen Ray film is an obvious Charlie's Angels spoof, but also refers heavily to Playboy and Hugh Hefner. Tony Tefler, known to his friends as Tef, is an old man who acts cool and dates his Centerfolds of the Month. Think of him as a serial monogamist, changing his girlfriend each month. The questions asked about Playpen are also valid for Playboy: can print magazines survive when there's Internet porn? Can softcore films survive when today's films are explicit? The latter question is ironic, considering that Fred Olen Ray's films are never truly explicit.

Despite the generally wooden acting, this is an enjoyable film. Even Evan Stone doesn't live up to his normal quality, the only good actor is Ted Newsom as Tef. It's difficult to rate; better than a four, not quite a five. Judging it by the standards of soft porn films, it's a very good film. Pretty girls, lots of nudity, and even a story. If you've never watched any of Fred Olen Ray's film's this is a good place to start.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Already Dead (2 Stars)

If you had the chance to take the law into your own hands, how far would you go?

This is curious. I saw this DVD on my shelf. I can't remember when I bought it, or even why I bought it. Judging by the product description it didn't look like a film I would like. But I watched it anyway.

Tom Archer is a happily married man with a young son. One day he comes home late after going to a business celebration with his wife. When he comes home he finds both the babysitter and his son dead. They want to call the police, but the burglar is still in the house. He knocks Tom unconscious and rapes his wife.

The police can't help. Nothing to go on. No clues who the suspect might be, so after three months the case is dropped. Tom goes into grief counselling. After three months of weekly sessions he's still in the same state. So his psychiatrist gives the remarkable advice, "The only way for you to get over your problems is to get revenge. I have some friends who can deliver the killer to you for $500,000".

So it happens. Tom is led to an abandoned factory where the killer is tied to a chair in the centre of the room. He is given everything he needs to get revenge and is left alone. He has hammers, nails, pliers, a drill, a chainsaw, and even a gun in case he wants to end it quick. But suddenly it doesn't seem so simple. Could you, dear reader, kill a man in cold blood, even if you are sure he deserves it?

The film is a cross between a psychological thriller and an action film. The gore is limited, but horrifying. I admit that the plot itself is fascinating. It's something any parent could identify with. My criticism is that the film wasn't fast enough. Too many slow phases. It couldn't hold my interest. Or maybe it just isn't my sort of film.

Click here to view the trailer.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Avengers XXX (4½ Stars)

Axel Braun is a genius. There's no other way to describe him. Open-minded film fans have probably noticed the recent flood of so-called porn parodies onto the market. It's a popular trend. But not all the films are of the same quality. Those directed by Axel Braun are a level above everything else. Check the movie poster above. Unlike in Joss Whedon's official Avengers film Hawkeye's costume is correct. The attention to detail is first rate throughout the cast. Just look at the Scarlet Witch's costume. Perfect! The only problem is that this film also has Nick Fury's skin colour wrong.

The film starts out with the aftermath of a battle between the Hulk and the Abomination in Las Vegas. Nick Fury calls the Avengers together to plan the Hulk's capture. The party is gatecrashed by Spider-Man, who wants to join the Avengers but isn't accepted. During the following tense hours they argue with one another and have sex.

Axel certainly knows his comics. Captain America isn't the first Avenger, he's presented as the last Avenger in the film. He doesn't appear until the final scene. Once more there is great acting from Eric Masterson as Hawkeye. He's a man to watch.

Click here to view the trailer.
One thing that I hate is having to be on the defensive when I talk about Axel Braun's films. When I talk about him people reply "But I thought you liked real films". Like they have no value in themselves. On the one hand, this is intellectual snobbery. Porn films are thought of as bad just because they are porn. That's all. On the other hand, I do understand the embarrassment factor. After a family meal we can sit and watch "Silence of the Lambs". But putting on a porn film, even a good porn film, would create an awkward situation. I couldn't sit on the sofa watching humping bodies on screen with my parents or children. My mother even used to make comments when there were brief nude scenes in mainstream films on television. "Why do they have to show that?" For her it was the height of bad taste for Kate Winslet to bare her breasts in "Titanic". Pornography is a guilty pleasure in our society. It's thought of as something men watch when they're alone in order to "get off". It's true, I've seen primitive porn videos that are at that level. To me they were disgusting, no artistic content whatsoever. It will take a long time for this stigma to be shaken off.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Busty Housewives of Beverly Hills (4 Stars)

Doug lives in Cleveland with his wife Kate, where he works as a psychic and hypnotist. He's not very good at either, though his wife humours him. Then they inherit a house in Beverly Hills from his aunt. At first they're happy when they move in, but they soon realise that since they only inherited a house, not money, their financial problems aren't over yet. Their neighbours are a film producer and the owner of an oil company. They try to blend in, but when the neighbours see posters of Doug performing his act they ridicule him. But then a mysterious stranger hands Doug a mystical pendant and promises him immediate success as a hypnotist.

The film reunites the regular stars of Fred Olen Ray's films: Ted Newsom, Tony Marino and Evan Stone. But the actor who really amazed me is Eric Masterson, who plays the role of Doug. His performance made me sit up and take notice. He's the best new actor I've seen in a long time. All the other actors, both male and female, seem like amateurs next to him. So I checked him out on IMDB, and he's hardly a newcomer. He's appeared in 449 films since 1998. Most of them seen to be hard porn films, but in my opinion he's wasting his talent. On the basis of this film I'd say he can make a big career in mainstream films. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he seems to be one of the best actors alive today. I'll have to check some of his other films. He fascinates me.

In case you're wondering what "Hypno Vista" is, it's subliminal messages flashed onto the screen during the film. They only appear for one frame, so you're aware there's a message but you can only read it if you play the film in slow motion. I did this in a few sections of the film, and the messages were remarkable only for their dullness. A typical message during a sex scene is "Keep staring at my boobs". As if I weren't doing that anyway! Shouldn't the message be something like "Send Fred Olen Ray all your money"?

Overall it's a very enjoyable film. Mostly due to Eric Masterson, but the plot is also intriguing, and the other male actors perform adequately. Apart from Tony Marino, who manages to look bored every time he appears in a sex scene. The women who star in the film are all poor actresses, without exception, but they make up for it with good looks. I'll still rate the film highly, and I recommend it to my readers.

Lady Chatterley's Ghost (4 Stars)

Vera Montez is one of America's biggest actresses in the days of silent movies. Then talkies come, and nobody wants her any more. Her voice isn't good enough. Luckily she's saved enough to live a life of luxury after her forced retirement. For the next 50 years she dedicates herself to the study of the occult. Finally she dies, forgotten and unknown by our cruel world.

Flash forward to the present. Charles and Sandra are a wealthy married couple. Charles is a successful businessman, and they live together in a large house. They have everything they need. Except for love. Sandra is having an affair with the gardener, while Charles has various lovers. Charles has recently bought Sandra an old copy of "Lady Chatterley's Lover", and she becomes obsessed with the book.

Then Charles takes the bold step of hiring one of his lovers as the new maid. But he gets more than he bargained for. The maid is the ghost of Vera Montez, who has taken on flesh once more because she has been attracted by the book that once belonged to her. But what are her intentions? Does she want to help her new employers or destroy them?

This is an enjoyable film, directed by the master of soft porn himself, Fred Olen Ray. It might not be to everyone's taste, but I like it a lot. It seems that his plots are becoming more complicated over the last couple of years. I'll be reviewing a few more of Fred's films in the next few days.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Baby Dolls Behind Bars (3½ Stars)

Maggie Grey, a highly successful cat burglar, is finally arrested when she is caught attempting to steal a statue of the Goddess Phucket. A year later crimes are still taking place for which Maggie is the only suspect, but she has the perfect alibi: she's in prison. Police woman Sissy Dunlop is sent to the same prison, masquerading as an incarcerated jewel thief.

Don't be confused by the film's title. The story has nothing in common with the women-in-prison exploitation films of the 1970's. The film is directed by Fred Olen Ray, and as such it's a light-hearted soft porn. Apart from Sissy and Maggie we never see any of the other inmates. The true star of the film is Christine Nguyen, who plays the prison warden, Matron Grell. Something about her fascinates me. In every film she appears in she is bubbly and happy in a way that makes me smile. Also noteworthy is Dale Dabone as the judge.

Theodore Rex (4 Stars)

In the near future dinosaurs have been brought back to life, recreating them by using their DNA. Just like in "Jurassic Park". But that's where the similarity between the two films ends. In "Theodore Rex" dinosaurs have been integrated into society. This film is named after the title character, nicknamed Teddy, who is the first dinosaur to become a police detective. Together with his partner Kitty Coltrane, played by Whoopi Goldberg, he investigates a series of murders that lead to a plot by a fiendish mastermind who wants to create a new ice age and destroy the world so that he can recreate it in his own image.

This film has the dubious honour of being the most expensive direct to video film ever made, having cost a total of $42 million. From the beginning it had problems. Whoopi Goldberg signed up for the film when she was still a relatively unknown actress. After the success of "Sister Act" she decided she didn't want to make the film any more. With the possibilty of being sued for breach of contract hanging over her head an out-of-court settlement was made: she received an additional payment of $7 million and it was agreed that the film wouldn't be shown in cinemas until after "Sister Act 2". Evidently the film studio thought Whoopi was necessary to make the film a big hit. So the film was made in 1993. The studios held it back a year. And another year. Eventually they just didn't know what to do with it. It had originally been pitched as a children's film (sort of "Lethal Weapon meets Barney"), but the finished product was obviously not suitable for children. So the studios gave up, cut their losses and released it directly to video.

In my opinion it's not actually a bad film. Armin Mueller-Stahl is excellent as the evil mastermind, Elizar Kane. Juliet Landau is stunning as his beautiful but evil assistant. Richard Roundtree is another good actor in the cast. And I have to say that Whoopi looks sexy in black leather. I don't understand why the film is ridiculed by critics and fans alike. It's a warped film for people with a warped sense of humour. Watch it and make up your own mind.

Click here to view the trailer.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Music Video: Knorkator, Buchstabe

I didn't intend to post any more music videos, but this song by Knorkator is too good for me to resist. I've added an English translation for those unfortunate enough not to understand German.

I have a PhD,
I studied 13 years in Berkeley and Heidelberg.
Now my life's work is complete,
No more waiting,
Rejoice, you can have it!
I'm giving the German alphabet the 31st letter.

It's the Ψ

I reject all linguistic arguments,
And whoever pays me a license fee can use it.
It's suitable for many words:
Potato, Postman, Sherbet, Nipple, Bread.

It's the Ψ

It will take over the world
From Braunschweig to Britain.
Shout it from the rooftops and rejoice.

It's the Ψ

Okay, okay... here's the original German text for those who want to compare. And yes, I know that the translation of the last verse is inaccurate.

Ich bin Doktor der Philologie,
Ich habe 13 Jahre geforscht
In Berkeley und in Heidelberg.
Nun ist es fertig mein Lebenswerk,
Das große Warten hat ein Ende.
Frohlocket, ihr könnt es haben,
Ich schenke dem deutschen Alphabet
Den 31. Buchstaben.

Es ist das Ψ

Die linguistischen Bedenken
Kann ich getrost vom Schreibtisch putzen,
Und wer an mich Gebühren bezahlt,
Kann es ganz nach Gefühl benutzen.
Es eignet sich für viele Worte:
Ψatkartoffel, Ψiefträger,
Ψausepulver, Ψustwarze
Oder Ψotschneidemaschine.

Es ist das Ψ

Es Ψicht herein in allen Ψanchen,
In Ψaunschweig und GroßΨitanien,
Ψüllt es nun von allen Ψücken,
Wälzt euch in Ψachialem Entzücken.

Es ist das Ψ

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fragments (4 Stars)

This film is based on the novel "Winged Creatures", written by Roy Freirich. If anything, it is a treatise on chaos theory. A random event happens. A madman enters a diner, shoots guests at random, then kills himself. The film then follows the effects this event has on five of the survivors and their relationships to their families.

Bruce Laraby, a surgeon, loses his operating skills. He begins to experiment with an untested migraine medicine on his wife.

Carla, a waitress, loses her affection for her son.

Anne, a teenage girl, becomes deeply religious, alienating her non-religious mother.

Jimmy, a school friend of Anne's, loses his ability to speak. This causes arguments in his family.

Charlie abandons his daughter and lives in a hotel, spending his days gambling.

The randomness of the film might make it difficult for many people to enjoy. But this is what real life is all about. Things happen which have consequences. If a stone falls in the water the waves ripple long distances and have no connection to one another, apart from the initial stone.

The novel is not completely original. It copies ideas from the Japanese film "Eureka", made in 2000, which deals with the effect that a killing spree on a bus has on the surviving passengers. In "Eureka" Naoki becomes mute and only communicates with his sister Kozue, just as Jimmy only communicates with Anne via the Internet in "Fragments". I can only rate "Fragments" by comparing it with "Eureka", and "Eureka" is the better film.

Click here to view the trailer.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Jack and the Beanstalk (3½ Stars)

This is the 2010 version of the film. According to IMDB this fairy tale has been filmed 15 times since 1902, though the first few films were short films, not full length features. In the early days of films it was rare for a film to last more than 20 minutes.

This is a children's film, but although made for children it's a smart film that adults can appreciate. In fact, there are subtleties in the film that young viewers will probably miss. For instance, in the schoolroom scene the teacher has drawn a flux capacitor on the blackboard, the artifice used for time travel in "Back to the Future".

The film has metafilm elements. Jack is a young boy who goes to a school for fairy tale characters. The children have all picked roles that they are learning to adopt. Jack is sitting in class with the Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Prince Charming and others. Jack alone doesn't have a role. He wants to be a hero, but he doesn't know how. Maybe his name should have been a clue?

In a spontaneous act of sacrifice he goes to the pawn shop and exchanges his favorite video game for three beans. And so the adventure begins.....

I have difficulty rating children's films. If I rated this within the parameters of children's films I should rate it higher. But subjectively, for me as a person who is long out of childhood, I found it only moderately entertaining. A good film for the family, but I doubt I'll watch it again.

Click here to view the trailer.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance (3 Stars)

America in the 1880's. Deliverance is a small town on the frontier. It's a peaceful town in which nothing much ever happens, but that is due to change. The railway line is almost complete, and a week from now the first train will arrive in Deliverance, opening the town up to the world. But before that happens the peace is broken. Billy the Kid arrives in town, and he's a vampire. Rayne, who we already know from the first film, arrives in the town to take him on.

Although I like the idea of setting a vampire film in a western environment, the film doesn't really succeed. The action is too slow-paced and couldn't make me jump up from my seat. Natassia Malthe replaces Kristanna Loken in the title role, but despite her beauty she doesn't project enough sex appeal to save the film. Another problem is that the film takes place mostly at night and the picture is too dark to clearly see what's happening. Yes, I know it's a vampire film, but they could have filmed it a bit brighter.

Click here to view the trailer.

Acts of Betrayal (3½ Stars)

Matt McColm is an actor who deserves to be better known. I've admired him ever since I saw him in the title role of the tv series "Nightman". He's had a few small roles in films such as "The Matrix", but most of his performances are anonymous as a stuntman. "Acts of Betrayal" is the only film in which he plays the leading role, so it's a shame that it falls flat. Not because of Matt's acting abilities. He can't be faulted. The problem is that the film is so vapid. It's difficult to put my finger on the problem. It just seems cheap.

Maria Conchita Alonso plays Eva Ramirez, a woman who was the lover of a mafia boss and now wishes to testify against him. For two years she's hidden in witness protection in Frederickville, Arizona. On the day she has to be picked up for the trial a gang of ex-soldiers attack the town to kill her. Together with FBI agent Lance Cooper (Matt McColm) she goes on the run.

Not a bad concept in itself, but the film could have been made better. I wish I could have rated it higher. Let's hope that Matt is given another opportunity to show his talent.

Click here to view the trailer.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (4 Stars)

Have you ever suffered from a severe case of writer's block? That's me with this film. I've been staring at this blank page for over an hour. Let me just make a few comments, and maybe I'll build up momentum as I go along.

This is the first film in the Millennium Trilogy, three books written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson but not published till after his death. The three films were released in Sweden in quick succession, between March and November 2009.

The films have long fascinated me, so when I saw they were on sale cheap on Blu-ray I grabbed them. After watching the first film I'm not disappointed, I liked it a lot, but it's not what I expected. I thought it would be an action film. Not at all. It's a criminal investigation, like a police detective story, except the person investigating is a reporter, not a policeman.

The story: Mikael Blomkvist is a reporter for a magazine called Millennium. He has investigated a billionaire, but he was set up. False information was deliberately fed to him, and now he has been sued for libel and is sentenced to three months in prison. But the sentence will not begin until six months later. Is that usual in Sweden? I couldn't imagine a prison sentence in England being deferred by more than a few days. Usually it begins immediately after conviction.

During these six months he is hired by another industrialist, Henrik Vanger. Forty years ago, in 1966, his 16-year-old niece Harriet had disappeared during a family meeting, and he assumes that one of his family members has killed her. The police has long given up on the case, but Vanger thought Blomkvist might be able to unearth something. And he does. He finds notes in Harriet's diary that point to religiously motivated murders that had been committed between 1949 and 1965.

So where does the girl with the tattoo fit in? Vanger had previously hired a company to check up on Blomkvist, to decide if he was suitable for the job. The company used a computer hacker called Lisbeth Salander to spy on him. After discovering he was being watched Blomkvist asked Salander to help him with the case. She's the one with the tattoo.

A very good film. I wonder if the recent Hollywood remake with Daniel Craig even comes close? Somehow I'm scared to find out.

Click here to view the trailer. If "Van Helsing" has a good trailer, this is a bad trailer. It wrongly gives the impression that this is an action film by just picking out the very few exciting moments.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Music Video: Hanne Sorvaag, Crash and Burn

This is a beautiful song, though I admit that I didn't post the video because of the song itself. The scenery is spectacular. I know that tastes differ, but for me Norway is the only country that I consider to be as beautiful as Scotland. Watch it and see what I mean.

The video features Magnus Carlsen, the world's best chess player. I've been a fan of his for years. I started following his career when he was 13 and considered a child prodigy. He is now 21, and even though he's been rated the world's best player since 2010 he has boycotted the last two world chess championships. Everybody knows he's the best, so he has no reason to prove himself. Actions like this are not untypical in the chess world. The previous #1 rated player, Gary Kasparov, refused to take part in the world championship matches for years, even creating an alternative organisation with its own champion. The world's best female player, Judit Polgar, refuses to take part in the women's world championship because she says that other women play too badly and it's boring to play against them.

Magnus with Liv Tyler

Van Helsing (5 Stars)

I ignored this film for years. The reviews made it sound like the plot is silly. And yes, it is. By all accounts this is a ridiculous film. Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing has been re-invented and put at the centre of a "Best of Universal Horror" extravaganza. We don't just see Dracula, we see Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde and the Wolfman. I was waiting for the Mummy to appear, though it might have stretched things too far to relocate him to Transylvania.

This isn't a horror film. Far from it. It's a fast paced action romp, a James Bond story set in the 19th Century. And that's why I like it. Pure escapism. Who cares that the plot is ridiculous and doesn't make sense? It's fun from beginning to end. Even though Dracula's brides fly around looking more like harpies than vampires.

Hugh Jackman plays the main character, Gabriel (not Abraham) Van Helsing. He doesn't portray the character as accurately as Anthony Hopkins in "Dracula", but he's a better Bond. Kate Beckinsale is the ultimate action goth girl, playing the Transylvanian noblewoman who assists Van Helsing in his battle. I'd love to see her as a Bond girl. Or better still, as Gabrielle Van Helsing.

Click here to view the trailer. This is actually an example of a good film trailer. Trailers should be between 60 and 90 seconds, give an accurate impression of the film, and avoid spoilers. So many film trailers are too long, or give too much away by including scenes from late in the film. Or the trailer gives the wrong impression of the type of film it is. If any of my readers want something to do, browse through my older reviews and find examples of bad film trailers. I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, I know a lot of my regular readers are personal friends who like to give me their comments on my reviews in person. While I appreciate that you read my blog, please leave your comments here in the blog itself. That will encourage others who don't know me personally to also write comments and get a discussion going.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Off-Topic: America goes to the polls

Today Americans will be voting for their next president. Will Barak Obama get a second term? Will Mitt Romney become the new president?

I lived in America for a few years, long enough to compare it with other countries, so I feel qualified to say that the result doesn't really matter. People who have lived in America all their lives are blind to the fact that the present two-party system gives them no choice. There might be slight differences on issues of government control and taxation, but the bottom line is that both parties are right wing parties, one leaning slightly more right than the other. Only slightly.

Did the Americans really think that Obama would take the troops out of Afghanistan four years ago? Obama said he would, and the Americans were foolish enough to believe him. He never intended to do it for one moment. It was just election rhetoric to make himself the world's most powerful man.

America needs a real change. The only way to do this is to create a third political party. And a fourth. Maybe more. To take an example from Germany, there are six parties represented in the current central government:

Christian Democratic Union: 31%
Social Democratic Party: 24%
Free Democratic Party: 15%
Communist Party: 12%
Green Party: 11%
Christian Socialist Union: 7%

I'm not saying that I support any or all of the above parties. All I'm saying is that the Germans have a choice. The Americans don't. So be naive. Go out and cast your ballot today. Whoever wins, the next four years will be the same as the last four. The only hope for America is to start work on a new political party that will be able to make a real difference.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (5 Stars)

Vic and Danny are two ex-convicts who kidnap a rich man's daughter and hold her to ransom for two million pounds ($3.2 million). The opening scenes show how they prepare the kidnap so meticulously that the film could be used as a how-to-kidnap guide. The film turns into a psychological thriller as the three people, Vic, Danny and Alice, are confined in a small place waiting for the payment to be made.

I have to give this film 5 stars, if only for daring to be different. It's not just a low budget film, it's minimalist. The three main characters are the only actors, there aren't even any extras. This must have been a big strain on actors used to roles in "normal" films. The three actors each put in amazing performances. I didn't recognise Eddie Marsan who plays Vic, but after checking IMDB I realised that he's the actor who played Titch in "Pierrepoint". Martin Compston (Danny) is a total unknown to me. I know the actress who plays Alice, of course. Gemma Arterton has starred in "Quantum of Solace", "The boat that rocked" and "Tamara Drewe". But this is her most outstanding performance so far, and it will be difficult to beat. A role like this demanded the maximum, and she didn't fall short.

The script is well written. It has to be to keep the viewer interested. I don't want to reveal too much, but the plot has unexpected twists that will make the viewer jump up and say "Wow! I never saw that one coming!" This is a brilliant film

Click here to view the trailer.

Nude Nuns with Big Guns (4½ Stars)

A lot of fans of "serious films" might pass this by because of the sleazy title. They should think again. The film is a well-crafted gem, a prime example of the quality that independent film makers can achieve. A modern day spaghetti western.

Somewhere in the deep south of the USA, close to the Mexican border, the Catholic Church is making money by making and selling drugs. The nuns are used as unpaid workers. Those who don't comply are beat up or sent to work in a brothel. The main buyer/distributor of the drugs is a man called Carlos, head of a gang called Los Muertos. Sister Sarah has a vision in which God tells her to punish those who have sinned against Him. Driven by her faith, she goes on a killing spree.

If you read other reviews you will see that opinions are divided. Some find the film awful, others call it a classic. I find it difficult to understand how anyone could dislike it. It's a well structured film with a good balance of action and dialog. It's never dull, not for a moment. Neither the sex nor the violence is overly explicit. Clear the prejudices from your mind and check it out.

Click here to view the trailer.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Blubberella (unrated)

After careful consideration, I've decided not to give this film a rating. I didn't realise until after I'd watched it that it's a spoof of "Bloodrayne 3", which I haven't watched yet. Director Uwe Boll, well known for cutting costs without skimping on quality, wanted to make two films for the price of one. He filmed "Bloodrayne 3" and "Blubberella" at the same time, using the same actors and the same sets. Immediately after filming a scene for "Bloodrayne 3" he would call the actors back to make a comedy version of the same scene. This way he could make two films for the price of one. Or as he says in an interview, "If Blubberella makes a 25% loss I'll still make an 80% profit". Smart man.

The film style repeatedly breaks through the third wall. (Or is it the fourth wall? I've heard the two terms used interchangeably). In one scene the resistance leader asks his men if they want to assault a German convoy. They don't want to, so he replies, "We have to, it's in the script". There are frequent anachronisms that jarred on me at first, but I began to appreciate them as the film continued.

The plot in brief: Blubberella is an 800-year-old dhampir, half human and half vampire, living in Germany in 1940. She uses the website to date Jewish boys, but Hitler's policy of deporting Jews is making it difficult to find a boyfriend. She joins the resistance to put a stop to it, with the final goal of persuading Hitler to return to a simple life as a painter. Things don't go as easily as planned. When she finds a trainload of Jews the deputy leader of the resistance group, a gay man called Vadge, refuses to free them because of their bad fashion sense. Tasteless, but nevertheless funny. The humour even continues into the final credits:

"Extra special thanks to Adolf Hitler for making so many great movies possible."

I'll rewatch this film after I've seen "Bloodrayne 3" and give a final verdict then.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bloodrayne (3½ Stars)

The story takes place in 18th Century Europe. Rayne is a dhampir, the offspring of a vampire and a human. She's been captured by a travelling carnival and is being put on show as a freak. Until one day she escapes and vows to take revenge on her father (the vampire Kagan) for killing her mother. To do this she allies herself with an organisation of vampire hunters called Brimstone.

Kristanna Loken, best known for her role as a killing machine in "Terminator 3", is a beautiful woman, but in this film she somehow lacks sex appeal. Michael Madsen is an often criticised actor, but he puts in a good performance as the leader of Brimstone. Ben Kingsley gives a very impressive performance as the cool, reserved Kagan.

Maybe it's unfair that I'm giving this film so low a rating. The film's main weakness was made necessary by its very concept: it's a film based on a computer game. I've never played the game, but watching the film I can see all the elements of a game, so I suspect that the story is based closely on the game itself. There are quests, journeys, clues, and battles with monsters at key points. At so many points throughout the film I could see the main characters doing things immediately that as a game player I would have finally done by trial and error. That disturbed me, which is why I couldn't rate the film any higher. Please leave your comments about this film.

Click here to view the trailer.

Adventures of Power (4 Stars)

I bought this DVD a few weeks ago, but didn't watch it till today because I was only watching horror films last month. All this time it's been lying next to my computer and I've been itching to watch it. The suspense was increasing daily. Would it live up to the expectations I'd had ever since first seeing the trailer?

Power Oblas lives in Lode, New Mexico, a town built up around copper mining. He's in his late 20's, but he's still single and lives in a single room with his aunt. Why not at least with his father, the copper mine's union leader? Obviously his father is disappointed with him. He'd given his son the name Power to inspire him to great things, but now that he's adult his father says he looks gay. Power's passion is classic rock, in particular Rush and Styx, and he constantly air drums to their music.

Due to paycuts a strike is looming in the mine. Power is fired for air drumming at work literally minutes before the strike begins. This misfortune turns out to be his lucky break. No longer having to work, he travels to Mexico where he discovers an illegal air drumming society. He barely escapes arrest when a meeting is broken up by the Mexican police -- "All air drummers and gamblers are under arrest!" -- and flees to New Jersey to join a group of like-minded air drummers.

His adventures on the east coast of the USA, far, far away from his home in New Mexico, show how his passion for music and air drumming turns his life around. He overcomes adversity to become famous, find a girlfriend, save his home town and become reconciled with his father.

By all accounts this is an unusual film. It presents a serious message hidden within a shell of comedy. Having said that, I don't really find the film funny. I can relate to Power too well to be able to laugh at his exploits. The main message of the film is that you should be true to yourself and follow your dream, even if you're ridiculed. A secondary, though just as important message, is the power of music to fulfil a person. This is a wonderful feel-good film that I strongly recommend to my friends and readers.

Click here to view the trailer.

In his introduction writer/director Ari Gold, who also plays the part of Power, says he wishes that he could be sitting with the viewers in their living room to discuss the movie. I wish he could do that as well. His bubbling passion for the movie, as shown in the interviews and commentaries on the disk, is very addictive. This was the first film he's directed, and it's a breath of fresh air in the stale world of the big business politics of the film industry. Let's hope he makes many more films.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Planet Terror (4½ Stars)

This is my 15th and final Horror film for October. Yes, I know it's November already, I'm late writing the review. And actually, I'm disappointed with my readers. I made a mistake and you didn't tell me. I counted wrong, so it's really only my 14th film. "Young Frankenstein" was the 7th film and my next post, "Female Vampire", was the 9th. I miscounted and skipped a number. Maybe next year I'll make a list of the films in advance so I don't get mixed up. Or maybe I should just pay more attention.

Anyway, back to this film which I watched on the evening of Halloween, an excellent climax to my October horror month. An excellent new film in the good old grindhouse style of the 70's. It's one of the new wave of zombie films. Zombies with a scientific background. It's a mutation caused by a highly contagious virus that was created by America to wage biological warfare in Afghanistan. Although it's an enjoyable horror movie in its own right, it can only be fully appreciated in comparison with the films that it's paying homage to. Fans of the old horror films will love this. Fans of modern horror films will probably like it as well, but they'll grin and call it corny.

I''m not sure what to write about the plot, so I'll just quote the product description:

Maverick director Robert Rodriguez's take on the zombie infestation genre. In a plot-line that may seem familiar, government scientists at a remote Texan facility have managed to unleash a deadly virus that turns normal, healthy citizens into raving, murdering mutants. With the hordes of crazed psychotics multiplying at an unstoppable rate, it's a spatterfest all the way as go-go-dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), mysterious drifter El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), and professional smuggler Abby (Naveen Andrews) have to force an escape route to a helicopter that is their only chance of escape.

Although it doesn't reach the same heights as Robert Rodriguez's other films, "From Dusk Till Dawn" and "Machete", this is still a must-watch for fans of retro horror.

Click here to view the trailer.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Music Video: Blutengel, Vampire Romance (Live)

My last music video seems to have been well accepted, so here's another one. An incredible live performance by Blutengel. Halloween is over, but the vampires live on.