Friday, November 12, 2010

Reviews from the B-Movie Death-Dungeon

Spent an enjoyable evening with Blair "Dream Stealer" MacDougall examining some of the finest B-movie titles in history, that have been cruelly neglected by the filmgoing public at large. These particular titles were apparently left in Blair's house by an ex-girlfriend of Pot's, and never reclaimed. Well, we certainly found out why. As part of our continuing mission to trawl the depths of B-movie hell in the forlorn hope of dredging some kind of deeper meaning out of them, we watched them. God help us.

Cyclone (1987)

Rick Davenport (Jeffrey 'Re-animator' Combs) is a scientist charged with the inexplicable task of designing a motorbike armed with lasers and missiles for the US government. However, on a night out dancing with his girlfriend Teri (Heather 'BJ and The Bear','The Love Boat','TJ Hooker','Co-ed Fever' Thomas) some punk sticks a screwdriver into Rick's skull. Turns out that Martin Landau, playing Martin Landau, has sent a pair of killer assassins to whack Rick and take his bike. Unfortunately for them, Teri, who is also a barefist fighting master and motorcycle stunt rider, gets her hands on Cyclone - the ultimate motorcycle - first. Featuring laughable dialogue, and a synth led soundtrack that utterly embodies 80s naffness, 'Cyclone' is truly hilarious. It's got stunts, mostly done by girls on bikes, however, Blair and I had a good time pointing out when the stunts were obviously done by men dressed up. This was quite obvious since one of the riders simply had massive tits in one shot, and then no tits and hairy arms in the other. That wasn't the best thing about 'Cyclone' though. In the finale, when Teri finally unleashes pure motorcycle-based destruction on her tormentors, the scene in which she incinerates the lead assassin to death with Cyclone's lasers (tragically, just after his one moment of actual 'acting') is truly worth waiting the one hour and twenty minutes of the film to see. It is an absolute fucking masterpiece.

She (1982)

Starring 'Conan The Barbarian' lead actress Sandahl Bergman as the eponymous heroine, we had high hopes for 'She'. The DVD case made wild boasts about beautiful women and brutal violence. The film begins in a post-apocalyptic landscape that looks a lot somewhere in Europe with a good exchange rate, and a bunch of nazi knights laying poorly choreographed waste to a village, to the sound of utterly pumping heavy metal. This is without a doubt the most intrusive soundtrack to anything I have ever heard. It sounds like it was written for another film.
The plot: two brothers who look absolutely nothing like one another have to rescue their sister from the evil "Norks". I'm not kidding. Anyway, on the way they end up in a violent female dominated society where She is the goddess. She seems to spend most of her time essentially raping and murdering men, although this is never referenced after about the first 20 minutes. Anyway, our heroes kidnap her and force her to take them to the Norks lair. On the way they meet werewolves (read actors with large, fake eyebrows and plastic fangs), a bunch of monks and another supposed 'god' who can make things fly about on string when he uses his god power. He also has the most astonishingly hairy arms. They also meet a tranny giant with an astonishingly hairy back. I surmise the last two are brothers, although this can't be corroborated. They then meet an obnoxious sailor who multiplies as he is cut into pieces. At no time is it explained how this is possible. Anyway, they defeat the Norks, get their sister back, one of the blokes falls in love with She (forgetting she's a murdering rapist) and that's the end of the film. Holy fuck.

Sulwath Brewery

A cloudy and crisp wheat beer from Sulwath Brewers in Dumfriesshire. A very strong one at 5.5%, but very full-bodied and flavourful. Lots of sediment that requires rolling the bottle to get the last of it in. Pleasing picture of flying geese on the front. Bought this from a couple of pleasant guys at the Good Food Show who dug ice hockey. Very nice. I also had the Black Douglas, which is the same brewery's porter, and that was effing gorgeous. Very raisiny and Christmassy. Would recommend both of these.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The five greatest comic books of all time.

Because I am an enormous geek, I have taken great delight from the news that Judge Dredd is to be rebooted for another film. I am even more delighted that scripting duties are falling to Alex Garland, who in addition to being a great writer, is an avowed Dredd fan. Casting gives us even more to be happy about, with Karl Urban coming out of leftfield, and although I would never have considered him for the part in a million years, it actually makes perfect sense. And he's a 2000 AD fan as well, so he'll try and do the character justice rather than just shouting a lot like Stallone did. Man, as much as I try to like Stallone's Dredd I just can't. That film was an abomination. Stallone's performance was a little bit too reminiscent of Rocky V, and as for Rob Schneider being in it, whose idea was that? Armand Assante was the worst choice ever for Rico, and he should have been a mangled, twisted, anarchic version of Dredd, more like he was in the comics. About the only good thing in it is Hammerstein, and he's technically not even a Dredd character.

Anyway, in celebration of the 2012 Dredd film, here is a top five run down of the greatest comics of all time. I know. Poor segue.

5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Following self-imposed retirement after the death of Robin, a middle-aged Batman returns to the fray to rid Gotham of gang violence and a couple of old enemies. The book that changed the tone of Batman forever from camp and colourful to dark and gritty, Frank Miller fills the book with questions about the rights of superheroes, much in the same vein that Alan Moore would with The Watchmen. Although you root for Batman all the way through, in some places he actually becomes something of a terrifying character. By the close, you don't know whether it's him or the Joker who's crazier. The book ends with a showdown between Bats and Superman, who has been brought in to stop him getting out of hand. But the real reveal is the twist that comes after that. Amazing, and actually quite chilling.

4. Superman - Red Son

Mark Millar, the man with the best job in the world, asks: What if Superman had landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas? An amazing take on how the Cold War might have gone differently if Superman had been a commie pinko instead of a filthy capitalist. Featuring an anarchist Batman with quite an amazing hat.

3. Judge Dredd - The Cursed Earth

The best Dredd story by a long shot. When Mega City Two is infected with a deadly virus, Dredd leads a rescue mission into the Cursed Earth to bring in the antidote. Accompanied by Spikes Harvey Rotten, the criminal biker that he brought along with him out of what seemed to be an act of perverse cruelty, and Tweek, and enslaved alien that they free along the way, Dredd fights his way through the mental denizens of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, including Satanus the Tyrannosaurus Rex, robot vampires, and the feared Angel Gang. Starting off in an armoured tank and with an army of sidekicks, by the end of the storyline Dredd was alone, crawling on his hands and knees through the desert, everybody else having been killed along the way. And you know what? He made it. Because Dredd is that drokking hard.

2. Preacher - Alamo

The final Preacher book is all about settling scores. Jesse has a score to settle with Cassidy, and the two former best friends finally beat the shit into one another in a largely indecisive duel at the Alamo. Herr Starr, on the other hand, blames Jesse for the loss of a number of his body parts, and having eschewed his plan to install the titular clergyman as a puppet messiah, is now hell-bent on revenge. The Saint of Killers finally has a word with God Almighty, and it doesn't end well for the big guy.

1. The Watchmen

The Watchmen is the best, because from start to finish it is pure brilliance. The dialogue, characterisation, the art, are all perfect. And the unsettling questions that Alan Moore asks have never been more eloquently put. Don't worry though, superheroes aren't all fascists and homosexuals. Not really.