Sunday, 29 May 2011

That was the week that was (23 - 29 May)

So, another week has passed - not nearly as many films to report on as last week, largely due to me purchasing LA Noire for the Xbox and getting absorbed in a world of '40s Hollywood intrigue. Still, all 3 of the films I did see this week were very good.

The Evil Dead (1981)

 Sam Raimi's feature film debut, this is a story of a group of college friends who head into the woods for a relaxing weekend in an old wooden cabin. Unfortunately, it appears that the previous occupant of the cabin was a professor with an interest in the occult, and when one of the students plays an tape of the professor reading aloud incantations from the 'Book of the Dead', all hell breaks loose as evil spirits begin to possess the group. Pretty soon, only one man is left standing - Ash (played by Bruce Campbell). Will he be able to get through to dawn before he too is taken by the dark forces lurking in the forest. Considering the very low budget which Raimi had to work with, The Evil Dead is a remarkable success - the special effects are equally inventive and repulsive, and as well as being frequently scary, it is also very funny - chiefly due to the sheer amount of gore on display. The acting is a little weak at times (all of the cast were non-professional actors), but that doesn't get in the way of a terrific take on the zombie movie. This is actually the final part of the Evil Dead trilogy which I've seen (I started with Part and moved on to Army of Darkness before getting round to the original) - but I've got to say that this is probably my favourite movie of the three.

Rating: 8/10

Attack the Block (2011)

Another movie which expertly manages to mix up horror and comedy, this is well worth a watch. One minor irritation to report though (nothing to do with the movie itself, mind) - when are they going to change that bloody Orange Rio tie in commercial? I must have seen it about 20 times now, and it wasn't funny the first time. Now it's just excrutiating. I've enjoyed a few of the Orange ads in the past, but this one is well past it's sell by date, particularly as Rio has been out for over a month. I'm just hoping they'll have changed it by the next time I go to the cinema. Anyway, like Evil Dead, Attack the Block manages to get laughs and scares on a limited budget. The aliens aren't exactly terrifying in themselves, but Cornish gets a lot of mileage out of jumpy moments where they suddenly appear from off screen to mangle an unsuspecting victim. Possibly the biggest point in this film's favour is the way that you go from strongly disliking the central characters (who begin the movie by mugging a nurse outside a South London council estate) to empathising with them. They aren't bad kids essentially, they're just products of their environment, and over the course of the film they learn that negative actions are likely to lead to unpleasant consequences. The script is funny, in a low key sort of way, throughout the film, and there are particularly funny turns from Nick Frost as a low level drug dealer, and Luke Treadaway as a stoned rich kid who has the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rating: 8/10

Rio Bravo (1959)

A classic Western with John Wayne, Dean Martin and Angie Dickinson. A sheriff in a small Texan town in the Old West tries to guard the brother of a rich ranch owner who is wanted by the US Marshal for murder - and is helped by a ragtag group of town outcasts, including a drunk, an old man with a limp, a fast talking female card sharp and a quick on the draw youngster.  I've never usually been particularly fond of the Western genre - I've liked a few of the more recent ones which I've seen (3.10 to Yuma, Unforgiven, Tombstone,  Open Range), but there are a large number of classic Westerns which I haven't got round to seeing yet. Anyway, after a writer at the Onion AV Club strongly recommended Rio Bravo, I thought I'd give it a go. I enjoyed it well enough, but was never really blown away by it. There were some well staged shootouts, a good old fashioned singsong, and Martin and Wayne are both charismatic performers.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

That was the week that was (16 - 22 May) - Part Two

So, onto Part Two of last week's movie round up...

Four Lions (2010)

Chris Morris' feature film debut is a controversial comedy centring on the (mis)adventures of five would be suicide bombers (spoiler alert - one of them doesn't even make it to the main event). Morris shows the human side of the jihadists - they're shown to be more as bumbling fools rather than fearless agents of death (though the police investigating their activities ultimately prove to be just as incompetent). Of the terrrorist cell in question, only the leader, Omar, seems to have any idea what's going on - his brothers in terror consist of two simple minded souls, an Ali G like rapper and a white Muslim convert who believes the best course of action is to bomb a mosque 'to radicalise the moderates'. Despite the serious subject matter, this film is often hilariously funny and is definitely worth a watch. It's certainly the only suicide bomb-com out there at the moment.

Rating: 8/10

Changeling (2008)

I'm not really a big Angelina fan, and find Clint Eastwood to be a bit hit and miss as a director (loved Unforgiven and Mystic River, liked Gran Torino, hated Million Dollar Baby). I was therefore a little surprised to be so impressed with this film. I suppose it's the period trappings that really sold it for me - the late 1920s - early 1930s era has been lovingly recreated with some sumptuous set and costume design, but that is matched by a thrilling plot and very strong performances from Jolie, John Malkovich and Jason Butler Harner. The story sounded almost far fetched to be plausible - a woman whose son goes missing is presented with another child by the LAPD who refuse to accept that they have made a mistake, at the same time as a deranged child killer keeps kids locked up in a chicken coop on his ranch on the outskirts of town - until I realised that it was all based on a true story. A powerful story and a very entertaining movie.

Rating: 9/10

The Shining (1980)

My favourite horror film of all time - I've seen it about 4 or 5 times before, but the images are still shocking. I suppose the measure of its success is the way in which certain scenes from the movie are indelibly etched in my mind - in particular, the twin girls appearing in the hallway, the old lady in room 237 and the elevators filled with blood. Masterfully directed by Stanley Kubrick, who apparently drove his cast (in particular Shelley Duvall) to the point of madness with his demands, it's a film that can be watched time and time again, without ever revealing all of it secrets. Why does Jack appear in the picture at the end of the movie? Has he been sucked into the evil of the Overlook Hotel, or has he simply 'always' been there? A true classic. I've just discovered that the American cut of the movie contains an additional half an hour's worth of footage - I shall have to try and track down a DVD with that cut of the film.

Rating: 10/10

Taxi Driver (1976)

Probably Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, this is another stone cold classic - everything about this movie is great. Scorsese and De Niro are at the absolute peak of their powers. De Niro worked as a taxi driver in New York for a month before shooting to enable him to get inside the head of the protagonist, Travis Bickle, a lonely man whose sense of alienation and misanthropy gradually leads him to madness. The cinematography and sound track are top notch too, with the steam rising through vents of the streets of New York pierced by the neon lights of the then seedy Times Square are of the city to create a hellish atmosphere. One plot point I'd almost forgotten since the last time I saw Taxi Driver is that Travis ends the film a hero in the eyes of the media, lauded for gunning down the pimps who had 'enslaved' 12 year old Iris (played by Jodie Foster). A brilliant film which always holds up on repeat viewings.

Rating: 10/10

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008)

From the sublime to the ridiculous... this film has recently been touted as the 'worst of all time', and while I can't claim to have seen many of the other contenders which are frequently cited as the absolute nadir of cinema (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Manos: The Hands of Fate etc), Birdemic is definitely the worst made movie I've ever watched.  The most glaring errors come in the form of the sound mix, which drops in and out wildly during scenes, but the storyline makes no sense, the acting is atrocious and the special effects appear to just be animated GIFs of birds superimposed on the screen. Actually calling the acting atrocious may do it too much credit - the line readings are excrutiatingly stilted and unnatural, with the worst offender being Alan 'Block O' Wood' Bagh, who plays the lead role in the movie. I'm torn between giving it the high mark which it might merit as an unintentional comedy, or the low mark which it deserves as a piece of filmmaking. As I'm generally a little soft on movies and rarely give a mark below 5, I might never get another chance to dish out a 1, so I'll take the opportunity here.

Rating: 1/10

13 Assassins (2010)

 A bloodthirsty romp in feudal Japan, Takashi Miike's movie tells the story of twelve Samurai warriors (and one wild man from the forest) who team up to take down the unspeakably cruel ruler of a prefecture. It reminded me quite a bit of the Seven Samurai - as in that movie, the first two thirds of the film involves putting together a crack team of warriors, while the final third consists of a violent showdown in a village. Solidly entertaining, and well worth seeing for the climatic battle scenes.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 22 May 2011

That was the week that was (16 - 22 May) - Part One

Well, I saw a lot of films this week. I was off work on Wednesday and Thursday, so got the chance to watch (and rewatch) quite a few films that I'd been saving for a rainy day for some time now. As there are so many films to get through, I'll try and keep it concise.

Fright Night (1985)

A pretty decent mix of horror and comedy. An average American kid discovers that his flamboyant new neighbour may be a vampire, and decides to investigate with the help of his girlfriend, and a washed up former horror movie star played by Roddy McDowall. I'm not sure this really succeeds as a horror (I wasn't really scared), or a comedy (I chuckled a few times, but that's it), but this was still a likeable movie. Apparently, there's a remake coming out this year (starring Colin Farrell as the vampire), which might be worth seeing.

Rating: 6/10

Funny People (2009)

This was also a mix of genres - this time comedy and drama. Adam Sandler plays a bored movie star who sold out long ago to play the lead in a series of puerile comedies (can't have been too much of a stretch for Sandler, then). His life is turned upside down when he discovers he may have a terminal illness, and he takes his put upon personal assistant (Seth Rogen) on a journey to try and track down the girl that got away (Leslie Mann). I largely enjoyed the first half of this film, which focusses on Seth Rogen's life as an aspiring stand up comedian, and features some funny moments whenever Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzmann are on screen. Unfortunately, half way through, when the attention switches to the love story, I really lost interest - Sandler's character is really obnoxious, and I didn't care whether or not he'd get back together with Leslie Mann. If they'd just focussed on the lives of young comedians, this could have been up there with the 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. As it is, it's far too long and only sporadically amusing.

Rating: 5/10

Spartacus (1960)

I watched this one due to my interest in Stanley Kubrick, rather than out of any love for swords and sandals epics. To be honest, I don't really have much interest in those movies, and have to confess I've never watched Ben Hur or Cleopatra and don't have any plans to do so. I guess my attention span these days is too short to sit through a movie for over three hours unless I'm really enjoying it. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised with Spartacus. Although there aren't really any touches which would identify the movie as being directed by Kubrick, the movie is well paced and maintained my interest throughout. It also boasts an excellent cast (including Kirk Douglas, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis and Jean Simmons); Ustinov was especially good as the scheming head of the gladiator school.

Rating: 7/10

The Secret of My Success (1987)

A very '80s comedy, starring Michael J Fox as an ambitious young college graduate who arrives in New York City looking for work, but finds it tricky to get a foothold on the job market. After he's given a job by his uncle in the mail room of a large corporation, he decides to pose as a high flying executive to impress a female coworker with the hair of Princess Di... This one didn't leave too much of an impression on me - I saw it on Wednesday, and I'm struggling to remember to much about it. It's got a few funny moments and Michael J Fox is as charming as ever, but it's merely adequate as a comedy.

Rating: 5/10

The Descent (2005)

A pretty effective little horror movie, in which a group of potholers go 'off piste' to a previously unmapped series of caves in the Appalachian mountains, and find that they are not alone underground. The tension is skillfully built up by director Neil Marshall, as the trip gradually turns from an exciting expedition to a terrifying ordeal. Marshall also sensibly refrains from introducing the monsters until the second half of the picture. I did like the look of the subterranean creatures - they're both grotesque and suprisingly plausible as humans who have evolved to live without light. This one features a good twist ending too.

Rating: 7/10

Total Recall (1990)

I bought this movie when I was searching for a third DVD to complete a '3 for £10' deal. I'm glad I did, too - it was even better than I remembered. Paul Verhoeven creates a very believable alternate future world, in which the solar system has been colonised (though the computer and TV displays look a little dated). Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a regular Joe who tires of his dull life married to Sharon Stone (!) and is drawn to adventure on Mars - so visits Total Recall - an agency which offers you the chance of implanting the memories of a trip of a lifetime; Arnie chooses the life of a secret agent inflitrating rebels on Mars. The film poses interesting questions about whether the story is real, or whether it's all in Arnie's head, and is also highly entertaining as an action movie, complete with one or two signature one liners from the Governator. "Consider that a divorce!"

Rating: 8/10

Well, that takes us as far as Wednesday, and it's already getting a little late. I shall return to post reviews on the following movies tomorrow:

Four Lions
The Shining
Taxi Driver
Birdemic: Shock and Terror
13 Assassins

Monday, 16 May 2011

That was the week that was (9 May - 15 May)

Another week has passed and again, not too many movies seen this week, but I was very impressed with two of the films I did see. Which ones, you may ask? Read on and find out (if you dare). Seriously, please read on.

Dogtooth (2009)

I'd been looking forward to seeing this one for a while - it was highly recommended at the AV Club in their Oscar line up. While this film didn't end up winning the Best Foreign Language Film, I can safely say it's way better than A Better World (despite having not seen the latter movie) . Actually, I should probably retract that last statement, at least until I've seen all the nominated films. I made a similar claim last year, when I felt A Prophet was robbed at the Academy Awards, but then saw The Secret In Their Eyes and realised that both films were equally brilliant. Anyway, Dogtooth definitely isn't going to be for everyone - it's probably the most twisted, incestuous story to come out of Greece since Oedipus. The storyline involves an extremely overprotective father who keeps his children (two girls and a boy, who all appear to be in their 20s) at home all day, preventing them from experiencing the outside world. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that the kids have never been out of the house and though they are kept in good shape physically, their mental and emotional development has been warped. The father and mother have given their children the impression that the world outside their comfortable middle class home is a terrifying and deadly place, and exert almost complete control over their children's lives.  The children are constantly playing games with each other, vying for top dog status in the household - and in playing those games we see their repressed sexuality and stunted social skills. The delicate balance of the family's home life is thrown into disorder by the arrival of a female security guard at the factory that the father owns, who is brought in on a regular basis to sexually service the son, but brings in evidence of a world outside the family home in the form of videotapes of Rocky and Jaws. Having seen the tapes, the oldest daughter begins to plot her escape, with horrifying and horrific results. Though the film is obviously very dark in nature, it also features flashes of black comedy (such as the way in which the parents deliberately misinform their children of the meanings of words which they come across - so, for example, the word 'zombie' is defined as a 'small yellow flower'). I was thoroughly engrossed and captivated by this film, and highly recommend it.

Rating: 8/10

Hanna (2011)

On to another movie which I thoroughly enjoyed. In a way, I suspect this may be partly due to my fairly low expectations for this film before I went in. I'd seen a few lukewarm reviews for Hanna, so wasn't expecting too much, but came away rather dazzled. (Something similar happened recently with Limitless, which I had very low expectations for, based on its reviews, but really enjoyed). The movie can be seen either as a spy thriller, or as a modern day fairytale - a young girl (Hanna, played brilliantly by Saoirse Ronan) has grown up in the remote woods of northern Finland, where her father, a bearded woodsman has been training her in combat and survival skills. Having reached the age of 16, she decides she is ready for the outside world, but before she and her father can reenter society, they must first defeat a rogue CIA agent/ wicked witch played by Cate Blanchett. The cinematography for this movie is just gorgeous, with some beautifully shot scenes of arctic forests in Finland, and of the Moroccan desert. I was equally impressed with the soundtrack and sound mixing - the propulsive score by the Chemical Brothers heightens the tension during the fight scenes and really helps the viewer empathise with unease that Hanna feels as she experiences the outside world for the first time. The film has a few problems - there are a few dubious accents on display, the plotline doesn't provide answers to all the questions that it raises, and if I'm nitpicking, it seems a little odd that Hanna is able to take out a whole troup of highly trained American soldiers, but has real problems in tackling a camp German chap in a tracksuit and a couple of skinheads . Despite all that, I came away from the cinema with a big grin on my face and I'm more than willing to forgive a movie a few flaws in view of its many virtues.

Rating: 9/10

Caddyshack (1980)

In which an exclusive golf club is faced with a number of threats to its snobby, privileged existence - a crass new arrival to the club is putting the members noses out of joint, and gophers are tearing apart the greens. Can Bill Murray's deranged greenskeeper resolve the gopher situation? Will Rodney Dangerfield's wisecracking noveau riche slob triumph over the blueblooded Judge Smails? Can caddy Danny Noonan claim a scholarship from the judge whilst romancing his niece? All these questions (and more!) are answered by watching this vintage comedy. I've heard quite a few people mention Caddyshack as an absolute, stone cold classic, so I was quite looking forward to watching it. It doesn't quite match up to the hype (in my opinion), but there were still quite a few laughs throughout the movie - I really liked most of the scenes which feature Rodney Dangerfield, and Chevy Chase's zen golf routine was funny too. I suppose what I'll take from it most of all is an understanding of the Simpsons episode Burns Baby Burns - quite a few of Rodney Dangerfield's lines in that episode are pretty much lifted from this movie. Overall then, funny, but a bit patchy and rather dated.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 9 May 2011

That was the week that was (2 May - 8 May)

So, then. This week's magical weekly round up overlaps slightly with the previous week's - I watched my Life As A Dog after I posted the previous post, but I've posted it along with the rest of reviews from this week. And why not?

Well, with that fascinating and insightful preamble out of the way, it's on to the reviews. Excited? I certainly am.

My Life As A Dog (1985)

I was looking for something a little sweet to finish off my long break from work, and this film definitely delivered the goods. To be fair, I had seen it before, a little over a year ago, but even second time around, MLAAD was as poignant, quirky and funny as the first time I saw it. The movie tells the story of a young Swedish boy named Ingemar who is sent to live with relatives in a remote village after his sick mother takes a turn for the worse. On arriving in his new home, he meets a wide range of colourful and unusual characters, including his uncle, whose obsession with the Swedish version of 'I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" is driving his wife to distraction. He also befriends the local tomboy and engages in a series of romantically charged boxing bouts with her (despite the fact they only have two gloves between them). I suppose it may all sound a little bit sickly and sentimental, but Lasse Hallstrom shows a deft touch in directing this picture, and balances the quirky humour with some real sadness, as Ingemar suffers a couple of devastating setbacks. Hallstrom has made a couple of good movies since (What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules), but for my money this is his best one.

Rating: 9/10

Saw (2004)

From a movie that really held up well on second viewing to one which did not hold up so well. I first saw Saw (as it were) in a packed cinema with a few friends, and I guess it must have been the atmosphere of several hundred people jumping out of there seats, but Saw really seemed scary first time round. This time, I watched it alone at home, and the effect was definitely not the same. There are one or two decent scares - a scene in which Leigh Whannell's character stumbles around his house lit only by the flashbulb from his camera springs to mins - but the shaky American accents, hammy acting (in particular Mr Cary Elwes, who delivers a truly awful perfomance) and numerous plotholes  drop the film down a grade or two. On the other hand, there are a number of elements which work well in Saw - the killer's motive was original and interesting, the various murderous contraptions seemed like a fresh and inventive idea at the time (the effect has been dampened by the innumerable sequels) and the puppet is still very creepy (though the filmakers possibly owe a debt to a similar scene from Profondo Rosso).

Rating: 6/10

Thor (2011)

In which Kenneth Branagh tries his hand at a blockbuster, with mixed results. This was the only new film I saw this week, which is a little disappointing (curse you Lovefilm, you said you were going to send me Caddyhack on Wednesday. It still hasn't arrived!) and I wasn't overally impressed with this one - I wouldn't say that it was a waste of time watching it, but it was never really anything more than passable entertainment. I felt that the parts of the movie which were set in Valhalla or Asgard really dragged - the cod-Shakespearian dialogue felt really clunky, the CGI sets looked fake and I just didn't care that much about Norse gods fighting an intergalactic battle against Ice giants. On the other hand, I enjoyed the middle section of the film, which featured Chris Hemworth's Thor trying to adapt to life in a small New Mexico town and forming a relationship with Natalie Portman's astrophysicist. That section featured some very amusing lines, and also the best battle sequence, in which Thor and his cohorts take on an fire breathing robot, piloted by his  duplicitous brother Loki. Overall, then, decent enough summer fun, but probably not a movie I'll be revisiting again.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 2 May 2011

That was the week that was (25 April - 2 May)

Well, here we go with week three of my regular movie round up. I'm going to try and keep it brief this week, as: a) I've been off work all week and have seen quite a few movies, b) I'm not sure I'm adding too much in attempting to regurgitate the plots of the films I've seen so will try just to restrict my comments to my opinions of the films and c) a fair number of the movies I saw this week were Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, and I don't know if I have that much to say about each one individually. Also, I'm extending the week by one day, to cover the films that I saw on the Bank Holiday Monday (today).

Anyway, without further ado, here we go:

Meek's Cutoff (2011)

This was a slow paced modern Western, showing the realities of the hardships faced by settlers heading west on the Oregon trail. The Meek of the title is the only real 'cowboy' who features in the film, a smooth talking hustler who quite possibly has no idea of where he's taking the settlers, and may even be luring them to their doom. Until the ending, I was enjoying this film (though not as much as Wendy & Lucy by the same director), but when it ended in the most inconclusive fashion imaginable, I heard quite a few gasps of disappointment from other people in audience and I can see where those people were coming from. As we never see the beginning or end of the travellers' journey, it's possible the whole film is some kind of metaphor for being in purgatory or something, but it was still a bit frustrating to end on such a note.  Another gripe I had with the film was that it was shot in 4:3 format, meaning the Western vistas weren't quite as impressive as they would have been had it been shot in widescreen. Nevertheless, it features good performances from Michelle Williams and Paul Dano amongst others, and it was interesting to see a take on the American West showing the realities of everyday survival on the trail.

Rating: 6/10

Vice Versa (1988)

I saw this film on Friday last week, and three days later have largely forgotten it, which tells you something about either the film itself or my memory, I'm not sure. Anyway, this one features '80s superstars Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage as a father and son who are forced to endure some sort of body swap shenanigans after wishing to trade places in the presence of a mystical Buddhist MacGuffin. I'm probably being a bit harsh on this film - although it wasn't very memorable, it was enjoyable enough and fairly amusing and I do have a bit of a soft spot for body swap comedies. One point which does stick in my memory - Reinhold asking for Gray Poupon mustard in a restaurant. He was just lucky Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar weren't there to witness it.

Rating: 5/10

Lolita (1962)

From a very light and breezy movie to a film with a rather darker and seedier tone. I'm a big fan of a number of Kubrick's films, in particular The Shining, 2001 and Full Metal Jacket, (Kubrick movies I haven't seen now: Paths of Glory,  Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut) and was interested to see how he would adapt Nabakov's novel, which I have recently finished reading. Overall, I think he handled it well - it must have been difficult to get a film like this past the censors in the '60s, and the film retains the plot and subject matter of the book for the most part, though a number of the more controversial elements of the novel have been removed. I particularly liked Peter Sellers' over the top turn as Humbert Humbert's even more odious rival, Claire Quilty. (Sellers adopts a number of different accents and disguises as he tracks Humbert's movements, including a German psychiatrist who sounds very much like Dr Stangelove). However, moving the ending of the novel to the beginning of the film does remove a good deal of the suspense from the story.

Rating: 7/10

Iron Man 2 (2010)

I'd read a number of lukewarm to poor reviews of this film when I first came out, so I didn't go to see it in the cinema. However, I was pleasantly surprised after watching the movie - it's a very solid summer blockbuster with plenty of exciting battle sequences, lots of funny lines and some very amusingly hammy turns from the likes of Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke. I certainly wouldn't put it up there with the new Batman movies - it's clear throughout that this one is just being played for laughs, but it isn't too far away from the first Iron Man movie. There are a few problems - it's a little bit too long, which is chiefly down to two superfluous characters played by Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson. Neither Nick Fury or the Black Widow really add anything to the plot here, and both just seem to have been added to the mix so that they can be introduced ahead of the upcoming Avengers movie. If they'd have just focussed on the Downey Jr vs Rourke plotline, this could have been really good. Instead, it's fun, but just a little bit flabby.

Rating: 6/10

The Fog (1980)

A classic John Carpenter horror movie - not quite up there with Halloween or The Thing (in my opinion), but still really good. On paper, it sounds a little ridiculous - a fog containing the ghosts of vengeful mariners attacks a small coastal town in California which is celebrating its one hundred year anniversary. However, it manages to be genuinely scary at times. particularly those scenes where the ghostly pirates bang on the door late at night, and where the corpse of a dead sailor comes back to life. Carpenter expertly ratchets up the tension from early scenes where many car alarms and other inanimate objects suddenly come to life, to attacks on various townspeople and on to a final climactic battle in a church.  Great stuff.

Rating: 8/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Parts 2 - 7)

I recently purchased a complete box set of every ANOES movie, and as I was at a bit of a loose end for the last two days, I decided to take the opportunity to watch a bunch of Freddy Krueger movies back to back. (I saw the first one just a couple of months ago, so didn't think it was worth rewatching it). As I mentioned above, I'm not going to bother going into too much detail here - all of these films are based around basically the same premise - pizza faced child murderer Fred Krueger takes revenge on the adults of Smallwood, Ohio for burning him to death by going after their teenaged offspring in their dreams. However, some of these films execute that premise with a lot more panache than others - I think Parts 1 and 3 are genuinely good horror films, but Parts 2 and 5 are absolutely dire. I will go back and include some mini reviews of each episode in a day or so, but for the time being I have just ranked them from best to worst. [Postscript - I never got around to writing the reviews, but I have now added my score out of ten for each one.]

My rankings for the whole series (excluding Freddy vs Jason and the remake):

3: The Dream Warriors (8/10)
1: A Nightmare on Elm Street (the original) (7/10)
7: Wes Craven's New Nightmare (6/10)
4: The Dream Master (5/10)
6: Freddy's Dead (3/10)
2: Freddy's Revenge (3/10)
5: The Dream Child (2/10)