God Hates Astronauts #1 Review

god hates astronauts cover

I have to say I went in a little blind when I picked up this issue of God Hates Astronauts in as much as I didn’t realise how much a world creator Ryan Browne had already made. Visiting his website only goes to show how much I have already missed. However dear reader, do not be afraid, because with this latest issue from Image you are at the perfect jumping in point and can pick up the story straight away.

For those that are fans of slightly surreal and off kilter comics, then this is one certainly for you. The plot follows space farmers, interspecies love (who dares keep a man and his chicken away from each other in the name of true love?!), a cheeeseburger eating tiger king and many other weird and wonderful characters.

The comic itself it set out in a rather tongue in cheek manner, with fake reviews on the back, all of which seem to be telling people not to bother with the comic and to buy Snopple. The age rating at the back is referred to as “mature readers only?”, and it is little touches like this that show the huge amount of detail and control that goes into every issue of a comic.

I cannot recommend this comic highly enough as it is a so funny and I am extremely excited to see how the story unfolds over the coming months!

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American Interior – Review

Coming from a Welsh background I couldn’t help but be interested in the latest film from Gruff Rhys (lead singer of The Super Furry Animals), American Interior.

The film focusses on the life of a young Welshman, by the name of John Evans, who decides to travel across to America in 1792 in search a fabled tribe of Welsh speaking Native Americans. Whilst from the outside this may not seem like the most interesting of premises for a film, the finished product is actually a brilliant mix of American road movie, history lesson, and concert/PowerPoint show.

Whether or not Evans is actually a distant relative of Rhys is something people can discuss in their own time, but his story is one that has stuck with Gruff for years since he heard about it and in this he takes it upon himself to follow in Evans’ footsteps across to the States to see how much of story is actually true and how much has just become legend over the years. He manages to bring in experts from both side of the pond in to discuss the life of John Evans and what his life was actually like at the time. It is through these interviews that we learn that this poor boy from a religious family managed to get caught up in all sorts of adventures during his short life; from trying to map the Missouri river by boat to dueling for his life against a Canadian and almost single handedly making sure that the Spanish kept control of America.

The film really is a love letter to the life of John Evans and whilst his name may be the thing of legend to some Welsh families, he is often forgotten by many. It just goes to show the power and determination some individuals have when they put their mind to task, whether that is something as crazy as travelling to a whole new country to try and track down a race of people that may or may not have existed 5 centuries ago. Saying that, during the course of the movie, we are introduced to a whole host of other characters who are trying to keep their own cultures alive, in particular the last native speaker of the Mandan tribe; this was a tribe that Evans thought he was supposed to find.

The whole thing is beautifully shot in monochrome with the occasional highlight and splash of colour in certain shots and as I mentioned before it is intercut with scenes from different shows that Rhys played whilst travelling across America researching his story. It is nice to see how the story evolves as his show does, and it is all presented with Rhys’ own style of deadpan approach. Fans of his music will love the new songs, and I’m sure it will encourage a whole flock of fans to his musical stylings.

I really cannot praise this movie enough. It is funny, moving, passionate, and above all highly entertaining. I really do recommend going to check it out when it is released in cinemas in the UK on May 9th, the US is still waiting for a release date (sorry!)

For more information about the film, which is being released in conjunction with a CD, book and mobile app, go check out the website here

Cabin Fever 3 – Review

Cabin Fever 3

The horror genre is so popular because during the film, it allows the audience to have some nail biting, scary escapism for a few hours and then they are returned safely to their own lives knowing that some crazy axe murderer or in the case of Cabin Fever, a flesh eating virus is going to run amok and destroy their cozy day to day living. However, when something becomes popular and an unexpected hit with the fans, people always want more, and so the franchise is born.

Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero, to give the film its full title, is the latest film to come under the Cabin Fever umbrella and I was sceptical to give a viewing, considering I am such a fan of the first movie. I have to say I hadn’t even considered watching the second one because I felt it couldn’t live up to the first. The reasoning behind me giving into this film is that it was marketed as a prequel and so I was curious as to how the story started.

First off let me just say in my opinion that this film is by no means an official prequel. It may carry the Cabin Fever title, yet it brings nothing to the story that was set out in the first film made by Eli Roth; that isn’t to say that it doesn’t work. It seems more like a companion piece to the franchise, but could quite easily be happening at the same time as the events in the first film or even be a sequel. The whole ‘patient zero’ part of the film is interesting, but it brings nothing else to the story; it just seems to bring in another element to the mythos in the films about how the virus affects everyone it comes into contact with.

The plot is two stories that concurrently to one another. The first follows the life of ‘patient zero’, played by Sean Astin, (oh, how times have changed since Lord of the Rings) and his time in quarantine, where doctors are trying to understand the virus and possibly create a vaccination and find a cure. Much like any doctor in a horror film, the main behind the facility has his own plans, but these don’t come to light until later on in the film. The second story line, focusses on three brothers and a female friend heading off to a secluded island to celebrate the eldest brother’s last night as a single man, before his wedding. As you can most probably expect, things don’t go to plan and soon the happy campers end up infected with the virus. As the film progresses, the two groups come into contact and the story then follows the both of them together as they realise the full impact that the viral pandemic will have on the world.

Cabin Fever 3 is by no means the most original film, but it was certainly better than I expected it to be. The effects are really rather well done and it is nice to see some practical effects still being used in horror these days. The overall tone is certainly reminiscent of the first film and the script, written by Jake Wade Wall, really tries to bring in some of the humour of the first. The cat fight involving the two infected girls towards the end is one the highlights of the film, and I have never seen someone beaten to death by a giant black dildo before. Kaare Andrews, certainly looks like he can handle horror directing well, and it will be interesting to see what his next project is going to be.

Motorway – DVD Review

Out this week from Arrow Films is the Hong Kong action crime movie, Motorway.

Motorway Cover

Some have commented that Motorway could be Hong Kong’s answer to Drive. As much as I would like to agree with this statement, I can’t quite get my head around it. Drive is a completely different entity to Motorway. However, this is not an article to compare and contrast these two film, I just wanted to get any confusion out of the way to start with.

As I mentioned before, Motorway, is a blend of Asian crime and action, but this isn’t a traditional kung-fo fighting movie. The action takes place on the streets. The story follows a pair of traffic police men, Cheung and Lo, who are trying to track down a getaway driver who has orchestrated his own arrest so he can help break out a fellow criminal, who needs him for a job of his own.

The plot isn’t the most adventurous and it does draw on some conventional cop movie plot devices, in as much as the older of pairing, Lo, is still hung up over the fact that he was never able to catch the no returned getaway driver and he has to pass his skills down onto his younger partner, Cheung. The real enjoyment of the film comes from the skillfully shot car action sequences. It isn’t all about the high speed over the top chases found in most vehicle based action films, but Motoway manages to bring some real elegance to the action. It is clear the director has really thought about how they want the film to look and not just quick cuts and fast paced editing to bring some excitement to the screen.

The DVD comes with a making of feature that shows how many of scenes were constructed and for fans of the genre, it is nice to see how everything was put together.

Whilst I wont be rushing to watch Motorway again any time soon, it is certainly a half decent film to have in your collection if you enjoy car based crime films.

The Stuff – DVD Review

The Stuff poster

The Stuff has always been on my list of films that I just had to see, but somehow had never managed to actually track down a copy and consume it, but now thanks to good folks at Arrow Films all that has changed. This week they have released a brand new transfer copy of the original 1985 cult classic on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

The man behind this fan favourite is Larry Cohen, who has brought us such other films as the It’s Alive franchise, Return to Salem’s Lot and wrote the screenplay for Phonebooth and Maniac Cop.

Whilst the plot may seem laughable by today’s standards, in the nearly 30 years that it has been out it had managed to gather such a cult following that fans of the film will welcome this new transfer and a whole host of extras into their home collection.

The story seems like a simple one; in which a mysterious substance in found in the ground which tastes great and so it is swiftly marketed as THE NEW desert for America. Little do the consumers know that the substance, called The Stuff, is actually turning them into mindless consuming zombies that just need of the product. Like the slogan says, “Enough is never enough!”. Underneath this simple plot, is a comment on how people are willing to buy into anything that they think is good for them without giving anything a second thought. As much as the characters try, they just cannot get any information as to what goes into the product and how it has become so popular.

Whilst some of the special effects are rather poor compared to the usual ones that audiences now expect, the film has a nostalgic feel about it and harks back to era in which it was made and also to time when everything wasn’t done with CGI and practical effects were the norm in cinema. There is a whole different array of exploding heads and melting bodies to keep horror fans happy throughout the film and it is just a joy to see the different ways in which The Stuff moves around the screen and interacts with its surroundings. That isn’t to say that the whole film is just filled with horrific scenes of huge gelatinous blobs attacking people from the inside out, far from it. There are some rather funny moments throughout the film and it really gives the whole piece a rounded feel, that the horror can be broken up with some humorous one liners such as; “Everybody has to eat shaving cream once in a while”.

Included in this new release is a 50 minute documentary that invites writer and director Larry Cohen to talk about the reason he made the film, and it gives a wonderful insight into the fact that he just didn’t want to make a usual horror film; he actually wanted to make a comment on society at the time and isn’t that what all great horror films do? They make us take a step back at look at what is going on in society and question how we are living our lives, after they have finished scaring us of course. The producer of the film takes this idea one step further and says he doesn’t even feel the film is a horror, although he does struggle to find a genre to fit it in. Alongside the documentary is a gorgeously produced booklet that contains an essay from Joel Harley which focusses on the topic of how food and horror films goes together and he manages to reference everything from Rope to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Poultrygeist. It certainly does make for an interesting read.

Whilst The Stuff may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly has enough fans to warrant this new re-issue and I’m sure a lot of fans are going to be very happy to have this updated version in their collections. I know I certainly am. To find a copy of The Stuff for yourself, you can find it on the Arrow Films website, here

Maniac – Review

Maniac Poster

To a whole generation, Elijah Wood is Frodo Baggins, but since his departure from the Lord of the Rings franchise he done quite a bit to distance himself form this role and to spread his acting wings with a variety of different jobs. The most shocking, other than his brief cameo in Sin City as Kevin, and my personal favourite (after his appearance in Back to the Future 2) is the character of Frank in the 2013 film, Maniac.

Maniac is remake of the 1980 film of the same name, which I apologise that I have not seen, so I cannot comment on how the remake fairs compared to original; but the remake, to me personally is utter brilliance.

Watch our for *SPOILERS* in the upcoming plot description!

The story follows mannequin restorer, Frank, who ends up befriending artist, Anna, who takes in interest in his work as she wants to use his mannequins for an upcoming art show that she has. Little does she know that Frank is not as nice and quiet as she originally thinks. Frank has had a very troubled past due to his relationship with his mother (isn’t that how all disturbed killers start?!) and takes it upon himself to fill his life with other women. Although instead of just wining and dining them and taking them home after a night out, he likes to scalp his victims and place their scalps on on some of his restored mannequins. He talks to the various women in his life and treats them like his actual partner, until he realises that Anna is the one for him and she is going to take the place of all the other victims. He wants to take her home to meet his mother, which isn’t as easy as it sounds!

Whilst it could sound like Maniac is just your run of the mill remake of an 80s horror film, much like a lot of the cinematic offerings from the horror genre these days, you will be mistaken. Maniac uses first person shooting to bring the audience into the mind of Frank and give us a very unique perspective on the events that unfold. Elijah Wood narrates over the top of film, so we are given not only a visual from Frank’s point of view, but also what is going on in his head at the time as well. It almost seems like an insanely dark version of Peep Show. Some may not enjoy this style of filming, but I personally felt it brought so much to the film, and allowed it to have a lot more freedom, because the audience is drawn in on such a personal level with Frank.

The script was adapted by Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur who have previously written Switchblade Romance and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. If you are familiar with either of these movies then you will know that you are in good hands when it comes to this movie. Franck Khalfoun was the director and his previously worked the pair on other projects, including being an actor in Switchblade Romance.

Here is the opening 6 minutes of the film, to see if it peaks your interest!

Return to Sleepaway Camp – Review

return to sleepaway camp

Now it can be safe to say that not many people may have heard of the 1983 cult classic, Sleepaway Camp, which is a crying shame because it really does deserve more credit than it gets within the cannon of great of horror films of the 80s. People did think it was popular enough for a few sequels though, and it managed to spawn another two offerings in 88 and 89, although these two never really lived up to the expectations of the original installment. Whilst they worked as stand alone horror movies, they didn’t really fit in with the preceding film. Fans wanted something more, and in 2008 their prayers were finally answered. I have to say that I came into the Sleepaway Camp franchise quite late on in life, but when I discovered them I had to sit and watch them all back to back. For me personally, the original movie ranks slightly higher than Friday 13th in terms of a movie within the slasher at a camp site genre.

Robert Hiltzik, the man behind the original Sleepaway Camp once again took on the writing and directing duties for Return to Sleepaway Camp, which unlike Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3, was a direct sequel to the original film.

The opening of the film gives a quick overview of what happened in the first movie to just refresh the story in the mind of the audience, seeing as how it had been 25 years between the first and fourth movie. The basic premise of the movie is that one of the camp councilors from the original film has gone into business again to open up a new camp site for the summer, but when one of the kids starts to get bullied by the other campers, people start to die in some rather gruesome ways. Now, because Hiltzik had managed to recruit some of the original actors from the first film, there is a nice sense of closure within the franchise and things have come full circle. It also means that the characters, especially Ronnie,  who has returned from the first film as a partner in the camp site, have an air of paranoia that Angela has returned. Angela  was the teenage killer from the first movie (if you haven’t seen the original Sleepaway Camp I am not going to give too much away because the ending is just brilliant and contains one of the creepiest images I have ever seen in a horror movie. It has stayed with me since the day I saw it) and Ronnie thinks she has come back once again to kill off the campers. Others think this can’t be case, as Angela is locked away in a mental institution.

Much to the delight of fans of the original movie, Angela’s cousin Ricky also makes a comeback, as he is questioned by the local police about the possibility of Angela being the camp killer once again. Ricky is certain that Angela  can’t be involved as he often goes to visit her in her mental facility.

The movie tries to keep you guessing about who the killer is, and tries to signpost that bullied camper Alan is the one they should be looking for. The majority of the campers seem to think that he is one behind everything, as a way of retribution for everyone picking on him. It isn’t until the last few minutes that the real killer is actually unmasked. It really couldn’t have been a proper Sleepaway Camp movie without the inclusion of Angela, and without any real explanation of how she escaped, it turns out that she has been in disguise as the police all along. For me it was great see to main character from the original included once again.

I understand that Sleepaway Camp and by default Return to Sleepaway Camp are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those that enjoy cheesy 80s horror films, they certainly need to be part of your collection!