Monday, 31 August 2015

Cheapo DVD Reiew: Ninja Zombies (2011)

 "Dameon, a young slacker geek, begins having nightmare - flashes from the life of a samurai and a sword that could raise the dead. When undead ninjas start attacking his friends, he discovers that the samurai was his ancestor, the sword is real, and he is the only one who cane save the world from a Ninja Zombie Apocalypse.
Featuring a hilarious performance by Lloyd Kaufman ("Toxic Avenger" & Troma President)"

Ninja Zombies should have been fun. 

  It describes itself as "Shaun Of The Dead Meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer"  and while I thought that was probably aiming a bit too high, I was still expecting an hour or so's entertainment.

  Even if Ninja Zombies failed as a NinZomCom, I might still get an "Alien vs Ninja" style parade of cheese and quality stupid. 
 Wrong on both counts. Ninja zombies isn't a fun ride, nor is it an entertaining trainwreck - more like getting stuck outside Milton Keynes for 3 hours because of a signal failure.   

 The basic idea is decent, but the execution is sadly lacking. One of the perils of 21st Century DVD buying is that anybody with a working knowledge of graphics can whip up a decent cover. Making a film  requires a little more, sadly.  

 More money would have been a good start. Ninja Zombies is so low-budget it's painful and comes across like somebody got his mates together to make a film one weekend.
 There's the other big problem. The acting is strictly "Youtube short" standard and not enough to carry a full film. I do feel bad saying that because somewhere out there is a group of people who put a lot of effort into this but at the end of the day, I really struggled with the film and that's not how it's supposed to work. 

 There's a few hints at what could have been - some of the lines are reasonably witty but not witty enough.

As for the cameo by Lloyd Kaufman, he was trying to make up for everybody else's flat delivery by hamming it up like Jim Carrey on speed so that goes about as well as you'd expect. 

 How much did I pay for this: £1
Was it worth it?  No. Ninja Zombies is not even close to living up to the promise of the title. Fact is, this film is dull.  Avoid.

  But then it gets really odd. After an hour or so of boredom, the credits feature a music video that is actually kinda entertaining. Check it out.  

That's all folk

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Cheapo DVD Review: The Giant Killer (2013)

Just to avoid any future confusion, this is not the one with a two-headed Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and a proper budget. That would be "Jack The Giant Slayer"

 This is "Jack The Giant Killer" which has none of those.

You know what else it doesn't have?  Giants!

Things That Annoyed Me About This Movie #1
 If I'm watching a film called "Jack The Giant Killer" I feel it's not unreasonable to expect giants to appear at some point. Instead, once our redheaded hero arrives at the top of the beanstalk, he's casually informed that a previous visitor killed all the giants. 
 For the sake of fairness  I suppose I should point out what the blurb on the back says 

"A giant beanstalk brings Jack to a land in the clouds filled with snarling, evil beasts. When the creatures make their way to the ground, Jack must figure out how to get back down before they destroy the earth (sic) and everyone in it."

 Creatures yes. No mention of what those creatures might be.  

  By the way, you never do get to find out what the hell the creatures are called. They're big, mean and look like somebody glued together bits of three separate dinosaurs then got carried away with the eyes.

 I think we can all agree that while you could describe these...Triocularankylocertatopsauruses giant. they are not the giants associated with the traditional story. 
 And yes, that is a landrover in the bottom right hand corner. Which leads me to...

  Things That Annoyed Me About This Movie #2
 I can admire The Asylum for taking a chance and shifting  Jack The Giant Killer  out of medieval times and it's also nice that they resisted the urge to reset the movie in California but it does leave me with one burning question.
When the frig is this thing set? 
Going by the clothes and the vehicles, I'd say 1960s but then the Army arrive.
At which point every single Brit watching the film went "Bloody hell!. Dad's Army!" because that gear is pure WW2.  Which leads me to:

   Things That Annoyed Me About This Movie #3
You have big monsters running around a city - unspecified but probably Northern -
 and the force the United Kingdom musters for its defence is this:
An upper class twit stereotype and not enough men to fill a Transit Van. 

I know the Asylum are famous for their low budgets and no doubt shipping a crew over to Blighty ate into that but this was the best they could manage for the crucial action scenes? 

Wouldn't a couple of tanks have been useful right about now?

A machine gun, even? 

The Home Guard army does have one of these. 
A railgun that's obviously part of somebody's trainset. 
Plastic cows just out of shot.

Speaking of  shoddy armourers

 Things That Annoyed Me About This Movie #4
Something was bugging me about our plucky squaddies and it wasn't until I got a good close up that I realised why.
That's a Russian Kalashnikov. The guy next to him is using a 1940s Thompson. 

Oi, Asylum!
You didn't even try to get the guns right, did you? 

You just didn't try, full stop.  

Things That Annoyed Me About This Movie #5
 Even by Asylum standards, this film is just sloppy and half-hearted. The annoying part is that there are some nice ideas.  
 A major plot point is that our hero is looking for his dad so when he arrives up top, guess who he runs into? 

  "Hang on" you can hear the youngster thinking. "There's no way you're old enough to be my dad. WTF?"
except this is set in 1960whatever so it wouldn't have been "WTF?". More like "What the bloody hell?"

There's a neat explanation about that: time moves a lot faster in the land of the clouds. But once mentioned, everybody hurriedly forgets about it, because that would have made timing tricky for the rest of the film. 

Then there's the flying castle.
Which comes in handy when our gang need to get back down to earth in one piece.  
But I did think this was an idea that could have been saved for a better movie. 

I mentioned that there weren't any giants left. 
There is a witch. though.
Serena. Played by Jane March who is mainly famous for getting her kit off in several films back in the 1990s. I'm assuming she lives locally. Or, given Asylum casting policy, that Kim Wilde was too busy.   

 Serena wants to take her beasties back to earth and do some high-quality venting on everybody and everything. Sounds like a decent plot. 
 Problem is, Serena comes across as being way too pleasant to actually want to destroy the earth and may just be in need of a bit of company and affection. Certainly, once the monsters run amok, she switches sides quickly enough. 

Actually Jane March is, believe it or not, one of the better things in this movie. Give the gal credit for trying.
 "OK Jane. Get up on this rocking horse and pretend to be riding a dinosaur." 
"I was once in a film with Bruce Willis. How is this my life?" 

The other big name is Ben Cross. (Chariots of Fire) who may not have Jane's cheekbones but does get to pull this face:

  Most of the rest of the cast are also trying their best but are badly let down by some of the bit-players, who would be considered hammy in a Sunderland amateur panto. 
And the props department who thought nobody would notice.
And the special effects department for the Asylum so I suppose you have to cut them some slack. 
All of these people are supposed to be looking at the same thing. 

But most of all, the writers, who couldn't be arsed. 

Still don't believe me?

At the climax of the film, Jack brings out what he's been toying with in his shed.

A mech suit. 
Hang on...when was this film set again?   That's a bit advanced, isn't it?

But it does mean we have the prospect of a mech vs dinosaur fight and that's going to be awesome right?

Remember what movie you're watching. 
The climax is half-assed and over in about three frigging minutes.

Which sums up this film in a nutshell.  

Jack The Giant Killer is a quick, shoddy, half-hearted cash in that fails to deliver the small amount that it promises.  

How much did I pay for this? 75p. 
Was it worth it? I can't say that it was. Unless you are a diehard Jane March fan (or have a peculiar desire to see what Ben Cross is doing these days), avoid.

Since I have a couple of Serena screenshots left over, here you go. 
 If all else fails, she could get a job with Scottish Widows. 

No trailer this time. I resent the effort it would take to find it. 

That's all folks. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Cheapo DVD Review: Morning Star Warrior (2014)

  The back cover blurb bears very little resemblence to the film I just watched so I'm not going to waste my time posting it, or insult your intelligence by expecting you to read it.
 What's really weird is that there's about 3 different blurbs for this floating about the net and none of them match up to each other or the actual sodding film. I smell a big rat.

Whatever. On with the writeup.

 When I originally picked this up I was looking for something with minimal effort required on my part and I must admit, while seeing "In The Name Of The King"  emblazoned on the DVD cover would make sensible filmbuffs run away screaming, I immediately thought "Well, I sort of enjoyed that film, let's check this out."
 . I wasn't looking for anything resembling quality cinema - just some cheesy fantasy fun with a decent bit of violence and hopefully some boobs.

 "Morning Star Warrior" does have some punchups, It even starts with some reenactors hacking each other about a battle. And there's some boobs show up about halfway through.

But when it comes to "Fun", I really, really got the wrong film here.

Our hero wakes up on a battlefield, discovers his best mate among the fallen and resolves to take his body home. Along the way he encounters various people. Some he talks to. Sometimes he kills them. Sometimes he just has visions instead.
 The whole thing is very slow-moving and a bit dreamlike. More so once you get the sudden reset halfway through.
Then you get to the ending which is just strange. 

If you want a comparison, I'd suggest some of the spacier Arthurian films - "Gawain And The Green Knight", The Grail Quest bits of "Excalibur". That whole sense that the journey wasn't just getting from A to B but significant in itself. But done in a hamfisted manner.

 I honestly could not work out what the hell I was watching, or indeed whether it was any good or not.

I do know that the minimal dialogue was stiff,  clunky, wannabe "Deep, man" nonsense.

I also know that I found myself watching the whole thing, waiting for it to click. It never did but there I was, curiously fascinated and bewildered at the same time. .

How much did I pay for this: £2.50
Was it worth it: "Morning Star Warrior" is one of the more unusual things I've seen lately, although "Unusual" is not the same thing as "Good" Approach with great caution. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Heavy Metal Cover Girls...With Hair Like Fire

 When the time comes for me to do one of these HMCG posts I normally pick the theme one of two ways.

Either I find a really striking cover and think "Hmm. Have I got any more like his?" or I pick a cover at random and then wing it from there.
 Today's selection is definitely from category A. Which makes sense because when it comes to a room full of beautiful women, certain things are guaranteed to make some stand out more than others.

Today we're looking at Cover Girls with a definite something about them that draws the eye.  Also the only women on the planet ever going to use the phrase "My eyes are down here."

The first band up are going to surprise nobody.

Epica - We Will Take You With Us (Netherlands 2004)

 The unfeasibly gorgeous Simone Simons summons you. 

Epica - The Divine Conspiracy (Netherlands 2007)

album art gorgeous redhead

Credit to: DeathDealer92

Another redhaired Dutch beauty next. 

Delain - April Rain (Netherlands 2009)

You wonder why the rest of the band even showed up for the photoshoot. 

Sons Of Seasons - Gods of Vermin (Germany 2009)

I often wonder how the cover artist can look at the band name, look at the album title ...then come up with something like this for the cover.
 I honestly can't see the connection. 

Then you look at this publicity pic from 2009.
That's Simone Simons making a guest appearance.
Since she's a lot more photogenic than the actual band, somebody used her instead. 
That's cheating, in my book.  

There is an alternative cover 

Suggests a very different band, doesn't it?

These guys are an interesting Power/Prog crew with a definite resemblance to Kamelot .
Not surprising since the two bands share keyboardist Oliver Palotai. Male vocalist, by the way.

Credit to: Aryss Black

The Rinn - Chains That Bind Me (Single)(Russia 2015)

Not bound very tightly, clearly.

Credit to: Unknown Power Metal YT.

They also do a really good version of Moonlight Shadow too.

PS. if anybody from The Rinn happens to be reading this:
1. I like what I've heard.
2. Can you confirm who your singer is these days?
You've got two different women listed as vocalist on different sites and it's doing my head in.

Sticking with Russian bands

The Arrow - Lady Nite Russian 2008)

OK, so that's a really cool pose and all.
Now watch where you;re going or this could end badly.

Music is a bit of an acquired taste. See what you think.

Credit to: eckado melodic power metal

To finish, a cover that's iconic for all sorts of reasons, mostly wrong.

Warrant - Cherry Pie (USA 1990)

They didn't use a redhead in the equally iconic video. I find this vaguely disappointing.

Credit to: WarrantVevo

That's all folks. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

500 posts.

 This is a milestone I never seriously expected to reach.

 I started this blog in December 2011 as somewhere where I could talk about things that interested me - books, comics, films, whatever - without people backing away nervously.  Maybe I'd add some pithy social commentary along the way. 

  Like most bloggers I had high hopes that I'd get hundreds of pageviews daily and my own adoring fanbase but realistically, I was pleasantly surprised that people were actually reading what I wrote. 

  Almost immediately the blog veered off into directions I hadn't foreseen. Me vaguely wondering how many Metal songs I could find that had Metal in the title resulted in this blog becoming the internet's biggest collection of  Meta Metal songs.  1200 songs and counting
  Another idle moment flicking through my music folder made me realise how many metal album covers were apparently drawn by somebody using  a pencil taped to their nose. When I ran out of the ones I had, I went looking for more only to find that there's an awful lot of album covers featuring beautiful women in impractical clothing. So I started posting those instead. 

  I was honestly expecting to write more book reviews that I have. Considering how much I read, I'm amazed that my list of book reviews is so tiny.  Same with manga/anime. I don't write about those anywhere near as much as I thought I would.

I have, however, watched enough low-budget sci-fi/horror movies to make a sane man beg for mercy and can confidently report that there are way too many supid shark movies out there. I saw the trailer for 3-Headed Shark Attack last night. 

God help me. I think I'm going to end up watching it. 

I do this so you don't have to. 

 So by way of celebration, I'm going to revisit some of this blog's greatest hits. 

My most popular post.  Yet More Womens Wrestling Pics

 I admit it, I'm a big fan of womens wrestling. clearly I'm not alone. 

The Post I'm Most Proud Of: The Dog Who Loved Apples
The most personal thing I've ever written. 

The post I wish more people knew about: Big D attempts to explain Heavy Metal Genres 

Since writing this there's been (approximately) another 178 sub-genres invented and I still have no frigging idea what Djent is. 

The film review I put the most effort into: Sand Sharks

The Best songs I found via The Metal Project. Ten Of The Best

My Favourite Album covers that feature Women With Swords Album Covers And Warrior Women

Let me know what you liked and maybe I can do more of it. See you in another 4 years for post #1000.  

PS. I'm not kidding about "3 Headed Shark Attack". Here's the trailer

Oh dear.

That's all folks. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cheapo DVD Review: Northmen - A Viking Saga (2014)

"Northern Europe, 873 AD. banished from their homeland, a gang of Vikings find themselves exiled and shipwrecked off the Coast of Scotland. As they venture deep within enemy territory, their on,y chance of survival is to cut a bl;oody path through anyone who gets in their way!"

  Between the Thor movies and the Vikings TV series there's been a definite revival of interest in all things Norse lately. Sitting here, counting on my fingers, I reckon I've seen at least nine films starring hairy men with axes in the last few years.  And they generally all into two categories.
- straight up historical adventure or fantasy with monsters & magic and stuff.

  "Northmen" is firmly in category one, so no werewolves, curses or dragons. Now I've said that, I really ought to add that "Northmen" is more "Adventure" than historical.
 When it comes to an accurate record of Dark Age weapons and armour  then this is only marginally better than "King Arthur".
  You know, the one that everybody remembers for two reasons - Keira Knightley as a Pictish warrior princess, and loads of historians laughing their heads off.

 The Vikings aren't that bad, if overkeen on black leather,  but apparently 9th century Scotland was about 4 centuries ahead of the rest of the world when it came to building castles and 9th century Romanian mercenaries were wearing stylish black steel full plate armour.
I'm no expert but that seems a bit off to me. And why are Romanians fighting for a Scots king anyway?

 Luckily this is not enough to fatally derail the film and if you aren't an awkward, nitpicking old sod like me, you most likely won't care.

  Something else I'm going to mention is the DVD artwork.

Normally I start foaming at the mouth at this point but just for a change "Northmen" has a cover that represents the contents with some accuracy. However, there is a second version around and here it is.

   This one is a little brighter and cheerier and, crucially, features somebody absent from the other version who is very, very important to the plot.

Have you spotted them?

Here's a clue: she's wearing pink.

Now let's get on to what I thought about the film itself.  And it isn't bad.

I can't really describe Northmen as my favourite Viking film but it's one of the best I've seen lately.
The story is quite simple.
 Vikings arrive in Scotland. Vikings pick a fight. Vikings find an unattended pretty girl. Vikings spend the rest of the film running from the people who want the girl back.

 You know how this sort of thing goes. Our harried heroes hustle across the landscape, giving plenty of opportunity to show off how pretty it all is, while their numbers dwindle and internal tensions bubble under.
 So it is here. Nothing terribly original, although the ass-kicking monk they collect along the way was a novel touch.
   What made "Northmen" enjoyable for me was that heroic Viking Asbjorn and his crew are surprisingly easy to root for, what with being pirates and all, with decently developed characters playing off each other in a way which makes it easy to invest in their well-being.
 The bad guys are swaggering, sneering psychos so it's pretty easy to hate their guts.  Their faceless mooks all have skulls on their helmets, just to make sure everybody knows they aren't people to cheer for.

Acting: Mostly on the high end of decent. A bit hammy from certain people but it fits the role so whatever.

Violence: Quite a bit, which should surprise nobody, and quite well done. Everybody gets a chance to have their cool moment and the director does a pretty good job of showing the action.

Pacing: Fast enough to keep things moving along with a pause every now and again to let us get to know these guys.

Highlights: The opening storm. Warrior-monk Conall making his first appearance. Some nifty fights. A bit of demolition. More nifty fights.

How much did I pay for this? £2.50
Was it worth it?  Definitely. "Northmen" isn't my favourite Viking film but it's one of the best I've seen lately and it kept my interest all the way through. On a Sunday morning that's all I really want from a DVD.

So if you fancy 93 minutes watching men with appallingly groomed hair and beards fighting their way across the Highlands, "Northmen" may be what you're looking for.

Trailer here;

That's all folks. 
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