Unforgiven (2014)

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In the good ol’ vagabond days of yesteryear, the Power House was the best place in Hollywood to throw darts and get drunk on the cheap while enjoying the company of a cross section of LA society. Here I could drink until 2 AM before crawling into the back of my van/home where I’d then either pass out or write until daybreak, whichever urge struck me first.

Most nights during this 2-year period have blurred into a single memory, indistinguishable from one another, but one stands out. It was a cold November evening, midweek, not long before midnight, when an attractive young couple emerged from the crowd. Japanese, recently married and just arrived in Los Angeles for their honeymoon, the groom wore a black cowboy hat, black leather waistcoat, black Levi jeans, black cowboy boots, black leather belt with a giant silver eagle buckle. On either side of his skinny hips was a gun holster, black, of course, and fastened shut. He couldn’t have been a day older than 22. Standing in near silhouette, cloaked in the low-hanging fog of cigarette smoke, he wordlessly snapped open the holsters to reveal three shiny, stainless steel darts. Amid laughter and friendly goading, we bought a congratulatory round of PBR for the couple, dropped a few quarters into the machine and, with Bob Dylan blaring from the jukebox, we went toe-to-toe in a game of Cricket… where he promptly bombed me like I was Pearl Harbor. It was a monumental beatdown, polished off with a polite tip of his cap before this silent stranger in black and his missus disappeared into the crowd and into legend. It was some of the craziest shit I’d ever seen, but it got me thinking – what’s the deal with Japanese cowboys?

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It’s early 2014 and I’m loitering in a small, warm room in London’s ICA for the premiere of the Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s classic western Unforgiven. This is the Pan-Asia Film Festival 2014 launch, and the turnout is good and the room is packed with journalists and businesspeople. There is a palpable enthusiasm that I had not yet experienced at a screening in London, and the drinks and hors d’oeuvres were free and bountiful so the night was off to a good start. I’d been informed that Unforgiven’s director, Sang-il Lee, would be available to field a few questions beforehand which got me thinking about that night in the Power House, about the curious connection between the Hollywood westerns and Japanese culture, about Seven Samuari and The Magnificient Seven, about Cowboy Bebop, about Sukiyaki Western Django, about Kill Bill. But mostly I was curious about what, exactly, might influence that nice, quiet young couple to dress up in their finest cowboy attire and fly to LA just to thoroughly embarrass me in front of my countrymen. I’m not above admitting that I still want revenge. But I hadn’t had a chance to organise this mess of thoughts when we were informed that director Lee would no longer be taking individual questions. That’s probably for the best, really.

So now the film. We’re in Japan, on the northern island of Hokkaido, the year is 1880 or thereabouts, just a few short years since Japan had seen the Meiji Revolution change the empire from a feudal state to an imperialist power. The last remaining samurai warriors have gone into hiding. The new government, run by the privileged Wa tribe, wants to open up the land for development but the indigenous Ainu people aren’t so keen on that idea. The times, they are a-changin’.

Played by Koichi Sato, who does an admirable job stepping into the muddy boots originally worn by the masterful Gene Hackman, Ichizo Oishi is the new sheriff of a small border town. He’s charismatic and well liked but vicious and cunning. When a couple of settlers go ape-shit with a knife on the face of beautiful young prostitute Natsume (Shiori Kutsuna), he gives the men a slap on the wrist and sends them on their merry way.

Naturally, the whores don’t take kindly to this lack of justice and they put a bounty on the settlers. This forces the sheriff and his men into high-alert mode and soon enough ex-samurai warriors emerge from the woodwork to collect some heads and a quick bit of cash. Little do they know that this is a really stupid idea, as sheriff Ichizo is one psychopathic fucker who doesn’t take much of a shinin’ to their kind. One of these bounty hunters, Masaharu (Jun Kunimura) saunters into the whorehouse with his biographer Yasaburo (Kenichi Takito) in tow. The sheriff takes note and levels an asswhoopin’ on the older man and, with his foe dying in the street, Ichizo convinces the writer to stick around town for a bit.

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, there is a dilapidated shack on a hill near the coast. In it lives Clint East—uh, Ken Watanabe – and his two young daughters. Ken plays ex-samurai Jubee Kamata, who was once a fierce warrior with a reputation for being a wee bit crazy. But that was a lifetime ago. Now he is just a humble farmer, father, and widower. His hut isn’t much to sneeze at – if you did, you’d probably knock it down – but it’s his nonetheless, and it’s peaceful and it’s where he wants to raise his daughters.

All that is fine and dandy but you know it’s not going to last, and soon enough in rides ol’ samurai pal Kingo Baba (Akira Emoto) with rumour that a gaggle of whores is offering a hefty fee for the two knife-happy idiots. Not particularly keen on the idea of returning to a life of violence, Jubee informs Kingo that he’d vowed to his dead wife that he’d never kill again. So on Kingo moves without him, but realizing that half the bounty would go a long way towards a better future for his daughters, Jubee strikes out to find his friend. Jubee’s kids are, like, 5 and 7, so leaving them alone for an extended period of time was a bit of a risky move, but I suppose those were simpler times.

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Jubee and Kingo ride together and on their way they’re met by a young Ainu freedom fighter named Goro (Yuya Yagira) who provides both the wholly unnecessary wacky comic relief and the over the top melodramatic tears. Goro is out for some kind of revenge and claims to have killed several men. He’s a liar and a coward, but still the three team up and agree to share the bounty.

For the next half hour or so there’s a bit of a lull in the action as we delve into some character development stuff, which is all fine and good but doesn’t make for an entertaining review. It is probably also worth noting that, due to my day job as a rockstar, I was a bit exhausted and closed my eyes for a minute or two. Anyway, somewhere along the line there was a strange sequence where Jubee is suddenly taken violently ill when confronting the sheriff for the first time. Ichizo tosses Jubee out on his ass and demands he stay away. Yasaburo, the biographer, is intrigued as the sheriff reveals that Jubee was once the most vicious motherfucker in the land, who’d even slaughtered a group of women and children without batting an eye, but who is now, sadly, just an empty shell of his former bad-ass self.

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Jubee survives his bout of sickness and our heroes catch up to, and ambush, the settlers in a vicious little scene involving dead horses and broken, protruding femurs. Jubee acknowledges that he’s done bad things but claims the rumour of the women- and children-slaughtering isn’t true. Our trio breaks apart as Kingo, ashamed by his own diminished killing skills, wanders off into the sunset. As Jubee and Goro return to town to collect their bounty they discover Kingo’s body hanging from a post – a fair enough warning for all bounty hunters to stay the hell away. But instead, this angers Jubee, which is not a good idea if you like staying alive.

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Ashamed that he broke his vow, Jubee sends scarred whore Natsume and manic-depressive Goro away with the cash and leave him to his fate. The new couple head for Jubee’s hut where they presumably will adopt his daughters and live rich and happily ever after away from all this violence and bloodshed and dishonour.

Alone now, as was always his destiny, samurai killer turned humble farmer turned bounty hunter Jubee squares off against sheriff Ichizo and, oh, a dozen or 15 gun- and katana-wielding lawmen. With the biographer and prostitutes watching from the rafters, this battle results in a lot of bloodshed and the whorehouse burning to the ground. As the last man standing, Jubee strikes off into the night. The end.

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This version of Unforgiven was at its best when playing it straight. The hijinks (particularly those provided by Goro) and a dozen or so overly self-aware moments spoiled the serious tone. For example, the camera movement and the score during the fight in the street between sheriff Ichizo and ex-samurai warrior Masaharu was done in a way that one couldn’t help but think about The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. A great reference, sure, but if not for these moments constantly taking me out of the movie, I’d’ve really enjoyed it.

Ken Watanabe doesn’t have the gravitas of Clint Eastwood, but you can’t fault him for trying. His scowl and sneer are good enough to get by, and as with the rest of the movie he’s at his best when he’s not trying to emulate the source material. That said, the acting across the board was solid – even Goro, as annoying as his character could be, had many good moments. The production design was immaculate – the grit under the nails and the attention to detail in the costumes was fantastic. Sato as the sadistic sheriff was a treat, and oh my god the cinematography was beautiful – where’d they find all this space to film these beautiful vista shots?! The final shot of the whorehouse on fire was incredible. So there’s a lot to like about this movie, but the constant tonal shifting was a bad choice. Also, I found it interesting and slightly disappointing that a movie based on the premise that violence begets violence would reserve the harshest gore for the baddies when the whores and the heroes receive mostly superficial wounds, or their injuries were hidden from plain sight. (The slicing of Natsume’s face, for example, as horrible as it was, paled in comparison to the broken leg of the fleeing settler, despite being much more significant to the movie.)

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I didn’t rewatch the original as I wanted to go into this version with a clean slate but there were several sequences that stood out to me as memorable so I’m guessing they kept it pretty close. However I think this film might have benefitted from a more ambiguous ending – say, once Jubee has killed the sheriff, he turns to take on the lawmen but instead of killing them one by one in a cool-but-wholly-unrealistic way, we instead simply fade to black. Violence begets violence, it really doesn’t matter who wins.

There was one directorial choice that I loved. That was that throughout the first half of the movie Jubee is slightly hidden from view, whether in shadows or in profile, until at one point he is questioned by his companions about killing the women and children. They need to know if he’s a sadistic killer or if this is just a rumour to scare his enemies. Seeing him clearly for the first time – and remaining clearly visible for the remainder of the movie – says to me that Jubee has stepped out of the lie he’d constructed around him, the lie of family, of being a farmer, of dying peacefully. This could never be who he is, no matter how much he’d like it to be true. By revealing himself, Jubee embraces the fact that he is a born killer and he’ll remain that regardless of any vow. Jubee tells his friends that the rumours are lies, and the audience is meant to believe he is telling us the truth, but in the final scene when he spares the life of the biographer, Jubee orders him to write what he saw happen but to leave out any mention of the whore and the Ainu warrior – and in his eyes I saw a man who could, once upon a time, kill innocent women and children if ordered to do so. A man who has tried to deny his true self, and who has come to forgive himself by shouldering the blame of this deadly fiasco. He can’t undo his terrible past but he can allow his friends and his children to live a better future with him.

Alex Cassun

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‘The Last American Virgin’ (1982) review

Cult Israeli coming-of-age film Lemon Popsicle gets its Western remake released to a new generation as The Last American Virgin is now available on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in the UK. Heartache, embarrassment, competition and friendship all set to tunes of the 80s, American Virgin is your predictable teen movie fare, but still manages to find ways to charm its audience.

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Three friends (played by Lawrence Monoson, Joe Rubbo and Steve Antin) find out growing up is, of course, not easy as they navigate their way through an array of sexual encounters, drugs, parties, school and friendly rivalries. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, or since, but still manages to be effective thanks to its cast, mainly Lawrence as sensitive lead Gary and Diane Franklin as the object of affection Karen, and its depiction of the consequences of casual unprotected sex and the ‘glamour’ of paid sex. Other than that, it’s your typical teenage experience staples, although by the time the end scene rolls on I defy many to not feel a slight pang of sadness in mutual feeling.

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Credit where credit is due, Arrow have put some excellent and extensive interviews together as part of the extras side of the home release package. There’s a real in-depth and personal feature with director Boaz Davidson who discusses in detail the process of updating and translating his Israeli original for a new audience, the production of American Virgin itself and his personal experiences that went on to influence the films. Also quite fun to watch are the two interviews with leads Lawrence Monoson and Diane Franklin who open up about the film, its affect on their careers and the cult appeal that surrounds the 80s picture. All rather frank and honest, it’s refreshing to hear those involved wax lyrical about their work with no boundaries or sugar-coating.  A worthy release of a good, if not dated, feature that’s worth picking up.

Thor: The Dark World review

Another month, another Marvel movie. Funny how quickly one can get jaded to incredible characters carrying out unbelievable feats of heroism and daring. Still, of all the comic heroes brought to the cinema screen by Marvel Studios so far, Thor seems the most unlikely candidate for a movie, let alone a sequel. Even as a comic-obsessed kid, the character always seemed dull and ridiculous to me; the naff costume, the cod-Shakespearian dialogue, the endless Norse mythological waffle, so at odds with Marvel’s more grounded, street-level creations.

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So how do you turn Thor into a film franchise? Not having seen the first instalment, I have no idea how this compares, but apparently by aping Mike Hodges’ bombastic Flash Gordon (albeit with the camp factor heavily dialled down). A bizarre hodge-podge of science fiction and swords and sorcery? Check. Tacky, wacky production design? Check. Stolid blond hero? Check. A roll-call of English thesps hamming it in supporting roles? Check.  (The only thing missing is the Queen soundtrack,sadly.)

Is it as much of a guilty pleasure? Not really. Admittedly Marvel have this kind of thing down to a fairly fine art by now, and the preview audience I saw it with laughed and applauded in all the places that a marketing exec might hope a preview audience would. And there are some decent gags along the way; most likely added via an uncredited script polish by Joss Whedon (nothing to compare with the ‘puny god’ moment from The Avengers, but doubtless he’s saving his best material for the sequel). There are also some less decent gags involving Stellan Skarsgard losing his trousers every five minutes that might have been the result of an additional polish by legendary English farcester Ray Cooney, but maybe everyone else was busy on the Captain America sequel.

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However, it all feels so familiar. With over 50 years of comics history to draw upon, why does every Marvel movie seemingly revolve around a villain discovering yet another Device That Will End The Universe and ripping a big hole in the sky? What originally gave Marvel comics their edge was the fact that these were superheroes who had the same problems as the rest of us; meeting girls, passing exams, paying their rent on time. Yes, there were massive fights and thrilling heroics and awesome spectacle, but it was all rooted in whether Peter Parker was going to get a date, or if the Fantastic Four were going to be evicted from the Baxter Building because Doctor Doom smashed all the windows. Thor gets some mileage from the fact that the titular character is apparently two years late for his date with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, but beyond that the only interest in actual humanity it shows is in a secondary romantic subplot that seems lifted from a bad (is there any other kind?) Richard Curtis film.

There is fun to be had around the margins, with colourful supporting turns from Kat Dennings, Rene Russo and the ever-reliable Tom Hiddleston as Loki. But Chris Hemsworth’s Thor does nothing but play dutifully dull straight man, Anthony Hopkins makes yet another payment on his pension plan, Natalie Portman must be wondering how she stumbled into another boring girlfriend part after the horrors of the Star Wars prequels, and poor Christopher Eccleston has possibly the most thankless role of his career as the villain Malekith, unrecognisable under prosthetics and saddled with sub-Tolkien Elvish dialogue to spout dramatically at every turn. Seriously, Hiddleston’s Loki isn’t even the villain in this film, so how does he still get all the scene-stealing lines and moments whilst Eccleston gets nothing but subtitled exposition and a 7-foot tall CGI henchman?

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No doubt Thor: The Dark World will go on to make several hundred million dollars and pave the way for yet another bout of fraternal squabbling with his badly behaved sibling (the last scene is a shameless sequel hook, and the credits offer a Bond-style promise that ‘Thor will return’). But as much as Marvel undoubtedly know their market, it does feel as though familiarity will soon give way to contempt, and that it could be time to start ringing some changes and taking a few risks with their undoubtedly rich stable of characters. Otherwise Ragnarok might be coming around a lot sooner than the company accountants would hope.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

Poor Evelyn has a history as ridiculous as it’s plot, and at times as hard to follow, but unfairly neglected and often resigned to the “50 Greatest Horror Films for a £1” DVD collections, with shoddy transfers, it’s overlooked and forgotten. A film that takes some time and appreciation to properly enjoy. You sip it slow and allow it’s insanity to take you where it wants to go.

When you are staring down the winding tale that is Evelyn, you require someone who can tackle a beast, and the captain of the good ship Satanic Pandemonium, kindly stepped up to the challenge. 

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

by Samm Deighan of Satanic Pandemonium

Emilio Miraglia, 1971

Starring: Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Erika Blanc

La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba aka The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is the first giallo film from director Emilio Miraglia. Though lesser known alongside giallo greats like Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, and Umberto Lenzi, Miraglia’s first film will likely delight giallo lovers but probably confuse the hell out of everyone else.

An English lord, Alan, was recently released from a mental hospital after a breakdown over his wife Evelyn’s death. His obsession with Evelyn has not abated and he spends his time trolling bars and clubs looking for red headed women that resemble his wife to come home to his isolated castle and spend the night. But these trysts all result in torture and murder. He has to pay off his wife’s brother, the groundskeeper, to keep silent and attempts a seance that summons Evelyn’s ghost but results in another minor collapse. His doctor convinces him he should marry again and he meets the blonde Gladys. For a time he is happy with her, but Evelyn’s ghost begins to appear around the castle and drives Alan back to the brink of insanity. Gladys finds Evelyn’s tomb empty and strange murders begin to occur around the castle. Is Evelyn back to take her revenge on Alan?

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is an entertaining blend of genres and presents a series of intertwining murder mysteries constantly folding and unfolding upon themselves. With that said, the winding plot is far from perfect and will likely confuse giallo newbies. While the genre in general isn’t known for its linear or rational plots, Evelyn is something else entirely. Some scenes drag on too long, where as others cut away without fully explaining events. Though there are many beautiful set pieces, the film is a little choppy and the plot doesn’t really care about making much sense. If you’ve seen a lot of giallo films, this isn’t going to interfere with your enjoyment of the film too much.

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Part of the confusion is due to the fact that Miraglia blends a number of genres together. This begins as a fairly routine Euro-horror serial killer film a la The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962), Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), or even the ridiculous Night of a Thousand Cats (1972), where a series of beautiful women are whisked away to a castle or mansion to be murdered. It rapidly turns into a ghost story with the seance and sightings of Evelyn’s ghost around the castle. The plot eventually morphs into a more giallo-like construction and picks up some genre tropes along the way, including twist after twist after twist.

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If you have the patience for it, the bizarre story is actually in the film’s favor and there aren’t a lot of other gialli with the sheer number of fun twists. Though there are some murders early on, courtesy of Alan, things don’t really kick off till the second half of the film. Evelyn isn’t particularly gory, but includes such unexpected deaths as a woman being fed to a cage full of prized foxes. There are some lovely, surreal visuals with plenty of shots of semi-nude women running through graveyards and one great scene where a stripper, played by the lovely Erika Blanc, rises from a coffin to begin her macabre striptease act. And let’s not forget the wacky ending that involves a swimming pool full of acid.

Unlike other genre directors, Emilio Miraglia for some reason did not make a lot of giallo films even though he started fairly early – Evelyn came out the same year as one of Dario Argento’s earliest films, The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971). As with Mario Bava’s Baron Blood (1972), this is a mix of giallo tropes and Gothic horror, set in a menacing castle in the woods complete with a mouldering crypt and a torture chamber. It also borrows from Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon, as both films center around insane protagonists who murder women because of complicated relationship with their wives, who may or may not be dead and who possibly linger in the form of malignant spirits.

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The uneven cast makes it difficult to really sympathize with anyone and, unlike the films of Dario Argento or Sergio Martino, Evelyn lacks a charismatic protagonist. Part of the problem is that we are simply unsure who to trust. Spaghetti western regular Anthony Steffen does a decent job as Alan, though it’s difficult to rise above a character that is depicted as insane for much of the film. Marina Malfatti (All the Colors of the Dark, Miraglia’s other giallo The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, and more) is icy and reserved, but looks beautiful whether she is screaming in terror or plotting diabolically. She also wears increasingly racy lingerie and is barely clothed for much of the film. The cast is rounded out by Enzo Tarascio (The Conformist) as Alan’s conniving cousin, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (The Last Man on Earth) as his psychiatrist, and Erika Blanc (Kill Baby, Kill) as a particularly memorable victim.

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Overall The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is recommended for giallo lovers or at least seasoned Italian horror fans. The film is available uncut on DVD from Eclectic or in the Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen box set with The Red Queen Kills Seven Times.

It is also screening on Halloween at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave will conclude a day full of horror related talks with film historian Jonathan Rigby, film genre programmer Josh Saco, Professor Peter Hutchings, Associate Professor Ian Olney, and Dr Antonio Lázaro-Reboll.

Sharknado – The Spinning Terror

Brendan tried to avoid the treacherous waters, but no luck, they came to land to find him.  

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Jaws is correctly revered as a classic of the disaster/horror movie genre and rightly credited as the first high concept blockbuster movie. Jaws’ singular premise – a giant monster shark – that neatly translated into one single marketing image, and transformed the way in which films were made and sold in Hollywood to this day.

No one who was certifiably sane would say that Sharknado is destined to have the same homunculus impact on the world of modern filmmaking. However, it is undoubtedly a high concept project (sharks meet tornadoes), it is undoubtedly a disaster film and it has undoubtedly achieved a new and very modern type of success with contemporary audiences.

After amassing several million views on YouTube for it’s trailer, Sharknado’s premier on the Syfy channel accomplished something unprecedented for a made for TV movie by becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Websites and blogs have since collated the best and most amusing of Sharknado’s tweets, while the wave of social media interest in the film secured a limited US theatrical run, again another first for a “Syfy original film”.

Sharknado is a slick example of how low budget filmmaking can leverage social media platforms to generate positive word of mouth and reach new, incremental audiences. The problem for some critics with Sharknado, however, is the nature of the film itself.

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The premise of Sharknado doesn’t require much in the way of thought or explanation. A waterspout brings all manner of man eating sharks in-land to downtown LA, where they wreak all kind of havoc on an assorted cast of b-movie actors. Interestingly this ensemble includes the semi-credible presence of John Heard, he of The Sopranos (Ed: or for our purposes – Cutter’s Way, CHUD and Cat People etc)  and other far more legitimate screen roles. One can only assume John badly needs a paycheck right now.

It is willfully silly, escapist nonsense that pays homage to a host of cheesy pop culture references. The issue and where Sharknado proves to be so divisive, is that it is a project that is designed to be mocked. Unlike say the efforts of Ed Wood or Tommy Wiseau or even some of the movies distributed by Lloyd Kaufman, the makers of Sharknado certainly have no artistic hubris about the highfalutin merit of their work.

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That’s not to say Sharknado is a bad film as such. For my sins I actually enjoyed it. Honest. Production values are better than expected, pacing and narrative move quickly enough and among its truly memorable sequences is the sight of Ian Ziering first being swallowed whole by a badly rendered, flying CGI shark only to then see him cut himself out with a chainsaw and simultaneously rescue his love interest (Cassie Scerbo) from inside the same creature! Wow. Intense.

Sharknado is terrible, self consciously cheesy, deliberately camp fun brought to life purely for the commercial gain of the backers and producers at the Syfi channel. It’s safe to say that with Sharknado, the sharks of this film are not just limited to those in front of the camera lens.

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Sharknado is out on 7th October

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Are we there yet…? The Last Exorcism: Part II

The ever daring Brendan Patterson, once again dives into the unknown, braving the twisted demons of The Last Exorcism: Part II.  

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I’ve not seen the original Last Exorcism but in the research that I conducted before settling down to watch its absurdly entitled sequel, I learned that it took a “new” spin on the now hackneyed exorcism sub-genre by using the now hackneyed “found footage” approach to filmmaking.

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Audiences expecting the same for Part 2 are going to be disappointed. The sequel abandons any such similar aesthetic traits, opting for a far more conventional, classic narrative setting and structure. Opening credits notwithstanding, which are melange of home movies, news reports and other gumpf which allude to the first entry in this ongoing movie franchise.

It’s not just the same stylistic composition that the Last Exorcism Part II ejects, however, as for the next 90 minutes any sense of continuity from the original film are gone too. Instead we pick up with sole survivor Nell (Ashley Bell) trying to remember just what in the name of Lord Satan happened in the first film while putting her life back together in some hick town in the US.

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The really bad news for Nell is that Beelzebub (aka Abalam) is back and has all manner of horrid back bending, spine cracking contortionism and general evil soul-sucking possession in mind for her all over again. Plus a few new tricks up his old demonic sleeve.

The interminably dull build up to the satanic denouement of the Last Exorcism Part II includes some especially below par PG13 related scares, even in what is billed as its “uncut extended edition” on home dvd and bluray.

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Obviously I’m taking these out of context but they include: the terror of a talking vacuum cleaner, the sight of Nell being harassed by a living statue performer during a costume ball (yikes!), a trip to the zoo where an irate gorilla flings a tyre in her general direction and a nuisance dog that woofs loudly on her way to work as a chambermaid. Yes things really get that “scaremongus”.

Overall, LEP2 feels distinctly less like The Exorcist or any of the slew of imitators and is more reminiscent of Carnival of Souls where poor, doomed Candace Hilligoss wanders seemingly out of step with the world around her while menaced by sinister dark forces. But whereas Herk Harvey’s 1962 masterpiece had atmosphere in abundance, Last Exorcism Part II feels bland, contrived and ultimately does little to create any emotional empathy for its tortured female protagonist.

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The two things I dislike most about this movie are:

1) It might actually play quite well to some God fearing Americans, somewhere in the Bible Belt who may or may not believe in the efficacy of exorcisms and their own ability and need to perform one on a family member, friend or pet animal

2) The anti-climactic finale where Nell is transmogrified into a possessed Carrie clone while simultaneously paving the way presumably for The Last Exorcism Part 3. Yet another sequel in this franchise? Now that is a truly ridiculous and actually quite frightening proposition.

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Last Exorcism: Part II is out on Monday, 30th September

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