Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bafflingly Brilliant B-Movies

Forget the summer blockbusters with their slick special effects and inane cliched one-liners, and instead help nurture a far more entertaining industry which is far more in need of your pennies than Orange Wednesday at your local multiplex. I am of course talking about the wonderfully twee and baffling world of the B-Movie, available in bargain bins at a 99p store near you!

So why go to the cinema this summer, when for the price of a popcorn kernel and an ice cube you can instead get to delight in some of these gems? So here we have it, a list of the most bafflingly brilliant B-Movies ever released straight to VHS/DVD. Enjoy!

The Ninja Terminator (1985)
Director: Godfrey Ho
Starring: Richard Harrison and Jack Lam

This is the film which started my love affair with the B-Movie. A few years ago my brother found this gem in a bargain bin for the princely sum of 99p, some people may argue that this is far too much to pay for this movie, especially as the entire production cost seems to have been managed on a budget of 86p. Yet the 20 or so times I have watched The Ninja Terminator is a testament to just how eye-wateringly brilliant it is.

Unfortunately for you, The Ninja Terminator is one of those films that when asked to describe, I find myself incapable of doing so: where on earth do you start? The fact that the main baddie inexplicably wears a blonde women's wig throughout the entire movie, only to rip it off dramatically at the end as though we are meant to be astonished that this hopelessly synthetic looking, peroxide blonde bob is not his own hair. Or perhaps, that the ninjas played by fair haired, blue eyed, put-the-cauc-in-caucasian men are made to appear more Chinese by wearing enough black eye-liner to make even Avril Lavigne appear au-naturel. Then there is the phone used by the main protagonist in all his most threatening 'secret ninja' dealings, somehow losing any semblance of thrill or suspense once you realise that he is using a Garfield phone. Not to mention the utterly brilliant method that the baddies use to deliver their most evil and terrifying threats, by attaching VHS tapes to the cheapest, slowest and smallest toy robot the Taiwanese have ever produced.

All in all this is a film which defies description, it has everything for everyone (including a wonderful porn scene involving some Pink Floyd and a hairy-arm pitted, Hong Kong lovely). So buy this movie, enjoy it late at night with some brandy or after hitting a bowl or two and it will seem even better!
But don't just take my word for it:

weirdfish_hw wrote on IMDB:
"This is the most fantastically spectacular movie i have ever seen...well well well worth a viewing, and repeat viewings, if only to try and figure out the following conundrums: 1. Why does the villain wear a blonde woman's wig? 2. Why does the ninja attack a man with several guns with a slingshot + folded piece of paper? 3. Why does he have a Garfield phone??? 4. Crabs???!! 5. HARRY and BARRY the ninjas????????and a camouflage ninja-suit?(genius)"

Hard Rock Zombies
Director: Krishna Shah
Starring: E.J Curse

Movies don't come more baffling than the self proclaimed 'comedy horror cult classic', Hard Rock Zombies. Having spent twenty years of my life completely unaware of this masterpiece, I stumbled across it hidden behind a stack of middle of the road 'You've got mail' and 'Home Alone 12' DVDs at my local Co-Op. I recall paying a fairly ludicrous £8 for it, which despite being told by a friend "I can't believe you spent £8 on that!" I have no regrets whatsoever.

This wonderfully low budget film somehow left me with the feeling that I spent an hour and a half watching one of Otto's (bus driver from The Simpsons) bad acid trips. It was as though all that was awful and yet brilliant about 80s hair metal had barfed up radio active waste and Krishna Shah molded that vomit like clay, into a cast for his terrifying vision. It is impossible to do justice to this film by summarising the plot, especially as doing so would ruin the jaw-dropping twist in the middle of the film which invariably leaves people pounding their fists into the arms of their chair and dribbling with laughter. So I will only whet your appetite by telling you that involves a Nazi-midget-zombie eating himself, a terrible homage to Psycho's shower scene, a couple being chased by a psychopath with a garden strimmer, full performances from a Zombie rock band and a dubious relationship between the bass player/lead singer of the band and a 12 year old girl named Cassie.

But don't just take my word for it:
jenwilly on IMDB
"I don't know what they were thinking when they made this movie, but I can say that there are no movies quite like it out there. It was one of those movies you can't turn away from,like a car wreck on the freeway that you are compelled to look at even though you know how horrible it will be. I have to see this movie again, and luckily it is available as a 3-movie set along with NOTLD and something called Revolt of the Zombies for like $6 at Walmart."

Killer Shrews (1962)
Director: Ray Kellogg
Starring: James Best, Ingrid Goude

Unfortunately, I must confess that I haven't seen this movie in its entirety. This is something I hope to rectify in the coming months. Yet, in terms of trailers which have left an impression on me this one deserves its place in my top 5. Yes, there are thousands of films like this from the 1950s and 60s littering the B-Movie graveyard. Yet of all the ones I have seen, nothing has struck me as profoundly less terrifying and more hilarious than the thought of 'Killer Shrews.' One character mentions that the shrews are the size of a fully grown wolf, which of course has nothing to do with the fact that the shrews in this film are nothing more than dogs dressed up in costumes which resemble a cross between crude, precursors to the Sand People and lobsters. With dog legs clearly visible under their sand people/lobster costumes they run through the woods chasing their unlucky victims relieving them of their sanity with their hideous shrieking cry.

Go on I challenge you to watch this and ever manage to go near a hedgerow again without feeling apprehensive!

But don't just take my word for it: (I didn't watch it after all.)

Apparently none other than the horror-fiction messiah Stephen King cited this movie as one of the most terrifying ever made. You can't get a better endorsement than that!

The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: David Hess and Annie Belle

It's been a while since I've indulged in this guilty pleasure and therefore with only trailers and reviews to jog my memory it is difficult for me to relive that night, when I sat there agog at the absurdity unfolding before my very eyes. Needless to say, the first chortle is at the expense of poor Italian-English translation skills of whichever lack-wit they left in charge of making the trailer. 'House Of The Park On The Edge' isn't quite the title I think they were going for. Of course it sounds much more elegant in Italian (La Casa Sperduta nel Parco), but then most things do. Yet, unfortunately a turd by any other name will smell as shitty. From the depths of my memory I recall a laughably absurd cast of characters, finding themselves in increasingly bizaare situations accompanied to woefully inappropriate disco music. The only other scenes memorable enough to lodge themselves in my cranium, included a couple being tied to a coffee table, an unexplained naked romp in the shower and a character being shoved into the pool for reasons I can't quite remember. It is the ultimate 'party-gone-wrong' movie and will leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth and feeling somewhat violated (like most of the female characters in this film).

But once again, don't just take my word for it:
Graham on imdb
"I cannot pretend to defend the shakey moral foundations that this film rests on; that said I love the rather thin output of Ruggero Deodato. This is sloppy, like all of the Italian sleaze directors U.S films are (particularily Umberto Lenzi), but it has a sleazy charm despite all the chicks being no more than rape magnets. Gotta love David Hess' acting work from this period too; the guy is, um, unique looking, to put it kindly. Check out his website, he takes himself soo-oo seriously; do all actors think they're artists?

Braindead (1993)
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Timothy Balme

Few who have seen this film will dispute its reputation as the goriest film ever made. It is an unbridled splatterfest of a magnitude which is incomprehensible unless you have ever seen this film or witnessed an explosion in a blender factory filled with haemophiliacs. Few of those cuddly, middle-of-the-road types who know and love Peter Jackson only for his faithful directorial work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, know him for his earlier bat-shit insane yet just as brilliant work in Braindead and Badtaste. I am a firm believer for some reason that Kiwi's just do things better: lamb, musical comedy, extreme sports, environmental policies and of course, the gory horror movie. So if ever you have wanted to see a zombie baby, a woman eat her own ear, a man consumed by his own giant zombie mothers womb and about 500 zombies all massacred in about 10 minutes in the bloodiest ways imaginable then by all means don't hesitate, watch this film. Just maybe eat that pepperoni pizza beforehand, don't want to spoil your appetite...

Best line :
"I kick ass for the Lord!"

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The not-so-good life

It's time someone set you aside and told you a horrible, crushing truth that might unfortunately spoil your morning cup of tea, but it's ok because it had gone a bit cold anyway and the milk smelt a bit off. It is just an unpleasant fact for people like me that working adults, whether they've been to university or not themselves, hate students.

To them, we are the bottom feeding, slugs of society. They sit in their florescent offices brooding and imagining us subsisting on baked beans on toast, watching The Jeremy Kyle Show and spending our afternoons enjoying discounted activities all in the decadent pursuit of getting an education.

It is my experience, that upon asking for any kind of student discount or NHS freebie, I am met with the the sour, disapproving stare of someone who was raised solely on a diet of lemons and Harribo Tangfastics.

You want an NUS discount?

Well, I'm sorry I only have 50p a week to live off and would like some assistance living above the poverty level. Maybe you never went to university and instead straight into the satisfying and challenging world of retail management and secretarial work. Or maybe you did go to university back in the heady days before you had to chop off both limbs and deposit them in a box with 'TUITION FEES' hastily scribbled on it, before you could even so much as attend a lecture. Well in which case you never had to attend university as a financial amputee, with the knowledge that the only way to ever recover your limbs would be to work with a ball and chain around your neck for the next 50 years. In fact, I wish this wasn't only a metaphor, perhaps people would have a bit more sympathy for students if we were literally missing an arm and a leg.

Students are essentially glorified beggars, and begging would be a lot easier if I didn't have these damned limbs!

Also, hands up, working men and women: how many of you are secretly pleased that graduates are finding it impossible to find work in this current economic crisis? Come on, how many of you are rubbing your hands with smug glee? "Oh, you poor dears, you can't get a job. Oh, how terrible!" Yeah, my smooth, cellulite-free-arse do you care! Driving to work every morning all you can think about as you smugly hum along to inane pop songs on the radio, is how glad you are that no baby-face, middle class upstart is going to get that promotion ahead of you. Those of you who left school at fifteen and a half with more illegitimate children than GCSEs and are now bossing around shelf-stackers with an undeserved sense of accomplishment, are so glad they never wasted their time and money on further education. Oh, what suckers we are!

layabout scum!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Hilariously Unintentional Moral Dilemmas in Childrens Films

I’ve been told I over analyse films, but sometimes it has to be done otherwise people just accept blatantly ridiculous things. Just because these films are aimed at the unquestioning masses, to be pumped via television screens into the pure, unblemished minds of children, there is a belief that as long as the film contains some kind of moral to it, no matter how garbled and utterly ridiculous the message is, then it doesn't matter. It is a wonder that as adults we stumble along and manage to make do with our minds which have been warped into unthinking machines by the horribly ill thought out choices made by our childhood heroes.

Mary Poppins

We shall start with Mary Poppins, a beloved, exploration into the luridly coloured, cockney populated, clean streets of what Disney interpreted to be Edwardian London. There are many questions which I subconciously ask myself whilst watching this film, but more often than not the first one which springs to mind is: What the hell? First of all, what is Mary Poppins? She flew in on an umbrella, can make objects fly around the room, make chalk drawings come alive, and no one questions this? Oh, she’s just Mary Poppins, she can do that. No, well I’m sorry that’s not good enough, I want answers. Furthermore, the boat house across the road that blasts off a canon which makes the whole house shake every hour to the extent that everyone occupying the house has to run around like madmen to make sure the furniture doesn’t fall over. Why do the characters accept this as well? The first few times that happened I would be banging down the door of that boat house and say ‘excuse me, it seems your boat house is emitting loud noises which make my house shake violently, it’s very disruptive, would you mind awfully if you could stop firing a canon every hour in the middle of a residential area?’ Then if it kept going, I would have a for sale sign outside my house and I would frickin' move. These people are morons, I just can’t fathom why would you put up with this?

So what did this teach us as children?
When a peculiar stranger arrives at your house with mysterious, unexplained powers and promising to make all your dreams come true, you must invite her in without hesitation and entrust her to look after your children. She is probably not a con-artist/she-demon. Also, when dealing with neighbours, tolerance is a virtue; no matter how much they make your life a living hell with their boat horn.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Then of course there is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the brilliant childrens book by the late Roald Dahl. Yes, Dahl wasn't exactly known as a shining paragon of morality, his books more often than not dealt with fantastic worlds and nonsensical beasts. Yet, brilliant as the movie version is, I can't help but notice the glaring injustice towards poor Charlies mother and the outright laziness of Charlies grandad. What a lazy bastard. He lay in bed for the best part of ten years, watching Charlie’s mother toil all day long, and then at the prospect of being shown round a chocolate factory he just springs right out of bed. “What’s that Charlie? You’re going to a chocolate factory? Jesus Christ, you mean something good actually happened to this crappy family? Well, you know I can actually walk I just chose not to. But for all the chocolate I can eat. Well Jesus, I’ll even do a song and dance montage for you.” And no one questions this. Now, if I was Charlie’s mum I’d be thinking ‘What the hell? You lazy sod, you’ve been lying in bed for ten years. I’ve been working my arse off and singing terrible, miserable songs when all along you could walk??? Maybe I wanted to go to that chocolate factory. Maybe I wanted a day off from toiling away in that laundry. But no, you can walk now? Oh well that’s just fantastic? Can any of the rest of you walk as well?”

So, what did this teach us as children?
Now this is one I really took to heart, that it is ok to be shockingly lazy and watch everyone else do the work whilst you lie in bed, because one day you will be rewarded by getting the chance to visit a chocolate factory. Whereas, if you are stupid enough to toil away all day, then guess what? You'll still be sweating and toiling whilst everyone else gets to visit a goddamn chocolate factory.

Beauty and the Beast

Then there’s beauty and the beast. Ok, I understand the beast was a bastard, he left that old lady out in the cold and his very being was cursed yada yada. But surely this witch was even worse, she turned all his servants into furniture, now what did they have to do with it? Talk about going too far. Seriously, if I was working at that castle I’d be onto the accursed domestic servant union right away. I wouldn’t take that crap. But the servants are all just like ‘ahh well, looks like I’m going to be furniture for the next hundred years or so. FML.’ If my boss, did something which resulted in me having to possibly spend eternity as a tea cup, I would not be happy. I would not be serving him food, I would not be tending to his every need. If anything I would go out of my way to make life as uncomfortable as possible for him, ‘so, what are you going to do? Smash me? I don’t care, in fact I want you to smash me. I would love you to smash me, it’s better than spending the rest of eternity as a frickin tea cup. Do you know the last time I had sex? No, neither do I. Seeing as I no longer have any genitalia instead I just get molested by a horny candle stick. Thanks a lot.” Then there’s the opening scene with Belle wandering through town reading a book, and everyone singing about how peculiar she is, for reading a book. Right. So they feel the need to collectively compose a song about how strange she is, because she reads books. Well all I can say is that I grew up in Milton Keynes and I know exactly how that one feels.

What this taught us as children:

Don't read books in public or the whole town will burst into elaborate musical numbers about how 'peculiar' you are. Oh, and also don't work for a shit boss or you'll spend the rest of eternity as his furniture...hmm, maybe that is the only good message in all of this.

People who do DIY before 9am

To loosely quote the great Stuart Griffin 'It's not that I want them to die, I just don't want them to live anymore.' That is precisely how I feel about this collection of people, who I am unfortunately reminded at random intervals that I share a planet with. It's easy to forget, after all being a student I am often blissfully asleep until noon and then either immersed in books/TV/video games/porn during the day time. Once evening rolls around I am normally blind, staggering drunk, and coming across the other people I share oxygen with is done in a wonderful, drunken haze where I remember none of their irritating features the next morning. Yet there are occasions where this system is sadly broken and I come across these people with a heart-breaking plummet into the filthy, dick-ridden reality of life.

This is the first in the series of people who have committed the inexcusable crime of being irksome.

haha! I can operate six tools at once with my many arms. Try and sleep now motherfucker!

I don't know why I find this so peculiarly annoying, oh wait, silly me I've just gone and told an utter barefaced lie. I know exactly why I find this so mind-exfoliatingly irritating. It is, because like a lot of people with nothing better to do, I like to sleep in the morning. I have no children screaming at me to make them gruel (or whatever it is the kids are eating nowadays), I have no job to rush out to, no hobbies which require me to set out in the dark and no great desire to watch the serene pink and yellow glow of the sunrise unless it's on my Planet Earth box set. Not to mention, when your life is as utterly devoid of goals or excitement as mine is and you realise each morning with a teary-eyed sigh that you have just lived the best years of your life, well then dreaming is just about the only activity I enjoy. And, after years of fastidious research I can tell you with authority that the best dreams occur in the morning. So then, to be woken up from my peaceful slumber in a blissful chocolate coated fantasy land, to the sound of a pisswad using a pneumatic drill slowly chiselling away what is left of my gingerbread cottage, well I get slightly and understandably pissy.

nooooo....not the Gingerbread house!!!!!

Try as I might, I just cannot fathom any reason for it. What is so dream-destroyingly urgent that you must manhandle heavy, noisy and smelly tools and machinery outside my window? Is anyone going to die if you don't fix that shelving unit in your dining room before 9am? If you manage to finish mowing your lawn before breakfast time are you going to discover the cure for cancer? No. Of course not, there are many, many more hours of the day in which to piss me off and at those times I will be well and truly immersed in some other noise making activity of my own and so won't give half a toss about your whiny Black and Decker drill. Just give me the morning, please. Those leaves on your driveway aren't going to multiply out of control just because you decided to sit down and have an extra slice of toast instead of blow the shit out of them with a glorified hair dryer. So, please I beg of you, it can wait. By hammer and nails and chocolate coated, rivers of fudge sauce, it can wait.


Just a few words and phrases I’m very bored of:

Global warming


Swine Flu

Binge Drinking


Teen Pregnancy

The internet (and all associated slang)

Pentapeptides/pro-tensium/bullshit chemicals associated with the beauty industry



Cancer is caused by…

Ho-hum, another day another media induced public hysteria.

Everything annoys me, and the problem is I'm not the kind of person who knows what to do about it, and in the ever lasting cycle of things which are annoying...that annoys me too.

I hate being a target market, and existing in a world where my thoughts aren't important because everyone, every single person on this earth is told that their thoughts are important and then you have to strive to be heard amongst the roar of humanity just telling us what they think or want to sell you.

No one listens to each other, no one understands each other because each conversation is just another opportunity to ram your thoughts and ideas down someone else’s throat. And you can listen...you can pretend to, at least for a while but then you just get the urge to get up on a soap-box and go on www.me_me_me.com to write about stuff that isn't really important but you don't know what else to do with your time since they took away factory work and books.

And then you get people who listen to you, but they just don't get you. And you realise you can scream your thoughts out until your lungs implode and you get given numerous ASBO's but the people who you want to hear you never will. So why bother.

There is only one world, and 6 billion people and rising inhabiting it....you do the maths, this world is never going to satisfy everyone. And the laws of pretty much everything are completely against you having everything you want.

I hate films and the media taking away my personal ideologies and making them their own, they were my own private little world and now you get an audience of morons trying to interpret it with inappropriate quotes and endless devotion. What happened to those little sacred what-if's that you have to yourself as you try to understand the world? The next thing you know that little what-if is a box-office hit starring some rail-thin model and some egotistical shit who lives in a mansion in Beverley Hills.

I'll be driving around in my car, watching the fumes belching out of the car in front of me wondering why I'm not out there exercising. Why don't we cycle everywhere like they do in other countries, or ride horses across vast landscapes like the heroes of old? Well no. I'm stuck in a P reg Nissan Micra, wondering what it feels like to have the wind in my hair.

Sometimes I just want to smash things as well, or I don't know go somewhere, where living means living. Not this homogenised, sanitised bull shit we call life. No wonder everyone invents problems nowadays or spend hours on Myspace, it’s because everyone is so fucking bored. And not just a little bit bored; really, really bored. So bored that the thought of making it to ninety fills you with dread.

You know making it to 80-90 years old, really used to mean something. It meant you'd survived wars, plagues, famines and everything else life threw at you. Now it just means you've managed to survive whatever drugs and chemicals they pump you full of and that you didn't get too bored along the way. Because boredom is the most dangerous thing of all…

Boredom = chavs on the streets so bored that vandalism seems an acceptable use of time, people eating themselves to obesity, people ignoring other people as though they are nothing more than ghosts on the streets, people inventing problems and spending hours watching TV and playing video games. Hell, I'm guilty too.

But the thing is, they've got us into this state that’s really easy to control. Apathy. It's easily the worst thing that’s happened to man kind, we've stopped caring. What do we have to fight for when we have everything we want?
And the apathy means that even the causes which deserve our attention are pushed to the back of our minds whilst we stuff our faces with junk food and watch reality TV shows. Is it really surprising that the words 'cause' and 'issue' have become the most irritating couple of words in the English language? We have come to associate them with smug pricks who bother us at work, on the streets and increasingly in our own homes with their irritating slogans and self-satisfied demeanours.

"Come on, mate. It's for a good cause!"

"This is one of the biggest issues affecting the world today."

They are the self proclaimed, modern day Christ figures who have come to warn us devil-scum people of the error of our ways. And yet, the greatest irony of all is that no matter how many signatures, pennies or pocket-fluff they collect, they will never change a damn thing more than you have by just sitting on your arse.

And no matter what it is that you care about in this life, it’s not going to mean a single thing to anyone unless it's attached to money/power/sex and that is the human condition. So read this if you want, try and understand if you feel so inclined but at the end of the day it doesn't amount to anything.

They're just words....words in a world flooded by them.