Top 10 John Carpenter Films

Top 10 John Carpenter Films

10. Prince of Darkness

A group of quantum physics students investigate a mysterious cylinder of liquid that has been found in a monastery.

I love this film. As well as having a fantastic cast (Carpenter regular Donald Pleasance returns and is always welcome, but this time we get Alice Cooper and his bunch of the zombie homeless. Both actors are on top form here and are a huge part of why I love this movie). I also love that this film is based on quite an abstract notion: the cylinder is actually Satan in liquid form. I also love the links between the ancient and modern computerised age in the film. Far out, dark as Hell (pun not intended) and a fantastic couple of hours.

667B5F22-7B58-44AE-85FA-E3F81A15DD07

9. They Live

A drifter discovers that sunglasses he had stumbled upon allow him to see who people really are with some people being shown to be aliens who are members of the ruling class. The sunglasses also allow him to see the true meaning behind different kinds of advertising and how they coerce people into conforming and consuming to name but two.

The film made after Prince of Darkness features another terrific cast with wrestling legend Roddy Piper playing the drifter (who doesn’t have a name which suggests that he symbolises a kind of everyman figure) with great support from Keith David (reappearing after his turn in Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982) and Meg Foster. This film refuses to be categorised in any one genre and contains action, horror, sci-fi and comedy and does all of them brilliantly well. This also has one of the best and funniest fight scenes in film history. Roddy is trying to convince Keith David to put on the sunglasses he wears to see what he says. Hilarity ensues.

A brilliant film that is rife with allegories regarding what it says about society and especially American society in the late 80s and Reagan era. They Live also gave birth to a plethora of Film Studies essays and conspiracy theories as to what it all means. In other words, it inspired conversation which is a great thing.

6B9077A4-28D2-4B13-A3F3-6E5145CFC0DD

8. Big Trouble in Little China

Possibly the noisiest film I’ve ever seen. A box office bomb, this was then a huge hit on home video which was another reason why that medium was so fantastic and a breath of fresh air. Kirk Russell plays another brilliantly drawn Carpenter character- truck driver Jack Burton finds himself doing battle with an ancient Chinese sorcerer. He’s a great action hero but also funny as hell (Burton not the sorcerer).

The special effects in Big Trouble in Little China have aged brilliantly well (unlike the CGI in Escape From LA which Carpenter made in the 90s). That this wasn’t a huge hit when shown on the big screen is criminal. It was made to be seen at the cinema. Such are the mysteries of life.

7189680E-194A-4BAB-8590-57B0B7087F98

7. Starman

Jeff Bridges plays an alien who takes on the identity of a Wisconsin man who has just died and kidnaps his widow. Or is it a kidnapping?

There are more questions to be asked about the film and not just its characters. Is Starman a science fiction film or a love story? Both. And it works fantastically as both. Bridges was even nominated for an Oscar for his role. Imagine that- a Carpenter film being lauded by the Academy.

If your heart doesn’t melt during the scene involving the deer, you don’t have a heart. For some reason this movie appears to be playing almost everyday on a different cable channel here in the UK. I’m not complaining.

26CE28A3-7509-482F-BFA6-D978ED179E80

6. Escape From New York

Carpenter’s big set piece movie. New York is now one huge prison which is (supposedly) impossible to escape. Donald Pleasance’s President has crash-landed there after Air Force One has been hijacked and so someone needs to go into New York to rescue him.

Step forward Snake Plissken, one of the best anti-heroes in film history. He was a war hero until he robbed a bank but was caught by the law doing so. If he successfully springs the President from New York, he will be given a Presidential pardon regarding his bank robbery charges and prison sentence.

The sets are magnificent. And we get Isaac Hayes and Lee Van Cleef alongside regulars Russell, Pleasance and Adrienne Barbeau to make for a fantastic cast. Keep an eye out for Russell’s first wife Season Hubley in a small role.

We also get one of the best Carpenter soundtracks ever. All killer, no filler- every track is amazing. Tracks like the title theme and Engulfed Cathedral are amongst some of the best music JC has ever recorded (which is really something as he’s as great a composer and musician as he is a film director).

46A66CA1-FC9B-497C-898B-371942175A8D

5. The Thing

Carpenter’s remake of The Thing From Another World is a rare thing- a remake better than the original. The Thing is a film of pure suspense, has an amazing all-male ensemble cast, peerless direction and genre-defining special effects and designs thanks to Rob Bottin and Mike Ploog. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack is orchestral in places but also discordant and abstract in others and perfectly matches the action. The Thing was hated by critics on its original release but was still a hit at the box office even though the friendlier extraterrestrial of E.T. was bringing in major bucks for Steven Spielberg.

But there’s also a sly strain of humour at play within the film. I guess you could call it gallows humour as events become so surreal and dark that they become blackly humourous.

History judges every movie and The Thing has now taken its place in the vanguard of the very best horror/science fiction films ever made. In fact, whenever there’s a Top 10 Greatest Horror Films list and The Thing isn’t in there, I always think there’s something wrong. The Thing has now been seen as just as good as the very best of Carpenter’s canon alongside bonafide classics such as Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. And rightly so.

29514D68-3FDB-4A87-9A38-F6260CBFCCD0

4. Someone’s Watching Me!

Many people still don’t know about the TV movie Carpenter made just before he started work on Halloween although a Blu-Ray release by Scream Factory has meant that more people can now enjoy this gem. I actually caught it on TV in the mid-80s and then saw it again years later in Australia where I was surprised that it had been released on home video there.

Lauren Hutton proves to be a fantastic lead as her character Leigh, a TV director finds herself being stalked after moving into a high-rise apartment building in Los Angeles. Anonymous disturbing phone calls and strange incidents such as the lights in her apartment dimming of their own accord convince Leigh that, as the title states, someone is watching her. Can Leigh and her friend Sophie (who happens to be a lesbian. I love that this character trait is handled in just a couple of lines of dialogue like it’s really no big deal. If this TV movie was remade today, references to her sexual orientation would be made endlessly and monotonously) find out who this nutjob is?

There is so much suspense within this gem that you won’t have any fingernails left at the end of it. Watch out for the scene where Leigh has to hide under a grate whilst her stalker is stood above her. Also, watch for the scene in which Sophie ventures into the apartment where they think Leigh’s stalker lives whilst Leigh watches proceedings through a telescope.

Not only is Someone’s Watching Me! one of the best TV movies I’ve ever seen, in my humble opinion it’s one of the best entries in Carpenter’s filmography. Yes, it’s that great.

7F68A8BC-39CD-4BC4-9623-9674AC74F213

3. The Fog

I remember seeing the poster for The Fog outside my local cinema in 1980 as we drove past in the family car. I was 5 years old. The poster alone was enough to give me nightmares. It would be a good few years until I got to see the film on home video and I absolutely loved it. I also remember when I was at university watching it on my portable TV (the screen was just a bit bigger than a postage stamp) as it was being shown on TV. I was snug in bed as a thunderstorm roared outside my window. It’s funny the film viewings that stick in your memory as some of the best.

Antonio Bay’s centenary is ruined as zombie leper pirates take their revenge for wrongs done to them when the town was founded. A cracking cast (Jamie Lee Curtis is fresh from Halloween and stars with her real-life mom Janet Leigh along with John Houseman, Hal Holbrook and Tom ‘The Man’ Atkins) is complimented by Dean Cundey’s usual gorgeous photography, a great screenplay (the dialogue between Janet Leigh and her assistant played by Nancy Loomis is hilariously funny) and one of JC’s best soundtracks- electro baroque and music that actually sounds like the fog is a living, breathing and malignant entity.

With the film’s release date looming, Carpenter saw an early cut and decided that it didn’t work. And so he wrote new, nastier scenes and shot them very quickly. The Fog still met it’s release date. These new scenes were nastier in tone and more graphic because Carpenter and producer Debra Hill felt that Cronenberg’s Scanners which had just been released had upped the ante when it came to what horror fans expected from their fare. It certainly worked. The Fog is a terrific film.

0EE367BE-B355-4A97-BEA0-15A679ACCF3B

2. Assault on Precinct 13

The skeleton staff at a local police station that is closing down find that they are under siege by a local gang who have declared a ‘cholo’ (which means ‘to the death’) after the police killed several of their brethren. But all of this is after three death row prisoners are put into cells in the station as they have to stop over so one of the prisoners can receive medical assistance on their way to the state prison. One of these criminals is the notorious Napoleon Wilson. Police and criminals have to combine forces to make sure they all make it through the night and fight off the gang’s advances.

Assault was inspired by Rio Bravo directed by JC’s hero Howard Hawks and Night of the Living Dead. The character of Leigh is a classic strong Hawksian woman and the gang members do resemble the zombies surrounding the farmhouse in Night. The dialogue for Assault is definitely pure Hawks in places but also pure Carpenter. Napoleon Wilson is a classic Carpenter anti-hero just as Snake Plissken is. He also has great chemistry with Leigh who finally provides him with the cigarette that he keeps asking other characters for throughout the film’s course. She even has a light too. Check out what happens when she lights his cigarette for him. It might as well be post-coital.

Assault is a perfect film. Carpenter’s direction and framing are extraordinary. Check out how he takes advantage of the aspect ratio he uses for the film (2:35:1 if you’re interested). Exemplary performances bring Carpenter’s fantastic characters to life. I love how there is so much that is kept from the audience who are left to come up with their own theories. It’s almost like Carpenter warrants us with a modicum of intelligence. How did Napoleon Wilson get his name? (My own interpretation- watch him break the gang member’s arm. Napoleon had one arm and so maybe this is one of his favourite moves). What did Ethan Bishop carve into the desk as a child that he whispers to Leigh but we’re not privy to? These characters have a backstory and history which isn’t overshared and overanalysed. I love that.

Assault also has one of the greatest soundtracks ever composed. If you think you don’t know it, you’ll know it when you hear it. It’s well known in its original form but has also been sampled extensively. It’s a minimalist masterpiece and is perfect for the film.

And if all of this isn’t enough, the film also contains one of the most shocking scenes in cinema history. The ‘girl with the ice cream’ scene came to the attention of the MPAA who ordered that Carpenter excise some or all of this scene to reduce its shock value. As was the practice of the day, especially with low-budget productions, he simply told the board that he had complied with their stipulations but he didn’t and the film was released with the scene still intact.

A4B4F714-CBBB-40C8-B1C3-C0FCA39D525A

1. Halloween

What can I say about my second favourite film of all time? (Taxi Driver occupies the top spot if you’re interested). I first watched Halloween in a format that was the exact opposite of how it was made to be watched. I watched it in a faded pan and scan print. And it still worked its magic!

After killing his sister in 1963, Micheal Myers escapes from his mental hospital some years later and heads home to try and kill Laurie Strode and anyone else who gets in his way.

A critic wrote that ‘Halloween is to horror as sugar is to gratification’. This is spot-on. When I first saw the film in 1987 even though it was a sub-optimal print the film still worked brilliantly and I found that it stayed with me and had a haunting quality (pun not intended). A big part of that is the music score. There’s a story that Carpenter tells in which he showed Halloween without the music to studio bosses as the score hadn’t been recorded yet. They all told him after the screening that his film was pretty good. He then showed them Halloween but with the iconic score in place. Everyone raved that he had made a masterpiece. Music is so important for a film especially if you have a classic score like the sinister piano and synth score that is Halloween. It’s irregular time signature is off-kilter and completely unsettling. In the early reels of the film it’s the sound of impending doom. When death comes to Haddonfield, it’s the perfect soundtrack to the carnage.

Shooting the film in Panavision was also an important ingredient to the film’s haunting quality. The images linger with you and Jamie Lee Curtis’ androgynous face in close-up as shot through the cinematic prism of Panavision is iconic as is the rest of the film. The fact that the locales for the film are suburban and not in some castle in Transylvania meant that the horror was everywhere and in surroundings that audiences were familiar with. Some of the horrific action within the film also takes place during the day meaning that we aren’t safe at any time of the day or night.

There’s also the realisation within the film that Michael Myers isn’t human and a seemingly unstoppable force of nature that makes the film so memorable and horrific. The scene in which Myers literally springs back to life as Laurie is catching her breath after seemingly killing him is possibly the scariest moment I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Look out for the audience reaction video of this scene on YouTube which was recorded in a cinema during the film’s original release. The audience screams en masse as Michael’s torso mechanically rises up.

Halloween was so iconic that it gave birth to a whole new horror genre- the slasher film. Whilst some slasher films are very good, none of them are as good as the original Halloween. Halloween is a bona fide classic and like The Thing, regularly appears in the lists of the Greatest Horror Films Ever Made. Halloween stands shoulder to shoulder with other iconic horror films such as the Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead and Psycho. And long may it reign.

1B4000B1-6722-49D2-9B70-692DEA864E3C

Advertisement

Review- Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

Review- Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

Whilst excavating for a new Underground station in London, a mysterious artefact is unearthed. Bernard Quatermass is brought in to examine it and identify its origins. What was thought to be an unexploded bomb from World War 2 is, in fact, an alien craft containing insect-like residents of Mars.

QuatermassDoubleBillPoster

I love any film that gets apocalyptic very quickly. After a slowww build-up, we suddenly get the characters and indeed, the whole of London going to hell in a handcart. I kept thinking, ‘See what you’ve done now and just for one more station on the Jubilee Line!’

I also love how this seemingly quite conservative film suddenly becomes all trippy and far out with the discovery of the artefact. Suddenly we have kaleidoscopic visuals and giant locusts. This was way before The Exorcist 2: The Heretic.

This film is beautifully photographed and directed with panache. There’s a fantastic build-up of tension and sometimes the film skirts into the terrain of the truly insane (check out what the ‘strange vibrations’ the artefact gives off does to the characters who are subject to them. Their RADA training was used to great effect for these scenes).

Quatermass and the Pit was written by the brilliant Nigel Kneale who, at one point, wrote the first draft of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. John Carpenter is a big fan of Quatermass and adapted the name when he wrote the screenplay for his film Prince of Darkness.

1351FDF5-52EF-464B-9402-8BBE3B64C1D2

Fun fact- Andrew Keir who plays Quatermass is the father of the fabulous Julie T Wallace of Life and Loves of a She-Devil fame.

Quatermass and the Pit ran with the Christopher Lee film Circus of Fear after its original release in cinemas.

KineWeekly

3.5 stars out of 4

Meathook Cinema Hall of Fame- Alien (1979)

Meathook Cinema Hall of Fame- Alien (1979)

There’s so much I love about 1979’s Alien. This is a film I feel like I’ve grown up with from watching its first TV screening with my Dad when I was about 6, through to renting it on video through to watching it on the big screen either in its original form or it’s excellent Director’s Cut. It was also the first THX film I watched and the first Blu-Ray. It’s been quite a journey.

AlienQuadPoster

The plot goes like this- a mining ship stops off on an unknown planet after receiving an SOS signal (which is, in fact, a warning signal). Whilst exploring this new terrain, an alien life force attaches itself to the helmet of one of the crew members. He and it are brought aboard (against the wishes of Ripley, the crew member who is in charge at that point and who wants quarantine regulations to be adhered to). Ash, another crew member lets them in any way. And so the nightmare begins for the crew and the space vessel.

I love H R Giger’s design of the alien, the spaceship Nostromo and the elephantine Space Jockey that is witnessed on the alien planet. I love the penis-like aspect of these designs, especially the alien as it bursts from John Hurt’s chest and then when it is fully grown. It’s all steel teeth (two sets) and huge curved jelly head. It’s magnificent. As Ash says later ‘I admire its purity’. I agree.

AlienHead

And how it grew! Another aspect of Alien that I love is that the alien really was a man in a suit. In these days of appalling CGI effects, my love of practical effects and *shock horror* real living, breathing adversaries is unswayable. The alien in Alien was played by 6ft 10in (you read that right! He was actually 7ft in the alien suit) Bolaji Badejo. Alien wouldn’t have been scary or real if made in the era of CGI. Period.

Alien is also a film of extremes and contrasts, another aspect of the movie that I love. There are the clean white lines of the Nostromo’s interior as opposed to the noise, wind and turbulence of the alien planet and the dank and dark boiler room noir of the air shafts of the cargo vessel. There’s also the tranquillity of the hypersleep juxtaposed to when the crew are awake again and going about their everyday lives or when they’re confronted by the extraordinary and fighting for their lives. I love these extremes and contrasts as they juxtapose within the film amazingly.

The cast is another reason why I adore Alien. In this present era with its almost incessant need for diversity (whilst certain members of the media narcissistically scream ‘LOOK EVERYONE! WE’RE BEING DIVERSE!’ ), the cast of Alien is very diverse but without it being something that was a major strategy when the film was being cast. We have male, female, black, white, tall (and not just the men) and short. We even have a cat! And a xenomorph. And an android. That’s fantastic diversity right there but with the added bonus that each player contributes massively to the production and makes their mark. This is diversity but it brings talent to the table rather than being merely a demeaning box-ticking exercise.

AlienCastLobbyCard
The true diversity of the Nostromo crew

This ensemble cast is another one of Alien’s trump cards. We don’t know who will survive by the end of the film. Sigourney Weaver wasn’t publicised as any kind of leader of the cast and so her being the survivor really is a big surprise. In fact, Dallas as played by Tom Skeritt is/was the Nostromo’s captain and so it can be presumed that he will be the valiant male lead to be the sole crew member to survive and heroically do battle with the alien. But, as with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the person who we expect to survive until the final reel is cruelly taken from us much sooner. When Dallas is killed in the airshafts whilst trying to track down the alien, there truly is a sense of ‘WTF!’ and a genuine feeling that ANYTHING can happen within the film. Which is great cinema. This is also one of the tensest scenes in a film full of tense scenes. Ridley Scott’s direction is masterful.

My favourite character within the cast (apart from the alien and Jones the cat, obviously) is that of Lambert. She seems to psychically sense that all is not right early on in the film as if she can see into the future and knows that they are in grave danger even though the rest of the crew can’t see it yet. This reminds me of a theory that Carol J Clover writes in her book about slasher movies, Men, Women and Chainsaws. She asserts that within the groups of teens in slasher movies, there is almost always one person, usually female, who is very much attuned to any negative events that will almost certainly befall her and her friends and can foretell that their lives are in grave danger (Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween is a glaring example of this). Lambert very quickly ascertains that they are up shit creek without a paddle and that their chances of survival are minimal at best. This is why we see her as extremely apprehensive very early on.

Jerry Goldsmith’s fantastic soundtrack is another component that is vital to Alien. The eerieness of the events leading up to the alien’s unleashing of menace on the Nostromo and its crew is met with quiet, unsettling music of impending dread and distorted echoes. When the shit hits the fan, this is paralleled with noisy, discordant orchestration that perfectly matches the apocalyptic events we see unfurling on the screen. It is perfect. The soundtrack is just as extreme and schizophrenic as Bernard Herrman’s for Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Taxi Driver.

The ending of Alien is frankly genius and utterly brilliant. I love the fact that Giger’s sets play a role in this vital scene. And if you haven’t seen Alien then please don’t expect me to give away the ending. I would never ruin such a cinematic treat for anyone. If you haven’t seen Alien, I recommend you see it NOW!

Add to this a frankly genius marketing campaign (minimalist trailers full of foreign, disconcerting sounds and fast-moving images and no dialogue whatsoever. It all invokes an utter feeling of dread), a poster and merchandise campaign that was just as intriguing and based around the idea that less really is more and a tagline that would go down as one of the very best in film history (‘In space, no-one can hear you scream’.) Even the tagline would be ripped off, adapted and referenced by taglines used for other films.

But whilst all of this adds to Alien and its legacy and why I love the film, there is one reason more than any other as to why I love Alien so much- it’s two hours of cracking entertainment.

Alien is a masterpiece.

Review- Saturn 3 (1980)

Review- Saturn 3 (1980)

How can a sci-fi project with Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain) directing a cast of Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel and Farrah Fawcett with a script by Martin Amis be so bland? Maybe most sci-fi movies post-Alien were instantly rendered mediocre and middling.

Saturn3QuadPoster

Keitel calls Saturn 3 the nadir of his whole career. I wouldn’t go that far. Whilst it’s far from being some kind of genre classic, it’s far from being a turkey. Keitel plays Captain Benson fleeing to Douglas and Fawcett’s research station on Saturn’s third moon after he murdered one of his colleagues on Earth.

The word ‘quite’ is very appropriate when reviewing this film. It’s quite scary in some scenes (Keitel’s robot helps in this regard), and quite suspenseful in others. The whole film is quite entertaining. If this was a review of Alien I would be substituting the word ‘quite’ for ‘very’. I think that encapsulates Saturn 3. It’s a film you would enjoy if you caught it while channel surfing late at night. I remember when I first saw this film it was on late-night TV in the 80s. I watched it with my Dad. He was eagerly awaiting some nudity from Ms Fawcett but was disappointed when it finally happened. ‘I wait all that time for her to get her breasts out and she has two little nutmegs instead!’ Quite. Maybe this criticism encapsulates the whole film. In the words of the great (!) Simon Cowell, Saturn 3 is ‘distinctly average’.

2 and a half stars out of 5

Poster of the Week- Westworld (1973)

Poster of the Week- Westworld (1973)

This weeks Poster of the Week goes to the classic sci-fi nightmare that is Westworld from 1973.

nr008436-12_1

There are so many brilliant images here that sum up the movie- the iconic image of Brynner’s demented robot gunslinger, the technician sat in front of a bank of monitors and control panels, the technological font used for the film’s title, the tagline that has indeed gone worng…

And whilst we’re at it, take a look at the similarly brilliant posters for the film’s sequel Futureworld, (loving this tagline too) and Westworld’s Japanese and Belgian posters. All gorgeous.

IMG_3092
Possibly the most colourful movie poster ever made. And possibly the best tagline ever too.
westworld-japanese-b3-1
A similarly iconic image used for the Japanese poster
productimage-picture-westworld-5-74105
The pop art genius of the Belgian poster. Green skin is always cool.

31 Days of Halloween- Day 18- Jason X (2001)

31 Days of Halloween- Day 18- Jason X (2001)

This film is basically Jason in Space.

This movie massively divided fans. Some loved the innovation but some hated it to such an extent that they viewed it as the worst in the series. Yes, they even hated it more than Part 5: A New Beginning.

But I loved this movie. I even went to see it a bunch of times during it’s original release.

Theres so much to love. The claustrophobia of the spacecraft, the tongue in cheek humour, the nerdy aspects of the film’s vision (check out the eye operation on Jason and the way that injuries like severed limbs are remedied).

MV5BYjVmYjYwMmEtNWE4Ni00OTgzLTljNjktOWY4YTdjNWJhYjhlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_
A tongue in cheek cameo by David Cronenberg

Theres also an amazing cameo by David Cronenberg thats worth the price of admission alone.

With this installment being based in space theres many nods to satify the most ardant sci-fi fanboys. Least not Lisa Ryder who was a star of Andromeda. Her android character is a great addition to the cast.

Uber Jason is a sight to behold! And check out the liquid nitrogen kill. It’s one of the best in the whole series.

MV5BY2IxNWY4NTktYzgwNi00MzZmLWJlZWMtYWJjYjU1ZDNhM2NlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_
Liquid nitrogen kills

Highly recommended. File as ‘underrated’.

4 out of 5 stars

31 Days of Halloween- Day 12- Island of Terror (1966)

31 Days of Halloween- Day 12- Island of Terror (1966)

Scientists on an island just off Ireland are close to finding a cure for cancer but accidentally produce ‘silicates’: tentacled creatures that suck the bone marrow from their victims.

This is a British film directed by Terence Fisher who made a lot of films for Hammer. The version that I saw had been restored by Pinewood Studios where the film was produced and it looks gorgeous. The cinematography and colour palate of the film have been brought out beautifully.

s-l1600-7

This is a fantastic invasion movie from a bygone era and feels like something John Wyndham might have written. The creatures are like giant flattened slugs but with a single antennae which in reality are so unthreatening that it’s hilarious. But it adds to the charm of the movie- and it’s still better than some CGI modern multiplex borefest.

800__island_of_terror_11_blu-ray__blu-ray_

But don’t think that this film is a just a cheesy film to merely laugh off. The version I saw had reinstated a sequence in which Peter Cushing’s character has his hand chopped off with an axe. This scene was taken out of prints after the BBFC said that it was too strong for audiences. With the restoration of the film for release on Blu-ray this scene is available to be seen in all it’s bloody glory.

800__island_of_terror_15_blu-ray__blu-ray_
Cushing’s character post-axe.

The Odeon UK Blu-ray release of this film looks great. The US Scream Factory release is meant to be even better. I look forward to seeing it.

3/5 out of 5 stars

Review- ‘Upgrade’ (2018)

Review- ‘Upgrade’ (2018)

Following a mugging in which his wife was killed and he was made a quadriplegic, Grey Trace has an AI chip installed into his neck that makes his seemingly super-human. He then goes after the bad guys who killed his wife and left him for dead.

I knew nothing about this movie but just knew that it was critically acclaimed (Thank you, Rotten Tomatoes) and so rocked up to the screening. I was amazed! This film is fantastic.

Yes, leading actor Logan Marshall-Green looks like Tom Hardy’s twin. Yes, the film’s plot seems eerily close to the storyline of Hardy’s upcoming Venom. Upgrade is a great film and will quite possibly be in my list of the year’s best films.

wicked-cool-new-overkill-red-band-trailer-for-the-sci-fi-action-film-upgrade-social

The action sequences are terrific and theres more of a passing nod to a comic book type vision for the film’s look and feel. Check out the bar that Grey goes to to try to find his wife’s killers.

But there’s also emotional depth here. This is especially seen in the scenes where Grey tries to adopt to life in a wheelchair with his mother taking over the small tasks of everyday life that he could do before the mugging. The scene in which he bursts into tears at his own newly discovered inability is unexpected but very welcome in a futuristic action movie like this. It provides extra layers to a movie that in lesser hands would be more generic fare. He is later seen trying to take an overdose.

mn-reviews-upgrade-film-review
Tom Hardy Logan Marshall-Green

Whilst there is gritty action and heartbreaking emotional depth to the film there is also laugh out loud humour also. Check out the scene where Grey fights an adversary with STEM in control for the first time. Marshall-Green’s comic timing is impeccable.

Some of the action sequences end gorily- in fact, very gorily. There was more than one occasion during the screening in which audience members where audibly grossed out at special effects that seem to be straight out of a video nasty. And if you’re a gorehound like me thats a great thing.

upgrade-movie-sequel

In fact, one gore scene reminded me of the left sequence from Drive. There are faint echoes of many other films within Upgrade (including The Matrix, 2001, Scanners, Blade Runner and it’s sequel, Westworld… Hell, it even reminded me of Knight Rider. Yes, it’s that good!) but you never get the feeling that Upgrade if ripping off these ideas and blending them together, hoping the audiences and critics won’t notice. Upgrade feels fresh, original and innovative- because it is.

An amazing film- don’t miss it.

4/5 out of 5.