Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year's Night Of The Living Dead

We're seeing this year out and the new year in with a viewing of the original Night of the Living Dead. We couldn't make it out this year, and thus instead of battling through hordes of zombies on these city streets, we thought we'd watch a different horde of zombies lumbering towards a barricaded house. Almost poetic.

Thank you to every single visitor to Diary of a Genre Addict during 2010. I look forward to bringing you a great many more reviews, diary entries and much more in 2011.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, have a safe and happy new year. Oh, and look out for the armies of the undead. They'll soil your party threads.

Your humble Genre Addict,
Andrew

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Diary: An Evening With my girl... and Dawn Of The Dead

There are few things that myself and my lady can agree with when it comes to films. A few notable exceptions are The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Ghostbusters and Shaun of the Dead, but everything else may well get the foul language flowing at our place. Things she tends to prefer don't have enough spaceships, explosions or zombies in them for me, while the stuff I like, much of the time, has too much of the above for her tastes. Such is life.

George A. Romero's masterpiece of tension and blue-faced zombies is some perfect common ground, and our most recent viewing last night gave rise to a great conversation. The production values of Dawn of the Dead may well have dated, but the film is still a visceral and addictive experience.
It's not as gory as many people seem to think it is, and that's part of its strength, the film is much more of an exercise in tension than a splatter-fest, and where it differs from many lesser films is that you actually feel some affinity with the characters and you care when they're in danger.

As a bottle of cava was demolished and snacks were consumed, we became ever more slurred in our own little commentary, but valid points were still made. For one thing, anyone that has ever worked in a shopping centre, the film fulfils those fantasies about what you'd do if you had the place to yourself. I mean, why not? The world's gone to hell, you might as well run riot, gorge yourself and get some new threads before the zombies chew your guts out.

We also discussed the various subtexts, either implied or not, and generally spent ninety minutes having a damn fine time in a pleasantly drunken manner. So I guess the moral of the story is: Zombie movies are the key to domestic bliss.

Uncanny X-Men 531 (Marvel Comics)

The flagship X-Men title is a difficult read these days. The art, pencilled by Greg Land, is stunning in its detail and seemingly effortless beauty, but the script seems too weighed down by its own continuity.

The issue feels like it spends the first twelve pages or so catching up with itself. Even with the first page recap that is standard with Marvel titles now, it is a hard issue to get into. The Quarantine story just isn't engaging me as much as it should.

While the issue has been getting some great reviews elsewhere, for me as a reader it feels a bit too crowded. It's stuffed with story, yes, but possibly to the detriment of letting any of the plotlines have their moment.

Mind you, with my eyes wandering from the story so often it left me ample chance to really enjoy the visuals. The search for the cause and cure for the mutant flu that has floored everyone continues. Yeah, mutant flu. It has dampened everyone's powers who has gone down with it, leaving a weakened X-team to face dangerous matters without a bunch of key players. It moves the story on nicely, but aside from that breathtaking artwork, it's lacking some spark this month.

Power Girl 19 (DC Comics)

One DC title I've been hearing good things about lately is Power Girl. I'd given up on the character years ago as little more than a big pair of tits and a cape, but now I see how wrong I've been.

Currently written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Sami Basri, Power Girl appears to be a superb superhero book that has it all: Great characters, great writing and art, humour, action and its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

On the strength of this issue I'm gonna check out the trades of the previous creative team (Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner)'s run that I keep hearing about. Power Girl and her array of lesser-known DC characters are being brainwashed, and their gradual realization of this is a great hook.

Told in both flashback and present-tense, it's a nicely structured comic that holds the attention until that spectacular last page. I guess I'll be buying those trades asap, as I want to catch up with what appears to be one of the finest straight-ahead superhero titles currently on the stands.

Birds of Prey 7 (DC Comics)

Hmm. For someone who claims to be such a Marvel fanboy, I seem to be reading a lot of DC titles lately. I wonder why that is. Possibly something to do with DC publishing some truly outstanding comics lately.

This latest issue of the rejuvenated Birds of Prey series sees the 'Death of Oracle' story building and building. The inclusion of Batman is sure to shift a few more copies, and the exchange between him and Oracle is pitch-perfect, but it's the strength of Gail Simone's script and some sterling artwork that keep the pages turning rather than any hype.

The scenes involving the team in a strip club are hilarious, but this is an issue for character drama more than anything. The final action scene may feel a little bit tacked-on, but it does help to set all of the pieces for the remaining three parts of the story into place. I really am eagerly awaiting the next issue.

Wonder Woman 605 (DC Comics)

'Runaway Fate' sees the Wonder Woman title going from strength to strength. After the thrilling events of issue 604, it was never going to be easy to keep the momentum up, but this issue is every bit as good, albeit different.

Here we get to see a little more of the new Wonder Woman's personality, and are reminded she's pretty much just a kid via dialogue and her own motivations.

The action of the issue comes from the revelation of who the Morrigan are, and the search for them adds some real drama to the issue. A decidedly quieter issue than recent months, but it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. The last two pages are worth the cover price alone.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Transmorphers (2007)

I love the audacity of The Asylum, and to this day I don't know how they get away with making this stuff without being torn apart by Hollywood lawyers. If you're not familiar with them, they're a movie company who specialise in 'Mockbusters'; films that rip-off big budget feature films and which are released straight to DVD around the same time that the real things are arriving in cinemas.

There have been loads of these knock-off flicks, including cheeky cash-ins on Iron Man, Alien Vs Predator, War of the Worlds and even High School Musical. All of them are marketed to look very much like the films they are pastiching, and pretty much all of them are terrible.

Transmorphers, let's not beat about the bush here, is crap. That said, it's entertaining crap. With its dire cast and its hilariously cheap CGI, it should be an absolute car crash, but it's actually kinda fun in its own way. Rather than ripping off the Transformers movies, it rips off a bunch of other big Sci-Fi blockbusters including The Matrix, Blade Runner, Aliens and The Terminator, amongst others. This makes it fun to pick out where different bits have been lifted from, but it also means that it makes for some entertaining background noise full of explosions and robots.

The film is shot in a style that is quite blatantly intended to look like the Battlestar Galactica remake, and as such looks much nicer than many other Asylum projects (and features some impressive sets), but it's still tosh. Robots have taken over the earth, and after 400 years, man is finally fighting back. A rag-tag group of resistance fighters bicker underground for much of the flick, but once it gets a bit Aliens and guns start a-blazing, you're treated to fun involving z-grade 'actors' blasting away at marvellously cheap video-game style CG robots.

The script, tacky as it is, is still above the skills of the cast, who all look above fifteen years too young for their roles, and whom can barely manage the lines they are given. Such is the level of cheese that I'm reminded of the short lived Captain Power TV series, but at least even that had some innovation to it. Transmorphers is a big, fat rip-off, but it's also one of the most audacious cheapo movies made in recent history. It even spawned a prequel, Transmorphers: Fall of Man, and even though these films are terrible, they still walk all over Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special)

The first Doctor Who Christmas special to feature Matt Smith in the role of the legendary Time Lord is here, and it's certainly festive enough. Amy and Rory are trapped on a ship along with 4,000 other people, and it's heading for disaster, caught in disruptive clouds surrounding a curiously steampunky planet. The Doctor heads down to the planet before the ship can crash in order to try to get the man who controls the clouds to help out, thus saving the ship and its passengers. Of course, that man is a dead ringer for Scrooge, and refuses to help at all. The Doctor cooks up a plan to re-enact Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and try to change Sardick (played by Michael Gambon)'s mind.

Along the way we meet the angelically-voiced opera singer Katherine Jenkins, who plays the equally sweet-voiced Abigail. From there it gets a bit complicated, and I'd imagine a fair few TVs around the country were shouted at. The special itself is absolutely beautiful to look at, with a sumptuous production and truly gorgeous effects, but it's easy to lose the plot a bit and just concentrate on the exemplary visuals at points.

I think part of the trouble is that you can already guess the ending to the story from about five minutes in, if that. Amy and Rory are barely even in the special, even though they're in mortal peril, and this is a shame as they'd just found their feet as characters by the end of series 5. The Doctor spends much of the episode going through the required motions of the classic Dickens tale with a whimsical SF/fantasy spin on it, and while Matt Smith is once again wonderful as the Doctor, this special just felt a bit lacking in the excitement department.

Where it excelled was the performance and character of Michael Gambon's Sardick, who must go through a very odd transformation as the episode unfolds. His portrayal of this difficult character is lovely to watch, and he really brings Katherine Jenkins' limited acting skills to your attention. As guest stars go, she does okay, and gets to sing a fair bit, but she's not the best actor in the world. She's not the worst, but her delivery does occasionally remind you she's first and foremost a vocalist and not a character actor.

There are some great ideas in the episode (the fish and all that came with them), but it's all a bit too surreal. However, it's perfectly festive and ideal Christmas viewing, even with its problems. Next year I hope that we can get back to specials on a par with The Christmas Invasion.

PS: I thought the inclusion of the 4th Doctor's scarf was great!!!

The series 6 trailer followed the credits, and we're given a glimpse of... Doctor Who in America. It just looks out of place. Good to see River Song back, and who does that other TARDIS belong to? Theory? River is the Rani. Anyway, it looks a bit too X-Files for me. I know there's a big Doctor Who audience in the US, but can't we just keep this *one* show as it is, and not turn it American? Please? The Doctor is as British as tea and scones.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Primeval Series 1 (2007)

I'm a latecomer to the world of Primeval. As a die-hard Doctor Who fan (since I was ten years old), I was always a little cynical of anything that was put out as a commercial counterpart to the BBC's legendary adventures in time and space. I finally relented recently when it dawned on me that something about inter-dimensional anomalies and rampaging monsters is actually right up my street. Thus series 1 was purchased.

I was more than pleasantly surprised with what played out before me- I was seriously impressed. It's hugely ambitious, well executed, well written and largely well acted, and an absolute blast to watch. The cast is excellent for the most part, with the most instantly likeable characters being moody genius Nick Cutter (Douglas Henshall) and enthusiastic tomboy zoo keeper Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearitt). The others are decent, but there are moments that are either weakly scripted or weakly acted that take you out of it a bit.

Strange (and very pretty) anomalies are popping up around the country, allowing all manner of beasties from other eras to run amok in our time, and plenty of thrills are to be had once they do so. The character interplay is interesting and adds some drama between monster attacks. The points with this first series that feel a little laboured mostly centre around Cutter's wife, presumed dead but instead missing in time. Once that storyline is resolved, it's difficult to suspend disbelief that she's been where she says she's been due to the basic practicalities of it, but that's a small issue.

Once the team is gathered and the point of the series is established, it makes for gripping and entertaining TV. The digitally realized beasts are amazing, the story grows and evolves, and it ends on a whopping cliffhanger. In conclusion it's a heck of an opening series, and I hope that series 2 and 3 (and the imminent series 4) build on it. I'll find out soon. Why didn't I watch this ages ago and join in the fun? Serves me right for being a slave to the Doctor.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Wonder Woman 604 (DC Comics)

The fourth part of the 'Odyssey' story picks up the pace a huge amount, and any issues I'd been having with the rejuvenated Wonder Woman title have gone away. This is a damn fine comic book. The creative team, lead by J. Michael Straczynski, have created an epic climax to the current storyline, which leads very nicely into the next.

I'd not enjoyed other recent issues as much as I could have done, due to the aforementioned slow pace, but this one really makes up for it. The new Wonder Woman's trial by fire (literally) is handled nicely, with a surprising and satisfying cameo that helps to cement this iteration of the character as the (new) real thing.

Incidentally, I think the new, more flattering costume is great, and fits perfectly with both the character herself and the current move to more believable and practical superhero comics. A job very well done all round.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Code 46 (2003)

Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton are absolutely electrifying in this beautiful, lyrical and unforgettable science fiction drama. The film is subtle in its portrayal of the near future, and the allusions to higher technology and thinking that are evident throughout it are integrated in such a manner as to be almost seamless.

A tale of identity theft and loss, it can sometimes feel a little too bleak and washed out, but this only serves to make it seem all the more real. There is a haunting quality to the visuals, the script, the acting and the pacing of the piece that is hypnotic, drawing you into the melancholic world that it portrays.

Tim Robbins plays William, a detective on the trail of a woman suspected of identity fraud, played by the sublime Samantha Morton. When William falls in love with the suspect, he must face the dilemma of carrying out his duty or being with her.

The character interplay is complex, with real flashes of brilliance in the way people react to the strange situations they find themselves in. The film takes place mostly in a futuristic Shanghai, mixing slums with grandeur, and the dialogue used throughout utilizes elements of many languages.

It is a far cry from the general consensus of science fiction films being about robots, spaceships and endless action, which is probably why it was far from being a hit. That's not to say that it is sub-par. It isn't. It is one of the very best science fiction films of the past decade, beautifully directed by Michael Winterbottom and played with a great deal of realism by a remarkable cast. Code 46 is a wonderfully haunting experience for any lover of dystopian science fiction with an emphasis on character and plot. A genuinely beautiful film.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Bionicle: Mask of Light (2003)

Toy tie-in films are rarely much good. This was the first movie based on the Lego spinoff range known as Bionicle, a stylized science fiction take on the classic building blocks toys. Completely computer generated, it offers some impressive visuals that keep you watching despite the painfully complicated and bizarrely uninvolving story.

The CG visuals have dated quite a bit, and there are moments when it looks a bit too much like the much-missed TV series Reboot, but on the whole it remains watchable if you're in the mood for some light entertainment and are happy to watch a kids' film. The characters, due to their very nature, are hard to relate to, as is their world and the stuff that happens in it.

There's some Star Wars, some folklore, some Lord of the Rings and elements of countless other sources, wrapped up in a strangely tribal aesthetic. I love animated films, and am very able to find enjoyment in material aimed at children, but this just didn't work for me. When the action is flowing thick and fast, the film is at its best, but between those scenes, you're wishing it would hurry up and get on with it. This is an interesting look into the continuing development of digital animation more than a film to savour. A shame, really, as I'd heard this was pretty good.

Return Of The Evil Dead (aka Return Of The Blind Dead) (1973)



Return Of The Evil Dead, despite its rather questionably ripped off title, is a pretty solid sequel to the highly regarded Italian horror classic Tombs Of The Blind Dead. It is also known under the title of Return of the Blind Dead, which annoys me less. It's a baroque, gothic horror romp with some delightfully cheesy characters and some delightfully nasty gore. Basically, it's everything you would expect from the European horror scene at the time.

The back story of the Blind Dead (horse-riding zombies in Ringwraith-style cloaks) is covered in some detail by way of a flashback to the 13th century, and then we're brought into the 1970s and all of the fashion horrors that you can stomach. If the clothes and the hair of the time weren't enough to turn your stomach, then maybe some of the rather well-staged violence will. On the anniversary of the Blind Deads' deaths, the mayhem gets underway with the dead riding upon the town at the height of a festival.



Originally, the town's local idiot sacrificed a girl to incite the return of the dead, but this is sadly the trimmed version of the film, which lacks all of the brutality of the original Italian version. Still, it's entertaining and unsettling. Once the dead are back, chaos and blood ensue. The authorities ignore the mayor's pleas for help, assuming him to be off his face on booze, and thus it's up to the townsfolk to defend themselves against the ancient marauding undead!

While this cut of the film is missing the full extent of the nastiness that took place in the movie, it remains a fascinating film for fans of classic horror cinema. The designs of the Blind Dead themselves are fantastic, and the film's main strength. They genuinely look like nightmares given form. Eyeless, skeletal and wrapped in filthy rags, they embody evil in great style. As a film, it's uneven, as the scenes with the living cast are ropey at best, but once the action gets underway, it's gripping. An entertaining curio, but it won't make you crave the other films in the series. To get hooked, check out the 1971 original.



Friday, 10 December 2010

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Willow Polystone Statue (Sideshow Collectibles)

Willow Statue

The preview image for this awesome Buffy The Vampire Slayer Willow statue has hit the web from Sideshow Collectibles, and I'm really rather impressed. It's rare that a facial sculpt on a pop culture collectible hits the mark quite as close as this. It really is the closest to the real Alyson Hannigan that I've ever seen. Nice one, Sideshow! Click on the image to visit the Sideshow site and check out more of their awesome collectibles.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

TRANSFORMERS #13 (IDW)

This is the first new Transformers comic I've bought in aaaaaaages. I found a while back that the Transformers comics had vanished up their metallic backsides, and thus I stopped reading them. I picked this up in passing due to the fun cover of Rodimus and a flick through the book. It's a superbly entertaining issue, showcasing some nicely stylized artwork from Nick Roche and a snappy script by Mike Costa.

Rodimus (or Hot Rod, as us old timers tend to remember the little git) is as cocky as he always was, and I'm gonna have to track down the issues before this to find out just what happened to lead up to the point where he's setting off on a suicide mission against a Decepticon base in an attempt to rescue the Autobot leadership matrix.

Despite the high octane action, there's some nifty character work on display, which elevates this issue far above what I'd been expecting. I thought I was just in for some awesome art, but instead I got one of the best things to carry the Transformers name in years. Has the whole series been this good?

Oracle - One Shot (DC Comics)

I picked up some titles I'd missed previously this week. The 'Bruce Wayne: The Road Home' story arc continues across the DC Comics Batman range with this decent one shot starring the former Batgirl and Birds of Prey head honcho Barbara Gordon. Multi title crossovers are never a pleasant thing to try and keep up with, and I've not been paying any attention to the current story, so I was more than a bit lost with this one-shot. In addition, it barely features Oracle at all, despite having a huge image of her on the cover and her name for the title. The majority of the issue is a big, loud fight between a bunch of C-list DC characters and some of R'as Al Ghul's badasses. Marc Andreyko's script and Agustin Padilla's art are both impressive and imaginative, but the lack of the title character for most pages in the issue is a bit of a drawback. As it is, it feels like an afterthought. Right, I'm off to read some old Birds of Prey issues and remind myself how awesome the character can be.

Diary: In The Mood For Jedi

Sometimes, nothing but a Star Wars movie will do. Tonight, after a load of travelling and a very stressful week, myself and my lady decided to stick Return of The Jedi on to relax to. You see, the Star Wars movies are brilliant mood pieces for however you're feeling. You see, if you're feeling optimistic and cheerful, there's A New Hope. Pissed off and needing to let off steam? Watch The Empire Strikes Back (good advice whatever you feel like).

Wanting something that isn't very taxing and is comfortable and fun? Return of the Jedi. Need background noise and twenty minutes of perfection? The Phantom Menace. Masochistic? Attack of the Clones. I'm not so sure about Revenge of the Sith, though. Of the prequels, it's the best film, but it also feels the least like a Star wars movie (the most 'Star Wars' feeling flick was TPM). I guess that one should be reserved for when you want to sit for two hours and wait for The Good Bit to arrive, only to finish up going 'That "Nooooooo" was rubbish'.

General- Star Wars Dioramas

Sunday, 28 November 2010

WHITEOUT (2009)

Based on the awesome Oni Press graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, Whiteout is the chilly story of US Marshal Carrie Steko as she is pitted against a killer at a research base in Antarctica, just before the sun is about to set over the whole place for six months. It got mixed reviews upon release, but is a solid piece of action-packed entertainment for the discerning viewer.

It's a million miles away from your average comic book film, and that's one of its strengths. It's gritty, violent and gripping, and the sub-zero setting evokes The Thing and 30 Days of Night. There are no aliens, vampires or monsters, but there's a lot of tension, a lot of running, and a lot of edge-of-the-seat moments as Carrie and her colleagues fight against the elements as well as the villain.

The film is relentlessly bleak, much like its setting, which is maybe why it has its detractors, but those things work well in its favour. The setting adds a huge amount of atmosphere, I mean, that place is terrifying in itself without a killer trying to pick you off.

The plot is twisty enough to keep the grey matter bubbling away (although one particular twist is visible from about five minutes in), and the action sequences keep the adrenaline going. The limited locations add claustrophobia to proceedings, which are already very tense for much of the film's running time.

Beckinsale is on top form as Carrie, and is a little less predictable than other characters she has portrayed in other genre films, and her American accent is pretty level throughout it. There are faults here and there, mostly involving pacing issues around the midway mark, but it's a decent thrill-ride with some very striking visuals, and well worth checking out on one of these long winter nights.





General- Sideshow Collectibles

Christmas Gifts For Your Movie Geek

General- Sideshow Collectibles

Look, people like us are hard to buy Christmas gifts for. We know this. We're picky and we have high standards when it comes to the festive season. Movie geeks, while ultimately the coolest people alive, are notoriously hard to buy stuff for. I know this, as I'm just like that myself. For the discerning movie geek you really can't go wrong with pretty much anything from the incredible Sideshow Collectibles. Whether your geek is into Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, comics, video games or whatever, Sideshow is the place to go for the very best collectibles around. Click below for their holiday gift guide!

Holiday Guide 2010

Batwoman - Issue Zero (DC Comics)

This is an interesting look at things to come for the Batwoman series which is getting underway soon. Told in the form of an investigation by Batman into the identity of Batwoman. It basically lays the groundwork for the character and brings new readers up to speed before the ongoing series debuts. As a trailer for that, it works very well.

The two art styles that are used represent the two identities superbly, and really give you a sense of the duality of these characters' lives. Batwoman is the most high-profile gay character DC have published, and her orientation is dealt with in a very subtle manner rather than in your face.

One thing I really like is how Batwoman is rendered, as there are some shots where she looks positively demonic and unhinged. On the strength of this preview issue alone, I'll be checking the series out, and I don't say that lightly ass I'm more a Marvel guy. The issue is backed up with a preview from Detective Comics #871, drawn by Jock, which is always a good thing.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Diary: Post Alcohol Viewing

I'm drunk so I probably shouldn't be near a keyboard. Weird how I get the urge to watch a bunch of Lucio Fulci stuff when I get back from clubbing. I wonder if this has anything to do with wanting to set about the dribbling masses with a chainsaw.

I don't really, but it'd make a great flick. Heh.

Black Widow 8 (Marvel Comics)

Kiss or Kill Part 3 ups the ante of the Black Widow title with a brilliant mix of action, intrigue and highly kinetic art. The first two parts were a little lacklustre, with scratchy art and some pacing problems, but this one makes up for those episodes with a ton of style.

Natalia in this issue is everything the Black Widow character should be- determined, sexy, intelligent and formidable. Her chemistry with the Nick Crane character finally falls into place, and the inclusion of super-powered lunatics is a boon after two issues of straightforward espionage action.

Manuel Garcia's pencils and Lorenzo Ruggiero's inks bring Swierczynski's fascinating script to thrilling life, and on the whole it's a very satisfying package. A very cool issue of a rapidly improving series, and well worth slogging through the first two parts of this story to get to!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Stan Lee's The Traveler - Issue 1

BOOM studios and Stan 'The Man' Lee have teamed up to present a bunch of new superhero titles, and the first issue of The Traveler (written by none other than Mark Waid) found its way into my comic pile this week thanks to the superb cover art. It's a good, fun read, and throws you straight into the action of the Traveler an his time-twisting abilities.

The villains, known as Split-Seconds, are pretty cool but a tad one dimensional. Actually, everything about the comic is a bit one-dimensional, but it's just the first issue, and it does its job of setting the scene very well.

It's great to read a superhero title that is son unashamedly a superhero title, and while this one is all style (and bright colours) over substance, it's entertaining enough. Here's hoping issue 2 carries a bit more depth.

Now, I shall go and wash my hands after having to use the US spelling of 'Traveller'.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Ice Queen (2005)

Yes. Oh yes. This is the stuff. This is the sort of thing I started this site for. The low budget horror quickie known as Ice Queen came into my life as a trailer on another DVD, and about ten seconds into that trailer I knew I had to have this in my life. Not long after that, my copy arrived and I was ecstatic to find out that the film is every bit as silly as the trailer makes it out to be.

The film tells the story of an ancient creature (conveniently in the form of an attractive young woman) is discovered perfectly preserved in ice. She is flown away for tests and experimentation when the flight goes awry, crashing into a ski resort, right in the middle of a massive avalanche. Naturally, once the resort is cut off from the rest of the world, the creature wakes up and turns all demonic. Carnage ensues.

There's very little in the way of budget to speak of, but there are some sequences of Ice Queen that are really impressive. The avalanche scene is one of those moments, formed from miniature work, CGI and stock footage to create a convincing and thrilling sequence. After that we're in low budget horror potboiler territory, with airheaded characters being picked off (and indeed ripped to pieces) one by one by the Ice Queen.

Quite frankly, it's a rubbish bit of brainless schlock, but it's also ridiculous enough to be funny and cheap enough to make me cringe with delight. The Ice Queen herself is the star of the whole thing, and is played with no small measure of evil glee by Ami Chorlton (who made appearances in Die Another Day and, erm, Relic Hunter). She roars, bites, tears and terrorizes her way through a cast of vapid nonentities in a farcical orgy of blood, gore and running.

After the somewhat large-scale opening, the film fizzles out into a typical monster romp by the twenty minute mark, but it's entertaining enough to maintain your interest for the running time even if for most of it you're shouting at the screen in a blind rage, praying that the cast are going to start acting at some point.

It doesn't happen, but the delightfully stupid ending (which is alarmingly original, along with daft) sort of makes up for that. Don't expect a great film. Expect cheese, a weak script, some great gore, a cool monster and some delightfully brainless late-night entertainment. Just don't try to take it seriously, or you'll melt.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crusade: Revisiting the Excalibur

For some unknown reason I've had the urge to watch a bunch of Babylon 5 and related stuff lately. This has included the short-lived sequel series Crusade (aka Babylon 5: Crusade), which I've been watching an episode here and there for the past week, and am most of the way through the 13 episode run now.

I watched it the first time round, and remember being extremely stoked for it after watching the frankly brilliant Babylon 5 movie 'A Call To Arms'. Crusade was set up by the end of that movie, where an alien plague is spread on Earth which will kill humanity within five years. Crusade follows the mission to find a cure.


It's a curious series, which feels like a completely different universe much of the time, while still carrying over a large number of B5 staples (including visits to Babylon 5 itself and cameos from B5 regulars). Watching it again now, Gary Coleman's character of Matthew Gideon is a bit of a cookie-cutter starship captain character, equal parts Captain Kirk and Buck Rogers, but there are some characters that really stick in the mind, such as the Techno Mage character Galen (Peter Woordward) and the thief/badass Dureena Nafeel (Carrie Dobro).

The series looks a little cheap and dated now, but that doesn't stop you enjoying some very fine science fiction. It's a little hokey sometimes, and J. Michael Straczynski's scripts sometimes contain dialogue that comes across a little too theatrical for the onscreen action, but Crusade is well worth a repeat viewing. The effects may have dated, but they still look cool and give the series a unified aesthetic, which is very sleek and clean. It's brighter in tone than Babylon 5 and less complicated by a long way, but it's also more than just a curio.

I would have liked to have seen much more than one series produced, but as it is, those 13 episodes are a fine legacy. And yeah, when you watch the final episode, 'Each Night I Dream of Home', I defy any long-term B5 fan not to be moved by the performance from the late Richard Biggs as Dr. Franklin. Great stuff. Now, if only the music for the series had been created by B5 legend Christopher Franke rather than whoever came up with the (frankly infuriating) beeps, clicks and whirrs that pass for a soundtrack, then it would have been even better.

The original Crusade opening (check out the awful theme tune!)


...and a version with a Christopher Franke theme which works so much better...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A note from your Genre Addict

I've not given up on this place, I'm taking part in NaNoWriMo for the third year running and writing 50,000 words of a novel during November. In addition to this I've had a load of fantastic magazine work and thus for the time being this place has had to go on temporary hiatus. I'm gonna post a review soon, and will keep the flow of new content coming whenever I'm able to. Thanks for your patience, and for visiting Diary Of A Genre Addict!

Friday, 22 October 2010

QUICK FIX: Nightmare Hostel (aka Dr. Rage - 2005)

What the? No, no no no. No thanks. I like crap movies, but this is beyond even me. I picked this up for a quid on a recent DVD spree (God bless halloween discount movies) and it's barely even worth that. The cover is TOTALLY misleading, and whoever wrote that quote on the cover must have been watching something else entirely. It's shot in a gloomy fashion, but that's where the Hostel similarities begin and end. The story? Bah, some crap about experimentation on humans which either sends them mental or turns them into mutants.

It's shot okay, but the acting, script and direction stink. You can really see what thee makers were trying to achieve, but it fails on just about every level. It's passable entertainment for a late night with some beers and something else occupying most of your attention, but to sit down and watch Nightmare Hostel is to waste 90 minutes of your life.

Mind you, there's a trailer on the DVD for a flick called ICE QUEEN, and while the film itself may suck, that trailer is brilliant, and made me feel much happier about losing a quid on Nightmare Hostel. I mean, I could have bought myself some Tizer or something.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

QUICK FIX: AXE (aka The Choke - 2005)

I didn't have high hopes for this film. For one thing, I picked it up with a stack of other discount DVDs that have hit the shelves around town for the Halloween rush, plus it features nobody I've ever heard of. The title on the box is AXE, but after a little research I found out it's supposed to be called The Choke, which makes a bit more sense due to the sheer number of films out there called 'Axe'. The film is a cross between a teen slasher, a rockumentary and a horror comedy, but it has some pretty decent horror scenes and some real tension.

The cast is actually pretty good considering the budget and subject matter, with Brooke Bailey turning in the best performance as moody bassist Beatrice London. A rock band is set to play a gig at a hot underground club, an event that is to be filmed by a friend of the band for a documentary. This allows for the film to slip between traditionally shoot footage and video-camera material, which actually works quite well as the technique is used sparingly.

When the band get trapped in the club after it empties, they find themselves being picked off one by one by and unseen psychopath. You get clues as to who it is, but then you're surprised when the two people you think it is are offed in quite spectacular style. Don't get me wrong, this ain't a masterpiece, but it's an enjoyable piece of schlock cinema with a decent script, a good cast and some really graphic gore shots. It has its cringeworthy moments, but it's entertaining, and as I only paid a quid for it, I think I certainly got my money's worth.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Diary: Warehouse 13 - The Right Kind Of Cheese

I love Warehouse 13. I think it's a great little show, and while the latest season has seen it get a bit sexier (and a bit more X-Files-y), it still retains the b-movie schtick of the first series. It straddles that fine line between silly and entertaining, and this is a breath of fresh air in an age where a great many TV shows can take themselves rather too seriously.

Yeah, the concept is stolen wholesale from the Friday The 13th TV series (i.e. two well dressed lead actors tracking down cursed/corrupted artifacts), but it's great fun to watch, and hell, it has Saul Rubinek in it, so it's good by default. Saul Rubinek is a great actor, and highly underrated due to the profile of many of the projects he's been part of. I think he's awesome. The whole show is. It's a bit kitsch, a bit dark, a bit Sci-Fi, a bit horror, a bit fantasy, and really quite engrossing.

It's a far cry from being a classic, but the format allows for something of an Outer Limits/Twilight Zone vibe to creep in, and also stops things getting stale as the very basis of the show is that something different is going on with each episode. All of the greats of genre TV have a format that can be twisted and bent and played with (Doctor Who, Star Trek TOS, the modern Battlestar Galactica, etc), and this is something that the makers of Warehouse 13 have paid attention to.

Something I do enjoy about it is the fact that it feels quite small scale and self contained. There's little chance of it getting carried away with the scope of its plots, and that low-key atmosphere to many of the stories is a refreshing change after so many series trying to be epic. It has a strong cast, decent production values, and its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. I do hope it continues to be this much fun, and doesn't burn out or jump the shark. Here's one warehouse I'd be happy to keep on exploring for a good long while yet!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Spookies (1986)

What the hell is this?! Either the flu I've got is making me hallucinate (again) or this film did actually just pass over my TV. I'd never even heard of this prior to finding it for 50p in the local charity shop (which seems to be getting in a steady stream of very weird forgotten horror films- woohoo!) for the cover alone. Look at that cover. Painted monsters that look like walking open sores! It had to be mine. In fact if I remember rightly I went "Yoink!" when I took it from the shelf. Thankfully the tape plays perfectly despite being 24 years old, but the unfortunate thing is the movie it contains.

After a bit of research (well, visiting the movie's Wikipedia page anyway), I discovered that this glorious mess of a film is actually bits of an unfinished film stitched together with newer footage shot a while after production was shut down on the original. It was going to be called 'Twisted Souls', but I think I like the 'Spookies' title better as it's just plain stupid. Much like the movie.

The plot? Uh... a bunch of random people (who seem to have nothing in common) break into a spooky old house. Weird shit happens, monsters appear, one of them is possessed, and one by one they are attacked by all manner of oddness. This oddness includes the two 'Muck Men' on the cover, which are basically piles of rubber poo that keep farting as they attack the cast! I wonder if Kevin Smith ever saw this before making Dogma.

There's a spooky immortal sorcerer hiding in the house, along with his feral sidekick (a cross between an angry cat and the X-Men's Nightcrawler in a jester suit), who is setting all of the monsters and crap on the poor, unwitting cretins that broke into his house (which is in the middle of a graveyard, of course). There are possessions, a massive Alien-type demon, zombies, severed heads, a thing that looks like the villain from Terrahawks, glowing Reaper demon things, creepy ghost ladies spitting prophecies, a little blue boy with plastic fangs and so much more. It's like a dozen films going on at once in one house.

Watching it gave me even more of a headache, so I'm rocking some more painkillers now. It's a really frustrating film, as it's absolutely, utterly, completely awful, but there are some frankly brilliant effects sequences. In particular I'm a big fan of the zombies, which are almost as much of a mess as the editing. Even if you didn't know this was a half-finished film with other stuff added, you can tell it a mile off. The editing is all over the place, but the effects are just enough to keep you watching until the end.

That is if you can find a copy, as Spookies was so universally hated that it is one of those rare films that still doesn't have a DVD release of it out there (whoops, actually it does- it's on a pound-shop movies label! How fitting!). As it charges towards its muddled climax, the makers throw everything into the pot just to see what boils first. It's ludicrous, gory, cheesy and cheap. I think that's why I loved it. Either that or I've taken the wrong painkillers and am instead off my face on plant food or something. Who can tell? This film is crap, but it's crap in a way that leaves you utterly mesmerized. Well, in my case it left me mesmerized and sweating, but that's probably not from the flick really. Whoa, I think I'm growing roots...

The Trailer:



A collection of the 'best' scenes:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Crow: Salvation (2000)


"I want to be with your forever..."
"Only forever?"

The Crow series really didn't have an easy ride of it, did it? Brandon Lee lost his life while filming the iconic original, then came the all-style-no-substance sequel The Crow: City of Angels, then came the film I'll be talking about here, namely The Crow: Salvation. The less said about the fourth film (which could barely even be described as a film), The Crow: Wicked Prayer, the better. Salvation was the movie that was finally made when the 'other' third Crow movie, The Crow 2037 (which was to be directed by Rob Zombie) was aborted, and while it lacks originality, it is a much more satisfying flick that City Of Angels, and about as good a sequel as you could hope for.

Starring Eric Mabius and Kirsten Dunst, Salvation tells the story of Alex Corvis (Mabius), who is framed for the murder of his girlfriend and executed in the electric chair. The Crow resurrects him, now scarred with the trademark Crow makeup (which in this film is burned into his skin during his execution) and powers, so that he may clear his name and kill those people involved in both his girl's murder and his own death. It lacks the heady, breathtaking atmosphere of the Brandon Lee original, but it boasts a more polished production, a great lead cast and a typically brilliant soundtrack (the soundtrack albums to the first three films are absolutely fantastic and completely essential).

The script is rather lacklustre, with not really enough emphasis on Alex's return from the dead from a character standpoint. He just seems to accept it straight away. This is in contrast to the original, as you really got the feeling Eric Draven was freaked out and scared by his own new life, and thus more justification for his descent into partial madness. Eric Mabius plays the part of Alex well though, and does put across the character's determination to hunt down the bad guys very well.

Kirsten Dunst plays the sister of Alex's murdered girlfriend, and does well with what little she has to work with. The interplay between her character and the Alex character is interesting, but it could have been explored a little deeper as again, it all seems quite convenient. There are some woeful jumps in logic throughout the film, possibly down to some bad editing decisions, but as a whole it works. The ending is frustrating, in that it offers no real conclusion to the plot, but I must stress that these negative aspects don;t stop the film being an enjoyable little sequel that was less of a parody of the original than City of Angels was.

The direction and cinematography are rather pedestrian, but this can be explained by a tight budget. Director Bharat Nalluri did a great job with the resources he had. Now, if Dimension had left it alone after this one, the world would be a better place. Sadly, Wicked Prayer came along after it and completely buggered the franchise up. Mind you, the TV series didn't help much either. Stick to the original and Salvation. I guess The Crow has the opposite dilemma to the original Star Trek movies, in that the odd numbered ones are far superior to their even numbered (and somewhat deformed) brethren.

You Can purchase The Crow: Salvation on Amazon by clicking HERE!

(Unfortunately I can't find an upload of the trailer, so instead here are some clips from the movie and its soundtrack...)



Thursday, 23 September 2010

TRAILER TREASURES: JUDGE DREDD (1995)

Okay, I loved the 1995 Judge Dredd movie when it came out, and I still have a lot of affection for it, or at least the first twenty minutes. I've been a huge Judge Dredd fan ever since I picked up my first copy of 2000ad waaaaaaaay back in the mists of time. When the movie came out, it was like a religious experience. Then the reality set in. He took the helmet off. HE TOOK THE HELMET OFF. AAARGH!

Despite the issues I (and many other fans) had with the film, there really iss no denying that it looked amazing. Mega City One was perfect. The Judges looked fantastic. The ABC robot was awesome. The Justice Department HQ was stunning. It just suffered from a bit too much Hollywood, and not enough John Wagner/Carlos Esquerra. That aside, the trailer was drokking cool. See for yourself.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Jeez, the Resident Evil movie series is already at its fourth instalment? Where do the years go? I went to see this today knowing pretty much exactly what to expect. Y'see, I do enjoy the Resident Evil movies, but I probably get a bit more out of them than fans of the games as I have never really been much of a gamer. Thus I don't have to compare the films to the games. I know who the characters are that have shown up in the games, and the various plot points, but only through pop culture osmosis rather than an active interest in the source material. I love the Resident Evil movies as they are pure entertainment, which really isn't trying to masquerade as anything else.

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D was filmed with the same technology that James Cameron used to bring us the sci-fi epic Avatar, and writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson (HEY! LESS HISSING AT THE BACK! AT LEAST HE'S NOT UWE BOLL!) has pulled out every trick in the book to ensure value for money. This is the perfect sort of film for 3D- plenty of set pieces and some really rather impressive photography, as well as some frankly awesome explosions. Gotta love those explosions. Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up the thread from the climactic moments of Resident Evil: Extinction, where we got to see the clones of Alice (Milla Jovovich) waking up in their cocoons.

Afterlife starts off with a bang as those clones set about laying waste to the Umbrellaa Corporation's headquarters. That sequence is kinda odd, really, as while it is undoubtedly awesome, it also feels like the ending to a movie we haven't seen, added onto the start of this one. It kind of ties up the loose threads of the clones and Alice's superpowers, and then the film really gets started. This film is apparently much more in keeping with the games, and features a number of creatures from Resident Evil 5 (or so I'm hearing), and those elements really add some shock power to the horror scenes.

Something odd about this film is that it's a zombie movie without much in the way of zombie action, but when the zombies do show up, those scenes are fantastic. Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller are a little hammy as videogame fan-favourites Claire and Chris Redfield, but a Resident Evil movie is hardly the place to be deadly serious. The tension is kept up, the pace is nice and brisk, and Milla Jovovich gets to outdo all of her previous performances with some spectacular action scenes.

One thing I'll say is that this ain't a movie for people who suffer from claustrophobia, as a few scenes will have you chewing off your own arms with fear. Resident Evil: Afterlife looks amazing, and while the plot is a little thin, it is brilliantly entertaining. Where the film suffers is the overly silly Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) character, who is the epitome of the cartoon villain. Does the film do the series proud? Hell yes. As with the others, it has a different feel to the previous entry, but it takes the action to another level entirely and the 3D really adds, erm, another dimension. Is this the last one? Stick around and during the credits you'll find out that no, it really isn't. Mind you, on the strength of this preposterously silly but wonderfully fun movie, I can't wait for the next one.