Monthly Archives: July 2011

worst movies…

I thought I’d come up with a listing of some the worst movies I have ever seen:

In no particular order…all warrant a 0/10 rating.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987) – a truly dire movie; tired acting, a shocking script and some terrible special effects. Stay well-clear….

Hellraiser 2: Hellbound (1988) – diabolical, confusing and damn bizarre. something went terribly wrong here…..

Madman (1982) – so bad.  a slasher flick which shows all the kills in the opening sequence, removing any sense of suspense. makes the friday the 13th series seem like The Godfather trilogy.

Island of Death (1975) – a disgusting and offensive film with no merit – a man raping a goat is not entertainment.

The Howling 2: Your sister is a Werewolf (1985) – dreadful. what was christopher lee doing in this film?

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – Jason jumping from body to body? and why did the policeman eat his heart! and that ending – ridiculous and cheap.

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997) – the first movie in this series was rubbish. the fourth is a real effort to sit through.

Amityville 3D (1983) – my oh my. nothing really happens in this film until some sort of troll jumps out of a well in the basement. scarily boring.

if you ever find yourself lying on the sofa in front one of these, you’re in significant trouble……

my favourite tune of the Friday 13th movies

night of the hunter at the bfi next week!

Waxwork (1988)

starring: Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, David Warner, Patrick Macnee, John Rhys Davies

released: 1988

certificate: 18

directed by: Anthony Hickox


A group of college kids are invited to a private viewing at a newly opened Waxworks. Some of the kids disappear and it becomes evident that the wax exhibits themselves are portals to the afterlife…


An enjoyable horror movie with lashings of both gore and comedy. The premise is very interesting. Waxwork (1988) isn’t your standard ‘wax-mannequins-coming-alive-in-the-middle-of-the-night’ tripe.

Zach Galligan (the lead from “Gremlins (1984)) and Deborah Foreman are pretty competent but it’s the bad guys who really carry this film. A lurch-type butler and a diminutive midget with a squeaky voice are among the best in this category. Furthermore, David Warner is brilliantly cast as the fiendish yet charming waxwork owner.

I have to re-iterate that this film is quite gory; the scenes in the vampire basement are certainly some of the bloodiest scenes in 80s horror but the parody aspect of the film means that this isn’t off-putting – the viewer knows this is all just one big game of fun. That’s also one of the key themes in Hickox’s screenplay – this idea that the line between reality and fiction can be so easily – and quite literally in this instance – passed. Despite the undertones of comedy and satire, there are some quite disturbing scenes – although I wouldn’t go as far as to say the film is very frightening in any way – notably the shots of the marquis de sade whipping our virgin lead into sweaty fits of sexual pleasure. It’s also cool that the victims are despatched in accordance with their own personality traits; for example, the slut is appropriately murdered by a seductive vampire (being the victim of her own lust) whilst a policeman is destroyed by a mummy’s curse brought about by an over-curious egyptologist.


When it comes down to it, Waxwork (1988) is essentially all about referencing earlier horror classics – in particular, John Rhys Davies stands out in the homage to the wolfman and there is a great tribute to Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead (1969)” – a sequence filmed, fittingly, in black and white. The scripting alo reflects the genre self-referencing technique which would become so much more polished in Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) – Warner’s character mutters “they will make movies about anything these days”.  The closing credits involve an explicit tribute to the horror directors of the time – Romero, Carpenter, Argento, Landis etc.

This is a film primarily aimed at horror buffs – and it works. It’s no classic but it’s quirky bad guys, top-notch gore effects and many references to the movies which have defined the genre mean it’s a very respectable movie – worth catching it on tv if you can, even if you aren’t a horror fan.

hotdog rating: 7/10.

prince of darkness (1987)

starring: Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Lisa Blount, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Peter Jason

released: 1987

certificate: 18

directed by: John Carpenter


A team of scientists and a priest (Pleasence) investigate a sacred cylinder held in the basement of a derelict church. It seems that the cylinder contains the essence of Satan himself, who has been imprisoned in it for millions of years. Of course, now is the time that Satan fancies getting out…..and releasing his own father (the ‘anti-god’) from another dimension.


A hugely under-rated movie which is actually well-scripted and directed. The film is very much in the vein of Carpenter’s earlier efforts “Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)” and “The Thing (1982)” in the sense of building a siege-mentality – a group of people trapped in a confined space being hunted by something or someone. In “Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)” our protagonists were trapped in an abandoned police station and hunted by a vicious gang hellbent on revenge; in “Prince of Darkness (1987)” our protagonists are trapped in a derelict church and are stalked not by violent punks, but by Satan himself. One of the great things about this movie is that the church is not in some rural back-water, it’s in the centre of a city. (Other innovative themes include the idea that future generations are able to send messages back through time via dreams).

There are a large number of things in this film that I just adore: the opening credits, which last for 9 minutes, are epic and Carpenter’s score here is one of his best. The constant – yet eerie – pounding of the synthesisers gives the film an ominous underbelly of tension which doesn’t let up. Carpenter’s camera-work is first-class too – the sweeping exterior shots of the church and the skylines are perfect, as are the interiors of the church, which now not only imprisons Satan but our lead characters too. It’s amazing how Carpenter manages to make the inside of the church feel so large and cavernous compared to the outside world – a feat which he also accomplishes with the town-houses in “Halloween (1978)”.

Pleasance and Wong are a joy to watch, although admittedly other leads are less impressive. Dennis Dun does well in his role. Indeed, one of my favourite scenes involves Dun hastily providing a running commentary (from his sanctuary in a closet) on the physical transformation of the prince of darkness in human form. Peter Jason and Alice Cooper provide interesting bit-parts.

Prince of Darkness (1987) is a scary movie – it has cheap shocks of course, but it’s the power of Carpenter’s storytelling which really adds the fear factor – I was actually sweating with fear and anticipation towards the end of this movie.

The ending is inventive and there is a very memorable scene where we see the ‘anti-god’ – basically a grotesque hand plunging through a mirror – and a surprise twist too (one of the leads dies in a pretty harrowing scene). The final moments of the movie will stay with you for a long time and will make you think twice before glancing in the mirror again.

The bottom line is that Prince of Darkness (1987) deserves a re-evaluation. I have always been surprised by how harsh the critics have been on this movie, when in many respects, it’s one of Carpenter’s most accomplished – and serious –  films. It’s scary, thrilling and thought-provoking. An adult horror movie.

hotdog rating: 8/10

The Howling VS An American Werewolf in London

Both 1981 werewolf movies….both known for their ground breaking special effects….but which one is the superior?

A difficult one…. but for me The Howling just about gets it. why>? well, because you feel for the werewolves in The Howling….in American Werewolf, they’re just nasty creatures…


The Sentinel (1977)

Starring: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles

Released: 1977

Certificate: 18

Directed by: Michael Winner


A troubled young woman moves into an apartment block to find that the many residents surrounding her are a bit ‘odd’. However, according to the estate agent, it is only herself and the blind priest priest above her who actually occupy the building…..


A very decadent movie which benefits from an eclectic cast of both aging hollywood character acters (Carradine, Balsam, Gardner, Meredith) and young starlets (Sarandon and Raines). I have to say though, I find Carradine’s role in this movie very peculiar – he is basically employed to sit in a chair and look glum under a mound of make-up. Interesting bit-parts fall to Eli Wallach and Christopher Walken as bemused  police detectives.

There are some moments of what can only be described as filth – Miles’ marauding lesbian is a good example – and others of near brilliance. But the movie is unbalanced and somewhat predictable – we have to sit through an awful lot of strange noises, bumps in the night etc. before the script really develops itself and engages with the audience. Nevertheless, Winner handles the finale very well and there is a great energy to the closing scenes – the monsters rising from the depths of hell owe more than a nod to Tod Browning’s classic shocker “Freaks” but are still very effective in generating a significant amount of discomfort.

Carradine had fallen off the wagon....

On the other hand, genuine terror is not particularly evident throughout most of the movie and scares are quite scare; ultimately meaning that it really doesn’t deliver as a horror film in its own right.

Overall, a well-acted  movie, which is a tad slow to develop and too lite on the fright-factor for my liking : ultimately misfiring for these reasons.

hotdog rating: 5.5/10

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Starring: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Thom Matthews, Don Calfa

Certificate: 18

Released: 1985

Directed by: Dan O’Bannon


Two idiot employees (Karen and Matthews) at a medical supplies company accidently open a US-government cannister and release a gas which brings the dead to life…..and the dead want BRAINS!!!!!


I know what you’re thinking. This film is terrible. I don’t want to see any more zombie movies etc. But it’s worth holding off initial preconceptions here.

Return of the Living Dead is an immensely entertaining piece of cinema history – and it’s hilariously funny. O’Bannon obviously understood that making a serious sequel to Romero’s 1969 zombie genre-zenith wasn’t the best idea in the world and what he has produced here is a very amusing, camp and exhilarating cult classic.

Karen and Matthews’ are brilliantly cast as the dullards who start the ball rolling by letting their curiosity get the better of them. Some of the scripted dialogue between these two characters is genius and the two really seem to be having a great time with their characters throughout the entire film. (I never tire of watching Frank (Karen) endlessly muttering “Oh JESUS” in response to every situation…). Gulager (some of you may recognise him as the dad from A Nightmare on Elm Street part 2) excels as the leader of the bunch of survivors and Don Calfa’s appearance as the embalmer is fantastic.

The soundtrack is another positive; it’s so eighties cock-and-synth-rock that you just can’t help being overcome by a sense of crippling nostalgia. The special make-up effects have mostly stood the test of time and there is more than enough gore for the splatter fans. Whilst the vast majority of the movie is a big piece of fun, there are some darker sequences. Specifically, quite a sobering scene in which Calfa’s embalmer questions a captive female member of the undead:

Ernie Kaltenbrunner: You can hear me?
1/2 Woman Corpse: Yes.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: Why do you eat people?
1/2 Woman Corpse: Not people. Brains.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: Brains only?
1/2 Woman Corpse: Yes.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: Why?
1/2 Woman Corpse: The PAIN!
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: What about the pain?
1/2 Woman Corpse: The pain of being DEAD!
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: [laughing in surprise to his friends] It hurts… to be dead.
1/2 Woman Corpse: I can feel myself rotting.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: Eating brains… How does that make you feel?
1/2 Woman Corpse: It makes the pain go away

overall, this is a cracking movie with a genuinely witty script – although no Oscar winner for sure – but a whole lot of fun. Get some drinks in, a bowl of crisps and sit back and enjoy.

hotdog rating: 8/10.

best hitchcock ‘bad-guys’

1. Deranged mothers’-boy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in Psycho (1960).

2. The merry widow murderer, Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) in Shadow of a Doubt (1943).

3. Psychotic rich-boy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) in Strangers on a Train (1951).

4. Smooth and sophisticated Alex Sebastien (Claude Rains) in Notorious (1946).

5. Brilliantly mental Brandon Shaw (John Dall) in Rope (1948).