Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Invasion: The Beginning (2007)

Why oh WHY do I make myself sit through this stuff? While there have been some absolute gems amidst the low-budget movies I watch and talk about here, there are times when I wonder why I bothered getting a DVD player in the first place. This is one of those times. Invasion: The Beginning (aka Invasion of the Pod People) is one of the many ‘mockbusters’ from rip-off machine The Asylum.

Released at the same time as the Daniel Craig/Nicole Kidman remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (aka The Invasion), and it’s one of their worst ever. Ginger roots as alien plant props, production values that make it look and sound like it was shot on a phone, a script it took less time to write than to watch the movie of, and a cast who deserve better.

There’s so much background noise in every scene it’s like watching a movie with an active bus engine strapped to your face. Visually there’s the occasional well-framed shot or nicely edited sequence, but the film is otherwise devoid of merit.

Any atmosphere is created solely by the creepy score (which is possibly the best thing about the whole film), and the whole thing is just cheap and sleazy, but not in a pleasant Tinto Brass way. More a discount baked beans way.
It’s best used as background noise while doing something else, with the occasional glance over to see which plot beat they’ve arrived at, or for the lengthy scenes of a naughty nature if that’s your thing. While the main character is fighting against being replaced by these creatures, I recommend replacing the disc in the player with something else entirely.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Wild Zero (1999)

Wild Zero is about as perfect a film for me as possible. It's ideal material for Diary of a Genre Addict, and above all it is deliriously entertaining in pretty much every respect. A Japanese cult flick including zombies, an alien invasion, quiffs and copious amounts of dirty rock n' roll? Why yes, that would be awesome. Right now I'm of the opinion that this is quite possibly the greatest film ever made.

It's loopy. Mad, violent, hilarious and ridiculously fun, Wild Zero is either a complete mess or a genuine masterpiece. Actually, it's probably both. This delightfully mental film tells the story of Ace, a rock n' roll obsessed young man with a massive love for the band Guitar Wolf (which grows until he ends up as their 'Rock n' Roll Blood Brother'), and his journey to rock n' roll glory while battling zombies, falling in love and trying to stay alive.An oncoming alien invasion brings the dead back to life, and thus legions of shambling cadavers are soon filling the streets and chomping on anyone stupid enough to get in their way. This description makes the film seem almost sane, but, dear reader, it most certainly isn't.
It's like Saturday morning cartoons, a mosh pit, Dawn of the Dead and Plan 9 from Outer Space all mixed together, but in Japanese and even more mental than any of those films. It is a delicious feast for anyone with a taste for the mad, the surreal and the obscure in their viewing.

Wild Zero is very, very silly, but hugely watchable. Japanese genre filmmakers really know how to keep the viewer entertained, even when their products can be as lunatic as this, not to mention nonsensical. The beauty of this stuff though is that it's not for people to pull apart and analyse.Films like Wild Zero, and especially Wild Zero, are there to be enjoyed at full volume, and can be enjoyed to a greater extent if you scream 'ROCK AND ROOOOOLLLLL' at every opportunity.

As well the zombies, spaceships, gore, mad characters and gloriously distorted rock music, there is a very sweet (and wonderfully unconventional) love story in there, and some great comedy moments between the mis-matched band of oddballs that are flung together in their fight for survival. Wild Zero is, in all honesty, one of the greatest films I have ever seen, and an absolute must for your collection. In any case, it's good training for the inevitable zombie apocalypse!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance (2007)

You know, I sat through the first Bloodrayne film, so I should have known better than to watch this one. The Bloodrayne movies are loosely based on the cult video game series of the same name, and Deliverance is the second in what quickly became a byword for the worst kind of video game adaptations.

While the first movie had a campy quality to it, not to mention a cast including Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Kristanna Loken and Michelle Rodriguez, Deliverance feels like a different property altogether. While the first was basically a big, mad fantasy movie with vampires, this second flick moves us forward in time (and indeed locale) to the Wild West, where a vampire cowboy with a comedy accent is killing the locals and having his henchmen take away their children.

Then comes Rayne (this time played by Natassia Malthe – Typhoid Mary in Elektra- instead of Kristanna Loken), the pouting bloodsucker with a pair of awesome blades and a permanent scowl. She teams up with local badasses and members of a secret society and sets about kicking some vampire ass.

When written down like this it doesn’t sound so awful, but when you sit through ninety minutes of low budget Wild West clich├ęs interspersed with some decent action sequences, it gets hard to suspend disbelief. If the decent scenes in this film were stacked up, you’d be left with a ten-minute fight sequence and a bunch of nicely staged gore, but when you watch the whole film, those moments of quality are spread out kinda thin.

The cast ham it up nicely, and Uwe Boll does a good job of hiding the limited budget, but the finished product looks and feels like a TV movie. The stock images during the opening titles are a nice touch, nicely setting up the era, but then we’re into b-movie territory, and not in a good way.

However, when all is said and done, and all geek bitching aside, Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance is just a video game movie, and can be quite entertaining with some snacks and a pack of beers. The Wild West setting and tropes may turn a few viewers off the idea, including me, as they are laid on so thick that you might start thinking they yelled ‘Yee-Haw!’ at the start of each take instead of ‘Action’. There’s blood, violence, darkness and Rayne pouting while kicking ass with her swords. If that’s your thing, then here’s a film you can sing your fangs into. Oh dear lord, did I just say that?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Goodbye to the Buy Pile

Well, it’s happened. Due to a combination of finances and dissatisfaction with what I’ve been buying, it’s time to say goodbye to my weekly fix of comics. I’ve got a bit tired of storylines with anticlimactic endings, multi-title crossovers, price rises and a general feeling of disappointment recently. I’m sure there is some wonderful work being published, but it’s either swamped by the dross or stuff that doesn’t appeal to me as a reader.

This decision may be down to a tough and turbulent period of my life, but it may also be down to the scene being flooded with too much material. I’ve long since been of the opinion that the comics industry, and in particular the big publishers, should slim- down their lines. Y’know, like just putting out 2 X-titles a month, 2 Batman or 2 Spider-man. All ongoing. We don’t actually need or want millions of titles, when all’s said and done.

As a veteran of far too many line-wide crossovers too, I’m sick of shelling out so much cash for stuff just to get the whole story. One problem with the industry right now is saturation of certain creators too, meaning a noticeable dip in quality across the line. I love Bendis and Straczynski and suchlike, but sometimes the sheer number of titles with the same creators is staggering. And no, I’m not going digital with comics either. I love technology, love my iPad and so on, but without the actual physical item to hold, enjoy, store and appreciate, there’s even less that appeals to me.

I’ll be visiting my local indie comic stores to pick up trades of stuff from time to time, but I’m feeling far too bombarded by the monthlies right now. Too much to read, not enough time or money. And thus, with a heavy heart, I must bring my buy pile to a close. No big climax, no earth-shattering ending, just an unfortunate fizzle. I hope something can bring me to my senses, but with DC’s reboot, Marvel’s million titles a month and patchy release schedules for lots of other titles, I can’t see it happening for a while. Have I got too jaded after twenty years of collecting and reading these 7x10 treasures?