Go Right

A weirdly inspirational video game themed music video.

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Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-10-31 10:08:00

Friday The 13th

1 hour 45 minutes

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…

As cheesy as they are, the big horror movies of the 80s have a certain charm to them. Cheesy as hell, outright stupid in places, but still always watchable. The Friday the 13th series, one of the biggest of the time, was arguably more serious than the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise – well, to begin with, at least – but it still had some moments of dumb fun before becoming outright silly in its final instalment, the downright hilarious Jason X. It’s probably worth mentioning that that was also my favourite entry in the series, a film comparable to Army of Darkness in terms of genre switch and sheer excellence. Since ‘reboots’ are the marketing buzzword of the week, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to do a more serious remake. The results are, predictably, less than great.

You all know the story: Jason Voorhees goes ballistic against a bunch of retarded horny teenagers. The film opens with a replay of the end of the first original film in the series, before skipping forward some years later. A group of teenagers are looking for the ultimate weed patch while on a camping trip. Within the space of the first 20 minutes, they’re all butchered mercilessly. We’re then introduced to a new bunch of teens, going to a plush woodland cabin for the weekend. Unfortunately, these guys last slightly longer, everyone resisting the temptation to off a new conveyor belt of idiots every 20 minutes.

(Incidentally, why hasn’t anyone done this in a movie yet? It’d be hilarious!)

This being a remake, there’s a slightly different take on the original concept: the idea of Jason going apeshit at a summer camp has been dropped, in favour of a more typical ‘house siege/running around the woods’-style story. Rather than the slaughter being spaced out evenly throughout the film, there’s one big blood orgy at the start, then pretty much nothing for about the next hour before the murders begin again in earnest. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the rest of the cast were even remotely likeable, but I haven’t wanted to see a bunch of idiot teens get ripped apart so badly since high school. There’s one guy, a stoner, who’s halfway cool, but, of course, he dies horribly. Jared Padalecki is probably the only person you’re likely to recognise, playing Clay, a guy looking for his sister, who was part of the group killed at the start. He’s also the only remotely sympathetic guy in the bunch, only emphasized by the fact that he’s pitted opposite Travis Van Winkle, playing, as Sir Laurence Olivier would put it, ‘a gigantic douche of no singular redeeming value’. Kudos to the guy for playing such an utterly convincing dick, but he doesn’t even get an interesting death, which highlights the other major problem of the film.

Let’s face it, you all watch these films for the same reasons: you want to see idiot people dying in fun and interesting ways. There’s no shame in it, that’s the primary draw of them, after all. But no, this is a Serious Reboot for Serious People. Can’t be having any of those wacky shenanigans here! So everyone gets offed in a variety of incredibly samey ways, every last one involving impalement or stabbing in some way or another. If you were one of those boring types who has to write a lengthy thesis or two on phallic imagery in modern cinematic blah de blah, you’d probably have a field day with this one. Me? I’ll be sitting over here, bored out my mind. And I still won’t be finding the film much more entertaining.

If there’s one thing the movie does right, it’s that there’s none of those knowing winks to camera. There’s a couple of musical cues that you might recognise, but other than that, it’s entirely fanservice free (if you don’t count the mandatory boobs, of course – this is the Extended Edition, after all). But really, I can’t remember the last time I saw a more boring movie, and that’s the last thing you want to say about any horror film. It counts double when you take into account that it’s based on a series that’s still popular nearly 30 years on. I don’t ask for much in my horror movies: I don’t mind if they don’t scare me, I don’t care if the effects look atrocious, but if they’re not entertaining, that’s an immediate fail right there, and Friday the 13th falls hard at that hurdle. Stick with the originals, kids, this isn’t worth your time.

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Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-08-30 12:37:00

The Boondock Saints

110 minutes

Two Irishmen, a Scotsman and six guns walk into a barfight…

Sometimes, it’s hard to know how serious a movie’s actually being. Was that cheesy one-liner a knowing wink in your direction, or was that the actor ‘emoting’? It’s an important thing to judge, since it can make the difference between a terrible movie and a hilarious one. Look at Shoot Em Up: everyone thought that was Serious Business and called it accordingly. Those of us who were actually in on the joke thought it was the most hilarious film ever and had a blast. So that puts The Boondock Saints in an awkward position. Shoot Em Up aims for audacity from the word go, while Boondock Saints…

Our heroes are twin brothers, Conner and Murphey MacManus who, if you couldn’t guess from the name, are as Oirish as Irish can be. Every time they appear at the beginning, there’s cheesy stereotypical Riverdance-style music, just to hammer the point home. After celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (of course) with a good old, home cooked barfight, the losers, a group of Russian mafiosos, track them down to their stylish hovel and get revenge on them. They’re forced to kill the mobsters in self-defence and hand themselves in to the police, where someone leaks their names for… some reason, and they quickly become minor celebrities, being dubbed the Saints. The pair have an epiphany of some description (again, not really described well) and decide that if killing two mobsters makes people like them lots, killing tons of mobsters will make people like them even more! And with this kind of excellent logic, the film proper begins.

At first, it’s hard to know where the film is going. With the constant background presence of the various mafia groups, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in for another grim and gritty crime drama, something with the moral ‘vengeance for its own sake never works’. But as you watch, things don’t quite pan out the way you expect. Ron Jeremy appears as a minion, with a… memorable scene in a porn shop. The action sequences get progressively more and more silly. And then Willem Defoe comes along and completely blows any and all pretences of this being a serious work out the water.

Y’see, Dafoe is easily the single best thing in this entire movie. Mainly because he’s the only one who seems to have grasped how entirely ludicrous the whole exercise is, and is intent on having as much fun with it as possible. So while everyone else is taking the film fairly seriously, he’s busy chewing up the scenery as a gay FBI agent, cheerfully sending it up left and right. By the time he starts describing (and enacting) the gunfight between the brothers and Billy Connelly, here playing a mob hitman by the name of Il Duche, a cigar the size of a small canoe wedged in his mouth the entire time, you’ve either turned the film off or you’re on the floor in stitches. The man makes the movie, and if it weren’t for him, it really wouldn’t be anything more than a bland, somewhat confused action movie. Even seeing him in painfully unconvincing drag doesn’t kill the movie, and that’s definitely something.

The ending loses all momentum, being a boring statement of intent that opens the door for a sequel (tl;dr “We’re gonna shoot this guy in the head now and you’re the lucky folks who get to see it! Tell the kids!”), Irish accents breaking badly every few seconds, which is a shame (and a little painful). If it had more courage of its convictions, it could’ve powered through and turned even that into something good. Even still, if you’re able to get the joke, this is a surprisingly good film once you get past the beginning. Just… someone tell Dafoe he shouldn’t have his legs apart when lying down wearing a skirt? Please?

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Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-07-29 00:52:00

Tokyo Gore Police

110 minutes

Blood, blood, gallons of the stuff, give them all that they can drink and it will never be enough

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: in the far-off year of 20XX, the police force has been privatized, and they now run around with tactical samurai armour and Steyr Augs. At the same time, a new threat to mankind has arisen: the Engineers. Engineers are modified humans who can form weapons out of any wounds they suffer. As the film opens, our heroine, Ruka, hacks at her arm with a blade, before being called out to deal with the latest Engineer, a man swinging around a chainsaw. After the police shoot the weapon out of his hand (and the hand still holding it for that matter), it swiftly sprouts a new chainsaw, covered in gore and muscle, that’s also attached to another chain, allowing him to swing it around and launch it. Ten seconds later, he’s the only one left standing. That’s when Ruka shows up, and after a short battle, slices the Engineer in two, vertically, blood spraying from the wounds like a fire hose.

Now, did you, at any point, stop me there? No, of course you didn’t. That’s because Tokyo Gore Police isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.

In terms of themes and style, this is pretty close to the Tetsuo movies (Tetsuo: The Iron Man and its sequel, Bodyhammer). But while those were very dark, the cinematic equivalent of a panic attack in a car crusher, this is… well, calling it ‘light-hearted’ or saying its ‘played for laughs’ doesn’t work so well. It’s not a film that takes itself seriously, by any measure, which is probably why it can even remotely get away with anything it does. The Tetsuo movies were good, but way too hard going, grinding the viewer down as they watched. This is a film with its tongue so far in its cheek, it bursts out the other side and becomes a shotgun, maiming a family of three.

How weird does it get? Well, let’s see, remember Robocop or Starship Troopers? The fake TV ads? They’re in here, ranging from ads encouraging people to join the police, to the stylish and cute ‘Wrist Cutter G’ (‘makes the blood taste sweeter’, apparently), to the most violent Wiimote attachment ever, to… It’s difficult to tell if they’re trying to make some statement on Japanese culture and law enforcement, or if they just sat around drinking one afternoon going “You know what’d be cool?” Then again, even in Robocop, half the ads seemed more like one-shot gags, so if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

Then there’s the mutations. Remember, this is a film where wounds = weapons. The guy with the chainsaw at the beginning? He’s smalltime. During one fight between Ruka and the big bad, she scores him across the face with her sword. So, he does what you’d expect anyone to do in this film and… no, I’m not spoiling that one for you, but the resulting weapon is definitely going to linger in your mind for a while. The body modification club/brothel, on the other hand, contains a dancer with a line of carpet staples across her breasts, another who’s become a snail woman, and a third who has altered her body so much, she’s become a chair. You read that right. It’s impressive in a way that, after all the tactical weirdness strikes assaulting you every other minute, seeing someone lactating acid barely even raises an eyebrow.

And then we have the violence. Hands up who’s seen Fist of the North Star? Any version will do. Or Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-Chan? Or Kill Bill, or Brain-Dead or anything like that? You know those moments where someone suffers a papercut, then, 5 seconds later (because there’s always a delayed reaction) the streets are running red and the wound’s spewing blood about a hundred feet in the air? That’s this film in a nutshell. If there’s even the slightest injury, it’ll bleed like a broken dam, to the point where Ruka’s actually pushed down a corridor by the force of one character’s injuries. Such high-pressure bleeding is even taken to its logical extreme in the final and oddly impressive moments of the film. As for the gore, well, imagine if the Power Rangers decided to go for an 18 cert with about half the budget. If papier mache and latex sprayed red gets your stomach churning, you might want to give this a miss. Otherwise, you’re probably going to be too busy laughing or rolling your eyes to notice.

In the end, Tokyo Gore Police is definitely a movie that lives up to its name. While other movies run on the Rule of Cool to get away with their more ludicrous stunts, TGP runs on the Rule of Sure Why Not. The police chief walks around everywhere with a pet gimp? Sure, why not. Random fight between a policewoman with a naginata and a schoolgirl with a boxcutter for an arm, neither of whom have had any significant screentime til now? Sure, why not. Woman turns herself into a chair? Sure, why not. After a while, it’s easier to just throw your hands up and say ‘y’know what, fine’ in an exasperated manner than call bullshit on anything. Tokyo Gore Police isn’t a film you watch for plot or story or anything mundane like that: you watch it, people explode, you go away wondering what the hell you just saw. Everyone needs to see something like that once in a while, and for that reason alone, this is probably mandatory viewing for most.

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Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-06-22 16:48:00

A

It is the year 1979. Star Wars is already well on the way to becoming an unstoppable cultural juggernaut. Buck Rogers is having shiny spacesuited adventures in the discos of the 25th century. Star Trek is slowly but surely making a comeback, reminding us all that peace, tolerance and Orion Love Slaves are the keys to making the galaxy just that little bit better. Space and the future is, in every way, a bright and happy place to be.

Alien changed all that.

We all know the story by now. In an unspecified future, a crew of glorified space truckers on the return trip to earth are awoken from suspension by a signal coming from a nearby planet. Investigating, they encounter a colossal derelict spaceship of unknown origin that seems to have been there forever. As they enter the ship, one of the crew disturbs an egg pod and winds up with an alien parasite attached to his face.

Hilarity does not ensue.

It’s interesting to note that, before Alien, there weren’t many horror movies set in space. Sure there were plenty of films in the 50s that used aliens as their star monsters, but very few that were actually set out in the black, and even fewer that stand up today as solid films in their own right. But 30 years on, Alien is still as effective in its shocks as it ever was. The duct hunt is tense, the scene with Harry Dean Stanton searching for the cat is played wonderfully, set to the sound of falling water and chains, and the famous chestburster scene still retains its impact, even after a million billion parodies of the scene.

The future in this universe is a worn down one. While the Millennium Falcon had a warm, almost friendly decrepitude to it, there’s no way you could describe the Nostromo as ‘homely’. With its cold interiors and identical corridors, it’s almost a forerunner to the cyberpunk movement that would come in the following years. The Nostromo is a corporate vessel through and through, and it’s a nice touch that it almost subliminally reinforces the idea that no matter what, this is an unfriendly place to be.

And, of course, how could we forget the real star: over six feet of relentless death and merciless instinct. I am, of course, talking about Sigourney Weaver the Alien itself. Ascribe all the rape and Freudian metaphors you want, the alien is one of the most terrifying creatures ever to stalk the screen. The director, Ridley Scott, wisely chose not to show the full alien at any point, always hiding it in shadow or closeup, and it becomes all the more terrifying for it. Even with more recent films seemingly doing their damnedest to destroy the mystique of the beast, the original maintains an inhuman menace few other movie monsters have ever managed to achieve. H.R. Geiger has been repeatedly screwed over by Hollywood in the decades since, which is a shame, since the potential to see more monsters and landscapes based on his art would’ve been like mainlining pure nightmare fuel.

The Director’s Cut doesn’t add or alter as much, compared to the DCs of the other movies in the series. There’s a few extended scenes, a couple added, but more interesting is that some scenes have actually been trimmed or outright deleted. Granted, most of these are just people walking around, staring intently at things, that kind of nonsense. It’s a shame that the DC doesn’t add as much as I’d like, but maybe it’s a testament of sorts to the movie that it doesn’t really need it. Everything’s already there to begin with, padding it out any further is superfluous.

Alien is a classic, not just of the genre, but full stop. While the series would eventually take a slightly different turn into outright action over the years, the slow-burning tension is, without a doubt, the perfect introduction to the series, and as it stands alone, one of the best horror/thrillers ever made.

Next Time: That One Film Everyone Knows

Comments off

Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-06-22 16:48:00

A

It is the year 1979. Star Wars is already well on the way to becoming an unstoppable cultural juggernaut. Buck Rogers is having shiny spacesuited adventures in the discos of the 25th century. Star Trek is slowly but surely making a comeback, reminding us all that peace, tolerance and Orion Love Slaves are the keys to making the galaxy just that little bit better. Space and the future is, in every way, a bright and happy place to be.

Alien changed all that.

We all know the story by now. In an unspecified future, a crew of glorified space truckers on the return trip to earth are awoken from suspension by a signal coming from a nearby planet. Investigating, they encounter a colossal derelict spaceship of unknown origin that seems to have been there forever. As they enter the ship, one of the crew disturbs an egg pod and winds up with an alien parasite attached to his face.

Hilarity does not ensue.

It’s interesting to note that, before Alien, there weren’t many horror movies set in space. Sure there were plenty of films in the 50s that used aliens as their star monsters, but very few that were actually set out in the black, and even fewer that stand up today as solid films in their own right. But 30 years on, Alien is still as effective in its shocks as it ever was. The duct hunt is tense, the scene with Harry Dean Stanton searching for the cat is played wonderfully, set to the sound of falling water and chains, and the famous chestburster scene still retains its impact, even after a million billion parodies of the scene.

The future in this universe is a worn down one. While the Millennium Falcon had a warm, almost friendly decrepitude to it, there’s no way you could describe the Nostromo as ‘homely’. With its cold interiors and identical corridors, it’s almost a forerunner to the cyberpunk movement that would come in the following years. The Nostromo is a corporate vessel through and through, and it’s a nice touch that it almost subliminally reinforces the idea that no matter what, this is an unfriendly place to be.

And, of course, how could we forget the real star: over six feet of relentless death and merciless instinct. I am, of course, talking about Sigourney Weaver the Alien itself. Ascribe all the rape and Freudian metaphors you want, the alien is one of the most terrifying creatures ever to stalk the screen. The director, Ridley Scott, wisely chose not to show the full alien at any point, always hiding it in shadow or closeup, and it becomes all the more terrifying for it. Even with more recent films seemingly doing their damnedest to destroy the mystique of the beast, the original maintains an inhuman menace few other movie monsters have ever managed to achieve. H.R. Geiger has been repeatedly screwed over by Hollywood in the decades since, which is a shame, since the potential to see more monsters and landscapes based on his art would’ve been like mainlining pure nightmare fuel.

The Director’s Cut doesn’t add or alter as much, compared to the DCs of the other movies in the series. There’s a few extended scenes, a couple added, but more interesting is that some scenes have actually been trimmed or outright deleted. Granted, most of these are just people walking around, staring intently at things, that kind of nonsense. It’s a shame that the DC doesn’t add as much as I’d like, but maybe it’s a testament of sorts to the movie that it doesn’t really need it. Everything’s already there to begin with, padding it out any further is superfluous.

Alien is a classic, not just of the genre, but full stop. While the series would eventually take a slightly different turn into outright action over the years, the slow-burning tension is, without a doubt, the perfect introduction to the series, and as it stands alone, one of the best horror/thrillers ever made.

Next Time: That One Film Everyone Knows

Comments off