Friday, 27 June 2014



Amazing? No, not really. Since this is the fifth Spider-man movie in twelve years and the second Part 2 in a decade, the one thing it's now almost impossible for Spider-man to be is Amazing. The Frankly Unnecessary, Wildly Overblown And Way Too Long Spider-Man 2, more like, but presumably that didn't look good on the poster, and Oh No Not Again was already taken. Because we've seen the angst before, with Peter Parker torn between his love for Gwen (or Mary Jane in the Raimi films) and his need to protect her from Spider-man's enemies, with his need to find out what really happened to his parents, with his need to keep his identity secret....

It looks like the makers are aware of this potential lack of amazement, and to compensate they've ramped up the CGI to the point where it's sometimes incoherent on a medium-sized multiplex screen in 2D. God alone knows what it's like from the front row of a 3D IMAX screen. Nowhere in The Amazing Spider-man 2 is this more apparent than the climactic face-off between Spidey and Electro, a supervillain created when downtrodden, mild-mannered electrician Max (Jamie Foxx) falls into a giant vat of electric eels (as you do) and is reborn as a glow-in-the-dark combination of Dr Manhattan and the Emperor Palpatine, firing lightning bolts from his fingers. With him, Spidey and the camera all whizzing around surrounded by electric squiggles, you lose any sense of perspective or where the combatants are in relation to each other, or indeed Planet Earth.

In addition there's Harry Osgood, Peter's childhood friend who believes Spider-man's blood can alleviate the terminal disease he's inherited, and when he's refused he turns to the dark side and inevitably turns into a secondary supervillain who isn't specifically named as The Green Goblin but will apparently return in the third one sometime in 2016 (they already have a 2018 release date pencilled in for The By Now Frankly Tiresome Spider-Man 4). Their big fight scene takes place immediately after Electro's, so by then you're already exhausted, and things don't turn out too well....

I actually didn't mind Marc Webb's last Spidey reboot: I vastly preferred it to the Raimi films which were no fun at all. But it probably doesn't matter as it's Spider-man: like The Incredible Hulk he always seemed to be a stupid idea for a superhero. Neither Raimi nor Webb were able to put much emotional weight on the concept anyway because it's a primary-coloured cartoon for small children and it looks faintly silly when you're still watching it as a hairy adult. And this latest instalment doesn't need to be 142 minutes long, for crying out loud. Most bizarrely of all, the film forsakes the now traditional post-credits teaser usually reserved by the Marvel Universe for the next film in the series, instead including a promotional clip from X-Men: Days Of Future Past (which, thanks to a quirk of cinema scheduling, I actually saw a few weeks back). Sadly (or not), this does not promise the foaming nerdgasm of an X-Men/Spider-man crossover; it's just a bonus from the marketing departments.

The sad fact is that for much of the time I was bored. During the angsty bits I was bored because I've now reached the point where I don't care any more, and during the whizzbang CGI I was bored because it's just animated mayhem that's got no more grounding in reality than a Tom and Jerry cartoon. For all the incredible detail in the CGI effects it's still dull. And the film is nowhere near as fun as it should be: aside from a hilarious Mad European Scientist it's desperately short on levity. the Marvel Avengers team have cracked the formula but Spider-man hasn't. (Nor have Batman or Superman.) I wanted to like TASM2, because the first one was a fairly pleasant surprise, but for all the spectacle and mayhem it's just not that exciting or amazing.




I really want to get this out of the way quickly because it's simply one of the most insufferable films of recent years. I honestly can't remember being so annoyed by any of the year's releases (with the possible exception of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, and it was obvious that was going to stink anyway): it's stupid, irritating, takes a ridiculous amount of time to go absolutely nowhere and does nothing when it gets there. It's nicely photographed, but that it.

Set slightly in the future when the next generation of home operating systems include intuition and sentience, Her details the love affair between letter-writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix with 70s comedy/porn moustache) and his new OS, voiced by an unseen Scarlett Johansson. To begin with "Samantha" is a terrific assistant: efficiently clearing his backlog of emails and helping him with an interactive video game that involves swearing at some kind of alien baby. But the relationship develops in strange ways, strangest of which is sexual: "Samantha" wants to become human, to have a real body and even goes so far as to (independently) obtain a sex surrogate to act out her role! (Cue approximately ten minutes of me bellowing "This is stupid!" and miscellaneous profanities at the screen.) Eventually, she leaves him, which probably isn't covered in the manufacturer's warranty.

What Theodore learns from Samantha is precisely nothing: he's surrounded by beautiful, glamorous women (Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Portia Doubleday) who in any sane universe would be as far out of his league as Martians; he's in with a shot at all of them yet prefers to cuddle up with his cellphone because, what, it understands him? What Samantha learns from Theodore is the inability to complete a coherent sentence, resorting to sweary mumbling and, oh, I don't know, it's like... f***, you know... I don't know, it's just... f***. And this meandering, mumbly, noodly nonsense goes on for over two hours. With Under The Skin, this makes two terrible Scarlett Johansson films this year and it's only June. Absolute toss.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014



In recent years it's sometimes seemed that the art of a good solid scary movie has been lost. For all the horror films that turn up, few are actively frightening and unsettling, opting for the easier techniques of sudden jump shocks and splashy gore over the more difficult and far rarer skill of creating a genuinely terrifying atmosphere. I'd suggest that one of the secrets is to use the mundane and everyday: for all the corpses and Cenobites and hammer murders, the really horrible moment of Hellraiser is when Andy Robinson gashes his hand on a nail, because we've all done that (or similar) so we recognise that pain in a way we don't when it comes to being ripped apart by steel chains. Castle Dracula may be all cobwebs and dungeons and creaking doors, but an audience can empathise so much more when the mayhem takes place in ordinary houses and flats because that's where most of us live and that could be your bedroom.

James Wan realised this with Insidious (less so with Insidious: Chapter 2): a believable domestic setting works because we recognise it. The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh and (mostly) When The Lights Went Out pulled the trick off as well. And to a great extent, so does The Apparition, an efficient and effective haunting movie in which something is targeting a young couple in their brand new home. Right from the start there's something not quite right: moving furniture, mould growing on the ceiling, the neighbour's dog. Obviously it's got something to do with the ill-advised paranormal experiment carried out in the opening reel....

It's really not much more than an episode of Paranormal Activity, but it's considerably better done and far scarier, without resorting to the tired found footage schtick that got dull about a decade ago. Most of the time The Apparition works very well and achieves that delicious (and all too rare) feeling of "can't look, must look" that had me peeking through my fingers. One brilliant moment in particular has the heroine nailing a door shut to keep the demon out, only to suddenly find she's on the other side of the door and has nailed herself in with the demon. I enjoyed it a lot on a fairly sunny afternoon, if I'd watched it alone in the flat at 10pm I'd probably have had to switch it off and try to sleep with all the lights on. Well worth seeing.

[Slightly edited for bad grammar.]



Tuesday, 24 June 2014



Well, it's not the worst McG film ever made, but that's pretty much all it's got going for it. It's better than the second Charlie's Angels film (I actually quite liked the first one as a completely empty piece of idiotic whizzbang fluff but it was an idea that [1] ran out of steam very quickly and [2] was frankly better done in the ridiculous DOA: Dead Or Alive), and it's certainly better that the despicable This Means War, but when a director's best film is Terminator: Salvation, things ain't going well. On the other hand, in the pantheon of Luc Besson's thuddingly silly but glossy Eurothrillers it's easily the least of the bunch, beating even the likes of Colombiana and From Paris With Love and clearly never coming within a parsec of The Transporter.

In 3 Days To Kill, Kevin Costner is a veteran CIA agent who fails to catch international terrorists The Wolf and The Albino on account of his terminal brain tumour. Seeking to set his affairs in order and reconnect with the wife and daughter (Connie Neilsen, Hailee Steinfeld) who he neglected in favour of his spying career, he's recruited by ssssmokin' agent Amber Heard (in a variety of wigs and sexy outfits) to track down the bad guys and execute them in return for an experimental drug that might save his life, or at least give him some family time. In order to take down The Wolf and The Albino he has to find The Accountant, by first contacting the man who provides the limo service - in short, a series of videogame levels Costner must get through in order to finally confront the main villain....

You can't accuse the film of being short on incident: Costner also has to beat up an incompetent assassin in a boulangerie, duff up the four youths molesting his daughter in a nightclub toilet, teach his daughter to ride a bicycle, AND help out the African immigrant family squatting in his flat, all while suffering from mild hallucinations caused by the wonder drug. There's torture, knockabout comedy, an entirely gratuitous scene in a strip club (where the demands of a PG13 rating have forced them to add smoke in front of the naked girls so you can't see anything), a decent enough car chase, and lots of people bloodlessly killed.

It's an awkward sub-True Lies mix of domestic sitcom and action thriller, which culminates in a desperately shoddy bit of screenwriting with a ludicrously contrived coincidence that needs to happen so the film can end but makes little or no sense as a logical plot development - out of the two million people in Paris, the boyfriend's dad's business partner just happens to be the one bloke Costner's on the hunt for. But the fact is that the comedy isn't nearly funny enough (the main joke being the conflict between Costner's family and his secret spy job), and the teen-friendly certificate means the violence isn't allowed to have much oomph behind it. 3 Days To Kill is mostly terrible, but it's not terrible enough to get angry with, just terrible enough to be unimpressed with. Plus it doesn't have nearly enough Amber Heard in it.


Friday, 20 June 2014



I'm really not the biggest fan of the X-Men. I didn't care that much for the first two films so I wasn't that bothered when the mighty Bryan Singer was replaced by the somewhat less than mighty Brett Ratner for The Last Stand, and if I'm being totally honest if you showed me a scene from one of those three I couldn't tell you which one it was or who had directed it. Like Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, and unlike the ongoing Marvel Avengers series, I desperately wanted them to lighten up and stop being so glum and serious all the time. These films are supposed to be fun, not gloomy Bergmanesque examinations of the (super)human condition, and happily they did lighten up a bit. X-Men First Class was lighter, and more enjoyable, as was last year's The Wolverine.

This time around, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has to go back in time so you get the regular X-Men from the present day as well as their younger selves from First Class. In an indeterminate alternative future the Earth has been ravaged by Sentinels: robots tasked not just with exterminating mutants but any regular humans who might have mutant children. Hiding out in a Chinese temple, Wolverine's consciousness is sent back in time by old Magneto and Xavier (Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart) into his early 70s body, tasked with uniting their own younger selves (Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy) to stop young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the Sentinels' creator Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), as it's this moment that will ultimately lead to the Sentinels' manufacture and the subsequent slaughter....

I probably had more fun with X-Men: Days Of Future Past than any of the previous X-Men entries, as it generally doesn't have those scenes of massive urban destruction we've seen too often in comic-book movies (and others) and which are starting to get more than a little boring now. For another thing, there are less of the mutants to keep track of: one of the ongoing problems I've had with the series has been forgetting who are the good mutants and who are the evil ones, and indeed which ones have survived previous instalments, but in this one it doesn't really matter as only a few are left and they're now all on the same side. You could perhaps argue that the film doesn't do much in the way of gender representation, with women restricted mainly to Ellen Page clinging onto the future Wolverine to keep him alive and Jennifer Lawrence cavorting about in the blue nudey suit, but in truth it's not something I had a problem with.

The best individual moment of the film belongs to Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who can operate at superspeed so everything is slowed down to the point where he can pluck flying bullets from the air, and that's probably the sequence that would have worked best in 3D. (I was happy to watch it in 2D where it played perfectly well.) Somewhat inevitably, the film does end with the obligatory teaser for the next film in the saga, X-Men: Apocalypse which Wikipedia suggests isn't due for another two years! And then there's another Wolverine movie....Well, frankly, if they're as good as Days Of Future Past I'm not about to object as I generally enjoyed it more than any of the earlier films. Not perfect, but well worth seeing.




Note to filmmakers. Please, please, please spend a little money on having your film graded so it doesn't look like your video camera was straight out of the box. I know budgets are tight but if you're going to charge people to view your work then it should look at least slightly better than it would if I'd been your cinematographer. I'm not expecting quickie horror movies to look like they were shot on 70mm by the greatest DP who ever walked the Earth but when they not only have the production values of homemade gonzo pornography but the visual feel as well, the rest of the movie - acting, writing, directing and so on - needs to be apocalyptically good to make up for it looking like it was filmed by your mum. Sadly, I guess it goes without saying that the acting, writing, directing etc. on Sick Boy are so far away from "apocalyptically good" that the line between them can be seen from space.

Skye McCole Bartusiak is hired as a phenomenally expensive babysitter ($400 a night) for an unseen and very ill child, with strict instructions Not To Go Downstairs And Certainly Not To Try And Open The Padlocked Room In The Basement Under Any Circumstances Whatsoever. Unfortunately, she's probably the biggest moron ever to walk the Earth, who has apparently made it her life's mission to make the stupidest possible decision in any given situation. To wait until she's spent $15,000 on dental training before deciding to throw in her new job as a dental nurse. To not call the police upon finding a dead body. And to go downstairs for absolutely no reason at all....

Sick Boy wastes time: it takes over twenty minutes to even get her to the house when literally everything that happens up to that point could have been dealt with in half a dozen lines of dialogue, and the whole film only lasts for eighty minutes. In the last ten minutes we finally get some gore but it's way too late to salvage the movie. Rubbish, and not just rubbish but boring rubbish, stupid rubbish, and visually ugly rubbish.


Saturday, 14 June 2014



Well, it's not the worst film Danny Dyer has appeared in, but merely being less rubbish than Basement or Doghouse (or, saints preserve us, Run For Your Wife) is scarcely something to be proud of: it's not unlike like a football team losing eight-one rather than their usual eight-nil. At the very least it looks decent, and it has some moments of satisfying nastiness, but at its heart it's really a piece of sub-Statham thickear thuggery that even The Man Himself would have thought twice about ten years ago.

Essentially Vendetta is an origins story attempting to set up an urban vigilante franchise (the film ends with the caption "Jimmy Vickers Will Return", which is listed on the IMDb but frankly seems about as likely as Dyer's promised Run For Your Wife sequel, at least given Dyer's commitments to EastEnders). Danny Dyer is Jimmy Vickers, British Army Super Elite Special Forces Hard Bastard whose parents were brutally murdered by a repulsive gang of Sarf London lowlifes; with the occasional help of a sympathetic copper he tracks the culprits down and exacts due (and imaginative) punishment. Matters are complicated by the Army wanting their man back, while the leading police officer who did nothing about the original murders sees Vickers' capture as a career opportunity, regardless of the cost....

The genius of the original Death Wish is that the Charles Bronson character isn't ex-Marines or a retired Navy SEAL, but an architect; making the hero of this kind of film a tough military type means he's capable of casually killing the yobbos right from the start. It saves screen time, and provides a snappy poster tagline like "They messed with the wrong guy!", but frankly it's more interesting when the heroes are architects or office workers or plumbers. (See also Anything For Her and its US remake The Next Three Days, a prison break film where the hero is a schoolteacher and has to learn about the criminal underworld from scratch.)

Vendetta is all very empty, very sweary, unashamedly pro-vigilante (even moreso than Outlaw and Straightheads, which at least had characters unsure how far they wanted to go) and occasionally descending to shouty rhetoric. Sure it's nice to see Bruce Payne as Scary Government Man, and Dynasty's Emma Samms has a couple of early scenes as Dyer's mum. But Danny Dyer is as charmless as ever; the only reason you're on his side is because his antagonists are such despicable scum. It's not that you like him, you just hate him less: they're rapists, murderers and drug dealers, so Dyer is the good guy more or less by default. That's really not enough and, for all the righteously cheery violence and nice photography, it ends up as a low-rent and charisma-free London reboot of The Punisher. Still better than Basement though.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014



The curse of the generic horror movie title strikes doubly with this Australian slasher nonsense: not only is it nothing to do with the portmanteau Nightmares or the rubbish video nasty Nightmares In A Damaged Brain (also known as just the singular Nightmare), but under its alternative title Stage Fright it also has nothing to do with the Hitchcock thriller or Michele Soavi's terrific Stagefright. You could be forgiven for mistaking it for Damaged Brain as both films share a plot device involving a young child seeing its mother having sex, and you could be forgiven for mistaking it for Soavi's film as they both share a backstage theatrical setting. But that's it for similarities.

Nightmares is actually a semi-giallo with several scenes of naked women (and men) getting bloodily slashed with broken glass. As a child young Helen accidentally killed her mother by causing her to crash the car while being groped by her boyfriend: she grows up with a strange attitude to sex. Now, as a struggling stage actress (Jenny Neumann) she's won a part in a hilariously terrible "comedy of death" melodrama, but someone is bumping off the cast and backstage crew....

It's not much of a whodunnit as the killer's identity is obvious throughout and the reveal holds no surprise, to the extent you actually feel a little cheated there wasn't some twist in there. More damagingly it's shoddily put together, with bad editing throughout and too frequent recourse to the killer's POV stumbling through what looks to be the same bit of backstage clutter (with the same snippet of Brian "no, not that one" May's score running underneath it). But there is fun to be had, if you can buy into the wayward loopiness that's frankly part of the charm of exploitation movies: there are laughs from the waspish Director and the sneering Critic, the violence against naked women would not have made it past James Ferman's scissors back in the day (assuming anyone would have bothered to submit it for a video certificate), and the backstage labyrinth of even the smallest of theatres is always a good setting for these things.

None of which excuses the fact that it really doesn't work. It's never boring, it looks decent enough (a reminder that properly shot 35mm will always kick digital's backside, particularly the colour-drained and ungraded variety of digital we see too much of in horror movies these days), but in the end it's a curiosity, one of the less well-known Australian genre movies of the era that's perhaps been overlooked that just isn't up with the greats. Not abysmal, but a long way from essential. Soavi's film, which is pretty loopy itself, still rules.


Saturday, 7 June 2014



It's only the coincidence of timing that makes the two films particularly comparable anyway, but on the scale of fictionalised memoirs of relative commoners marrying into 20th Century European Royalty and ultimately coming to a tragic end in a car accident (off screen) - and played by Australian actresses - this is much better than Diana. Not difficult, of course: Diana was mostly terrible but not terrible enough to have any fun with, mediocre more than anything else, but while Olivier Dahal's film does some genuinely bizarre things it's at least entertaining enough while doing them. Ignore the "inspired by actual events" caption at the start and treat it as a Danielle Steele miniseries for American television, because that's about the level it's playing on: a US primetime soap opera. (Dynasty even had an end-of-season cliffhanger when the whole family of oil barons jetted over to Madeupvania so the blonde daughter could marry a European Prince - and bride Catherine Oxenberg was actually related to Yugoslav royalty!)

Like Diana, Grace Of Monaco takes place after the fairytale wedding: Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) is no longer a Hollywood film star but an ordinary, though admittedly massively pampered, housewife and mother. She's feeling cast aside and ignored by Prince Rainier (Tim Roth), thinking about going back into acting (Hitchcock turns up to offer her the lead in Marnie) and her only real confidante is Frank Langella as a priest; meanwhile Charles De Gaulle and the boo-hiss French are planning to invade unless Monaco abandons its tax haven status and essentially bails France out after their Algerian wars...Robert Lindsay puts on a funny accent as Onassis, Paz Vega shows up as Maria Callas. There's a spy in the palace, a traitor, scheming relatives, gaggles of society harridans making a great show of their minimal humanitarian contributions; meanwhile Grace has to go to Protocol School to be educated in the ways of aristocratic conduct by Sir Derek Jacobi (that is how he's credited).

It's sumptuously mounted Sunday evening tosh of the first water and generally passes the time perfectly painlessly unless you take it at all seriously; and taking it seriously may be why it got booed at the Cannes Film Festival. (Alternatively it may have been booed because the French are quite plainly the bad guys, although these days it's tough to muster up much sympathy for tax havens.) There are strange touches such as Olivier Dahal's unaccountable predilection for holding Kidman's face in such merciless close-up you expect her breath to mist up the camera lens: I sat on the front row of the Cineworld Milton Keynes Delux Screen 9 and could practically count her nasal hairs and the blood vessels in her eyeballs. It's a bizarre choice and more distracting than anything else.

But in all honesty I didn't hate nearly as much as expected, given the almost global kick in the knackers it's had from the critics, and the idea that's the worst film of any year that includes Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones or The Legend Of Hercules is frankly ridiculous. Treat it as a work of fiction (which from some accounts it is anyway) and it's an enjoyable enough, sometimes absurd, old-fashioned Hollywood costume frippery of the type they stopped making more than half a century ago. Far better than the disastrous Diana, it's almost certainly not going to be anyone's finest entry on their IMDb page, but I had enough of a good time with it. And any film in which someone turns up doing Alfred Hitchcock is fine by me.


Thursday, 5 June 2014



Not every cheap 80s slasher movie could be a Friday The 13th Part IV, or even a He Knows You're Alone. Even back then in the subgenre's heyday it wasn't enough to just wheel on a bunch of pretty people and kill them off one by one with power tools and sharp objects; you still had to be a little bit inventive and do it with at least a hint of style and flair. Thirty years on, it's almost beside the point to mention that the plots make no sense and everyone behaves completely illogically - that's perhaps part of the charm of the 80s slasher film - but some of them still managed to be enjoyable, some of them were reasonably well put together, and a few even ended up as actually pretty impressive (Rosemary's Killer). Many, however, didn't.

Rocktober Blood kicks off with Billy-Eye, the lead singer of a metal rock band, suddenly turning psycho and killing 25 people (regrettably, 23 of them are offscreen): sole survivor Lynn is the backing singer and spurned love interest who identifies him. Two years on and the band is still going, now fronted by Lynn and renamed Headmistress (which even I think is probably the least impressive name imaginable for a thrash rock group, just behind Dry White Wine or The Tweed Librarian Ensemble). But it seems that Billy-Eye is back, terrorising Lynn and murdering everyone around her, yet mysteriously no-one notices the disappearances and just assumes the missing girls have gone off to San Francisco or something.

Is Billy-Eye really back from the grave? Is someone else pretending to be Billy-Eye? Or is it all in her imagination? Sadly the film never reaches the point where you might actually care and the revelation is ludicrous. It ultimately ends up with the maniac performing the tedious heavy metal songs on stage, casually murdering the backing vocalists on stage with his pointy microphone stand and then handcuffing himself to the heroine for his big number that even includes the lyric "When you least expect it, I will attack!". Rocktober Blood is a cheap, occasionally nasty but mostly dull slasher for the drive-in market written, directed, designed, produced and photographed by Ferd and Beverly Sebastian, who also made the trashy Gator Bait. (He's now an ordained minister and she's a spokeswoman for the National Greyhound Association.)

It's got moments of gore, gratuitous nudity, a midnight trip to the cemetery, terrible songs, a terrible title, and a general air of silliness; but in truth it's probably no worse than many C-grade horrors of the time. Indeed it's indisputably leagues better than something like Graduation Day or Final Exam, but that's hardly a plus point. This is also a film that's had no distribution in the UK and yet again the only feasible option - very much a least worst choice - is a YouTube upload from someone who's seen it and doesn't want to be the only one to suffer. Thanks, chum.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014



And still they come: yet another tedious teen horror movie in which a bunch of obnoxious scumbags don't get killed nearly bloodily enough to raise the slightest flicker of interest in what happens to them. As is so often the case, the filmmakers don't know how to write any interesting and sympathetic characters, so they make one of the group so morally repugnant, so vile and hateful, that everyone else seems tolerable by comparison. And in this instance we have a loudmouthed and arrogant prick so thoroughly despicable that he actually becomes more of a human being when he's suddenly possessed by Satan. Admittedly the character does have reasons for being a thundering arsehole, but even so you shouldn't be compelled into siding with the smallest dumbass in the room as the least worst option.

Four teens are so boneheadedly idiotic they decide it would be a brilliant idea to hide out in the local morgue and perform a seance so they can prove the existence of an afterlife. One of them brings a video camera along because he's a delusional halfwit who thinks he's going to make the greatest student film ever, one's a violently shouty imbecile who thinks it's a hilarious prank to lock one of the girls in a freezer full of corpses. One of the girls is a Santeria prietess, and the other is a born-again Christian with a painfully melodramatic backstory, and all of them are dumb as a plate of cold tripe and deserve to die at least twice. Inevitably their seance goes wrong, leaving the door to the spirit world open so the violently shouty imbecile gets possessed by the Devil and kills the camera guy....

Seance: The Summoning is billed as "From an executive producer of Hellraiser", which is technically true (Christopher Webster was EP on Hellraiser and producer here) but meaningless as he's not the creative voice of the film so it's like billing The Cannonball Run as "From the producer of The Godfather". You might as well bill it as "From the Dialogue Editor of Ski School II" for all the relevance it has. It makes no sense: the Devil is eventually taken down by one teenage Christian whose soul is damned anyway and one girl who converted to Christianity about ten minutes previously, and at no point do they ever consider that they never did bother to close the door to the spirit realm. Boring, stupid, and pretty much entirely worthless; if this is the best you can do it's probably better for all mankind if you give it up now, and go and open a carwash or a tapas bar somewhere.




Here's yet another late 1980s top-shelf sex thriller which seems to have dropped through the distribution cracks from the genre's VHS glory days and which now looks to have vanished. In truth that's not entirely surprising because it's a whole bunch of not very good: an amusing and enjoyable enough mixture of glossy softcore and psycho ranting, but it's illogical, contrived, far too long and has a body count of zero. It's a pity that the only source appears to be a YouTube upload from a VHS tape: a decent quality would DVD would look a lot better.

Lady Beware kicks off with Diane Lane landing a job as a radical window dresser for a huge department store, where she immediately starts creating outlandish and kinky tableaux with scantily clad dummies and whipped cream. Despite being apparently jobless up to this point, she's living in the kind of enormous loft apartment you could exercise horses in: a prime two acres of real estate that even the Sultan of Brunei would probably have to ask for a discount on the rental. Unfortunately, her window displays have attracted the attention of the X-ray technician and revolting pervert across the road, who breaks into her apartment, steals her mail, makes dirty phone calls, and even has sex with her clothing at one point, which I'm pretty certain isn't a recommended seduction technique. If only he'd leave a massive clue to his identity so that she could easily track him down and end the nightmare....

This is precisely the sort of sleazy "erotic thriller" that would come out in the wake of Basic Instinct a few years later: that kind of tacky but not actually pornographic romp that A Gregory Hippolyte (a pseudonym for porn director Greg Dark) would make his own with absurd shagathons like Night Rhythms and Animal Instincts. It's reasonably glossy to look at, the score is all tinkling electric pianos and sultry sax, and while it's got enough nudity to get it an 18 certificate it generally stays reasonably discreet. But it's too long, too silly, and the psycho doesn't even bother to raise the stakes by killing anyone. Mostly rubbish.