Bad Boys: And some Skittles

Join me, if you will, in 1995. I’m 11. Our household is quite heavily into basketball, Fresh Prince (even though we don’t understand half the sexy jokes), and beating each other up. Still.

So what do you think happened when we found out that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were gonna be in an action movie, with guns, bad guys, guns, swearing, fast cars, and guns? You guessed it. Meet me on the corner by the video shop, guys. Friday, 6pm, bring your Skeleton warriors glow in the dark pyjamas (so we can match, natch) and your special fried rice.

In a bizarre ritual of which I never understood the licensing loopholes, before you were able to purchase the videos for real, wrapped in cellophane, with a bunch of leaflets inside beckoning you to purchase a crappy tshirt (“IF YOU SEE THE POLICE – WARNER BROTHER!”) or some orthopaedic shoes, you were able to procur the VHS tapes as ex-rentals. Not much difference in quality, I’m not sure how many other people who lived in Abington, Northampton were renting the Ewoks cartoon, but they came in a different box. The massive, weird, heavy, and, as we discovered exercising some of our bottomless sibling-based rage, quite dangerous rental box. The questions surrounding this were endless. Where are the real boxes? Whose job is it to swap the covers out? What are they made of that doesn’t break when you throw them off the roof at your brother? None of this was ever answered, but it didn’t matter. I loved Bad Boys so much, that once again, to save herself money, my long suffering mother purchased this movie for us ex-rental, such was the cost of keeping us in bubblicious Friday nights. And once again, I watched it every Monday before school until the next big favourite came along/the tape was worn down to a macroscopically thin band, probably snapping in the machine.

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The Eclipse – True Past Death

“Then she knew. She knew that she was seeing a ghost, and she realized for perhaps the first time in her life, that she too would die. That her husband would die. And that her children would die. She knew in that moment, that she was looking at reality”

Is it a scarier prospect that ghosts are real, or just inventions of the mind? This is one of the fundamental questions wrestled with in the little watched Irish film “The Eclipse.” It is a film that focuses on loss, and how the people we love fill spaces in our world that don’t close easily when they’re gone. It is about holding onto whatever is left, even pain, in order to avoid forgetting, and how that can turn toxic and limiting. The film is a hybrid of a slow paced character study, relationship drama and horror. It borrows all sorts of tricks from the latter to ramp up tension and even provides a few jump scares and ghost sightings. Using voyeuristic camera angles, shots from inside darkened rooms and just behind railings or bushes, it gives the whole film a feeling of dread lurking just outside the frame. But this dread isn’t usually of the typical horror manner, it isn’t a chainsaw wielding maniac or vengeful spirit manifesting itself to expel intruders. The dread is of a more human kind. When someone loses a wife, a mother, a child or anyone really, what do they hold onto ultimately to keep their life from spinning out of control?

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Thirty Five Years* of Lycanthrope Love – An American Werewolf in London

“A naked American man stole my balloons”

Backpacking and travelling around the world with nothing but the clothes on your back and the stuff in your rucksack used to be all the rage. This is almost certainly why Jack and David, two clean cut all American youths and the main players in John Landis’ tale of hirsute supernatural monstrosities find themselves rambling through the wind-blasted moors of the North of England in the middle of winter. I don’t know which tourist guide told them that this was the hip and happening pace to be in the early eighties, but whichever one it was should be ripped into pieces, set on fire and buried in a deep hole.  Anyway, it starts to rain so they seek shelter in a local pub called The Slaughtered Lamb, which is a proper local watering hole for locals only and Landis makes this abundantly clear when the strangers walk in by ensuring that everyone in the crowded establishment shuts the fuck up as soon as they walk in and then stare at the poor innocents abroad as though they were a posh red wine from somewhere like Tuscany. Which, anywhere north of Watford in the early eighties, was a big no-no and in some places was enough to get you run out of town.

Soon enough though, it’s all laughs and banter as the teacher from Kes, Rick from The Young Ones and a whole host of other bit players accept their new comrades into their drinking club and all is going swimmingly until our clueless heroes start asking questions about the Pentagram on the wall, at which point they’re kicked to the curb, thrown out in the rain and warned in no uncertain terms to stay off the moors. As they walk out of the pub and the locals’ lives, there’s a lot of hand wringing and chatter in the pub about how they shouldn’t have let the lads leave while in the background there’s a Lon Chaney style howl, which despite being louder than an old lady’s telly, isn’t heard by that bloke from Kes who obviously needs a hearing aid. Cut back to the young Americans chatting about girls and what not, who being young and out in the world for the first time, venture off the path and onto the moors. The opposite of they were told to do by the more local than local locals in the Slaughtered Lamb.

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Scream: LIVER ALONE, she’s pregnant

October 1996. Scream isn’t here yet, but it’s on it’s way. And as a slash hungry 12 year old, I have never been more hungry for anything. No video shop for this one. I forwent the sweet and sour chicken balls and the comfort of my own home, such was the level of importance. Written by the executive producer of Dawson’s Creek, and directed by the man responsible for everyone’s favourite melted kiddie fiddler Freddie Kruger, Just 17 favourite Skeet Ulrich, California Man’s Rose McGowan, and Matthew Lillard off Serial Mom were going to be in a high school horror film with blood, guts, gore, and a killer in a ridiculous mask. You’ll notice I didn’t mention Neve Campbell, well that’s because she’s terrible and Party of Five was a very difficult watch, thank you. I know you all have a soft spot for her since she snogged up Denise Richards in the swimming pool in whatever that film was you all found your dick on, but she’s rubbish. Regardless, hi, you looking for your demographic? Well you found her. Even though she’s 6 years away from being allowed to watch your film…

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Fright Night: You’re not cool at all, Brewster

Sometimes, actually oftentimes, things don’t have to be good to be good. We know this. Hell, a few weeks back you had to read 2000 words on why I like Demolition Man more than most modern cinema. I feel like you’re all with me on this, whether you keep your guilty pleasures on an external hard drive, or write about them for the amusement of internet strangers. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how shonky it is, what colour the fake blood is, the jarring dialogue, the crap soundtrack, or how many times you’ve watched it. Sometimes it’s a time and a place that makes a fucking terrible film your cinematic comfort blanket.

With that in mind, and with Halloween just around the corner – WELCOME TO FRIGHT NIGHT.

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Street Fighter: Too Many Man, and Mike.

In 1994, I had no time for you. My whole life revolved solely around Point Horror novels and our Sega Megadrive. Had they only found some way to combine the two, there’s no guarantee I’d even be talking to you now, more likely living in a cave plastered with the pages of Call Waiting and The Lifeguard whilst engrossed in some 12 bit pixelated teenage murder mystery. To be clear; that is still something I’d be interested in if anyone has the capabilities. Teenage me has A LOT of ideas. Anyway, the Megadrive.

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Anaconda: I don’t want none unless…actually I just don’t want none.

1997 was the year of sequels. Speed 2, Jurassic Park The Lost World, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (don’t worry, I will eventually get to that one for you), Alien Resurrection, Batman and Robin. As we know, all these films were shite. Sure, we got Con Air, we got Face/Off, The Fifth Element, Spawn (shuuuut up), and Starship Troopers. But there were no creepy crawlies worth mentioning whatsoever. Somehow, at the end of my 13th year, I had gotten a touch bored of watching people shoot each other, and I needed something else. I needed monsters. I needed blood and guts and inhuman terror. I also needed Ice Cube (I always need Ice Cube), and when we made our regular Friday night trip to the video shop, both of those things were staring back at me from the top row of the horror section.

Now, we told you this is an action movie blog, about action movies. We’re only two weeks in, and I’m going off on a tangent. But you know what? I’m not ignoring monsters, because when you ignore the monsters, you also ignore the opportunity to revisit 90s CGI and tear it to fucking shreds, and I don’t think you want me to do that, do you? I think you need to know precisely every awful thing about this film that a revisit in 2017 makes painfully obvious, don’t you? Of course you do – it’s JLo and Ice Cube and Jon Voight and a massive rubber snake. And you do now anyway because I watched it and I refuse to suffer alone. Continue reading

Demolition Man: Simon Phoenix, A Love Story

I was never legally old enough to watch pretty much any of the films that I’ll end up talking about at the time I first watched them, but I’m certain I’m not alone in that. Watching from behind newspapers and through banisters after we were supposed to be in bed was the business in the Francois household. “No I’m not looking, Mum. No I haven’t ripped holes in this magazine, Mum.” Exposure to horror, action, and any combination of the two was drunk hungrily down into our emotional lexicon pretty early on, which is probably why my brother and I spent the first 18 years of our lives trying to murder each other with household appliances and wondering why it hurt our own hand and didn’t make a cool noise when we punched each other in the mouth.
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Doing The Resurrection Shuffle……

Hello darling, it’s been a while hasn’t it? You look nice though. New hair and…have you been working out? Thought so. Look, I know what you’re thinking, here he is cap in hand, crawling back to us from his latest failure. A man who thought himself bigger, better, brighter than the humble blog that spawned him. I know how you people think. You can smell the guilt oscillating off me in great stinking waves. So here’s my confession. Continue reading