Tag Archives: So bad it hurts

The Dark is Rising (2007)

My hatred of this film begins with this poster, but does not end there.
My hatred of this film begins with this poster, but does not end there. Apart from the US title change, fully half of the people in this image aren’t main cast but are put on the poster to up the sexy, and one was removed entirely from the final cut (I can only assume this is an early poster.) Alexander Ludwig’s ‘I’m running’ pose is also terrible, and a shameful attempt to make the film look more dynamic.

“Seek the Signs”

Directed by David L Cunningham
Starring Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Ian McShane and Frances Conroy

Will Stanton (Ludwig), the second youngest of a large family of bickering American emigres, discovers on his fourteenth birthday that he is the last of the Old Ones, a secret race of warriors in the service of the Light. With the Rider (Eccleston), embodiment of the Dark, growing in power, Will has just five days to find the six Signs of the Light which will restore its power and prevent the destruction of the world.

Continue reading The Dark is Rising (2007)

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The Summer of Lovecraft: Necronomicon (1993)

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Directed by Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Payne, Maria Ford and David Warner

The Story

The Necronomicon itself is one of Lovecraft’s most famous creations, a tome that serves sometimes as a grimoire, sometimes as a secret history of the universe. Lovecraft wrote a cod history of it. The short stories that appear in this anthology are based on “The Rats in the Walls,” “Cool Air” and “The Whisperer in Darkness.”

The Film

We start with a brief framing segment (‘The Library’) in which Lovecraft (Jeffrey Combs) steals the Necronomicon from a bunch of monks. He opens it up and begins to read the stories; we return to this narrative between segments.

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Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: Necronomicon (1993)

Summer of Lovecraft: City of the Living Dead (1980)

This is the zombies' patented 'squeeze the brain out of the back of your skull' attack.
Buckle up, kids; this is going to be a rough one.

“From the bowels of the Earth they came… to collect the living.”

Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Christopher George, Catriona MacColl and Carlo De Mejo

The Story

There are vestiges here of ‘The Dunwich Horror’, but only in the broadest terms – Dunwich, horror, gateway to Hell.

The Film

Mary (MacColl) apparently dies of fright during a seance, but is rescued from a premature burial by reporter Peter (George) and describes her vision of a priest committing suicide in a town called Dunwich. Her medium, Theresa, explains that this was prophesied in the Book of Enoch, and that the priest’s suicide opened the gates of Hell. If he is not destroyed by All Soul’s Day, the dead will rise and destroy the living.

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Continue reading Summer of Lovecraft: City of the Living Dead (1980)

The Tomb (2008, or possibly 2009)

This one is going to hurt, isn't it?
This one is going to hurt, isn’t it?

“Death comes to all… but one.”

Directed by Michael Staininger
Starring Wes Bentley, Sofya Skya, Michael Madsen and Eric Roberts

The Story

So, I lined this one up for The Summer of Lovecraft, but it turns out this one isn’t based on Lovecraft’s ‘The Tomb’, but on, well…

This title is far more helpful
This title is far more helpful

The nameless narrator’s marriage to the beautiful, intelligent Ligeia ends with her tragic death. Sometime later, he marries the beautiful Lady Rowena, who also dies, then returns to life, but as Ligeia, who once told her husband that will could overcome death.

The Film

Jonathan Merrick (Bentley) is one of those independently wealthy English lit professors, with a beautiful fiancee named Rowena (Kaitlin Doubleday) and a promising career. But then in walks Ligeia (Skya), a sexy Ukrainian grad student researching the existence of the soul.

Continue reading The Tomb (2008, or possibly 2009)

Dragon Dynasty (2006)

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Directed by Matt Codd
Starring Federico Castelluccio, Stana Katic, Peter Kwong, Aaron Hendry, Dion Basco and James Hong

Marco Polo is getting ready to leave China, together with his entourage of Italian explorers. When the emperor (James Hong) gives Marco a bundle of gifts, evil priest guy Shang Sel (Peter Kwong of Big Trouble in Little China fame) smuggles some kind of mystical dragon thingummy into it so that dragons will follow Marco and kill him? He doesn’t like westerners or something.

Continue reading Dragon Dynasty (2006)

100 Million BC (2008)

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“An elite mercenary team. Sent back in time. They will not return … Alone.”

Directed by Griff “Louie Myman” Furst
Starring Michael Gross, Christopher Atkins, Greg Evigan

An elite team of Navy SEALs (not, as the poster says, mercenaries) are sent back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth in order to rescue another team of Navy personnel who were sent back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Together with professor Frank Reno (Gross), they wander around the jungle, getting et one by one, until they find the stranded sailors, among them Reno’s brother Erik (Christopher Atkins) and former love interest Ruth (Marie Westbrook). The survivors return to the modern day, but a hungry T. rex follows them back to Los Angeles, where it rampages through the city until yet another version of Reno turns up, having time-travelled from the 40s, and sends it back where it came from.

Continue reading 100 Million BC (2008)

Jonah Hex (2010)

Brolin vs. Malkovich for the title grumpiest gun in the West!
Legendary character, you say.

“Revenge Gets Ugly”

Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox and Michael Fassbender

When his family are murdered and his face branded by the insane General Turnbull (Malkovich), Confederate deserter Jonah Hex (Brolin) is saved from death by Native Americans and sets out in search of revenge.

Continue reading Jonah Hex (2010)

Nazi Zombie Death Tales (2012)

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“Sex! Zombies! War!”

(aka Battlefield Death Tales, aka Angry Nazi Zombies)

Directed by James Eaves, pat Higgins and Alan Ronald

This film is actually an anthology of three short films. As a result, I’m going to deviate from our usual system in order to take on each film separately. This is especially important because the films are highly variable in terms of their quality.

Continue reading Nazi Zombie Death Tales (2012)

Max Payne (2008)

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Nothing in this film is as awesome as this poster suggests

Directed by John Moore
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Beau Bridges

Three years after his wife and baby were murdered, Detective Max Payne (Wahlberg) is still looking for the truth through the time honoured method of being a dick and treating everyone around him like dirt. with the assistance of Russian mob boss Mona Sax (Kunis), he goes up against those who would enforce their will through force of arms and brings them to justice through force of arms.

Continue reading Max Payne (2008)

The Time Machine (2002)

Time_machine

“Where would you go?”*

Directed by Simon Wells and Gore Verbinski (uncredited)
Starring Guy Pearce and Samantha Mumba

Alexander Hartdegen (Pearce) proposes to his intended, only to see her shot dead by a mugger. Dedicating himself to training as a fighter and detective, he becomes the Batma… No, wait.

He dedicates himself to saving her by building a time machine to alter history, but failing once he decides it must be impossible and instead travels into the future to learn why. Witnessing the rise and fall of humanity, he is then thrown forward into the distant future, where he encounters a humanity divided into two races, the atavistic, subterranean Morlocks, and the entirely human Eloi, and must decide whether to try to change the past, or fight for the future.

Actually, I’m kind of overstating it a bit. It’s more like he has to decide whether to walk away and let a creepy brain-boss Morlock turn his Eloi friend Mara (Mumba) into a sexy-dance monkey or not, which is a no brainer in anyone’s books.

What’s wrong with it?

So, you see above where I emphasise that the Eloi are entirely human? That’s the crux of it. I mean, it starts with the addition of a tragic backstory, which reduces the wonder of time travel to one man’s hissy fit with the universe, but it’s the Eloi and the Morlocks who are at the heart of it.

In the book – and I promise, this is not just a ‘the book is better’ rant – the Eloi and Morlocks are two sides of the class divide taken to extremes; the idle rich who have devolved into heartless, contented children, and the labouring poor who have become naught but bestial muscle. It’s an allegory. In this film, there really isn’t one. The Eloi are a little fatalistic, but ultimately unflawed, whereas the Morlocks are self-made monsters who chose to become cannibal trolls, and look ridiculous to boot with their huge, rubber faces and bullshit, dehumanising caste structure.

The Eloi also get their theme from the Civilization computer games, which is a little bizarre.

The film also manages to trump the nastiness of the Morlocks eating the Eloi, with brain Morlock (Jeremy Irons) explaining that they keep the cute ones as ‘breeding stock’.

Mark Addy, as Hartdegen’s friend Philby, has a terrible American accent.

What’s right with it?

The first part of the journey into the future is nicely done, with the collapse of the moon a nice alternative to the more obvious ‘nuclear holocaust’ option to create a divide in history.

How bad is it really?

Even leaving aside the value of the film as an adaptation of the book (it fails, but then again the book was of its time and its allegory no longer directly applies), it’s not a very good film. After a contrived introduction, it makes a good stab at the time travel bit, but it doesn’t have anything to say with the Eloi and the Morlocks, so it just becomes a nasty, rapey cannibal plot.

Best bit (if such there is)?

A holographic library interface sings a snatch of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Time Machine: The Musical.

What’s up with…?

  • The brain Morlock, built to be the psychic smarts of the race, being as badass as any of the muscle/hunter Morlocks?
  • The Morlock caste system in general?
  • The Eloi’s superstitious fatalism? A species that can build sophisticated windmills and complex, cliff-hugging villages, ought not to be this helpless in the face of the crude Eloi hunting parties.

Ratings

Production values – The Time Machine is a thing of beauty, and the futures wonderfully realised. It’s just a shame then that the Morlocks look so bollocks. 11
Dialogue and performances –  The dialogue is largely uninspired, and the leads give it what it deserves. Stand outs are Orlando Jones as the library computer and Omero Mumba as Mara’s brother, putting the older and more prolific cast to shame. 12
Plot and execution – The films greatest weakness is a failure to do anything with the Morlock/Eloi divide. There is supposedly something about unbridled technology, represented by the mining of the moon, but it doesn’t connect to the split into two races, which makes the core of that section pointless. 16
Randomness – The film doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but that’s a failing in the core premise of the second half, rather than randomness. 5
Waste of potential – Two words: George Pal. It wasn’t perfect, but the 1960s version was so much better, and I’ve never understood the point of remaking something worse that the last version. Plus, it’s a good book, even if the allegory is utterly dated. 17

Overall 61%

* The question is not where… but WHEN?”