Slither (2006)

Slither (2006)

The Umbrella release of Slither with amazing slipcase by Simon Sherry

Film: James Gunn is certainly one in a million. Most people know him from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad, but his career before that was SO much more fun, and honestly, creative.

There’s an amazing two pack of films that I suggest to anyone who doesn’t know his work, and that’s his superhero film Super, starring Rainn Wilson, and this film, Slither.

Slither tells of the small town of Wheelsy, and after an argument with his wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks), Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) finds himself in the woods, potentially about to commit adultery after being reunited with a school friend, Brenda (Brenda James), but unfortunately, Grant ends up having a dart shot into his abdomen by something that appears to be not-of-this-earth.

Michael Rooker and Elizabeth Banks as Grant and Starla, respectively

Grant collapses and we see, via X-ray, the dart burrow it’s way up into his head.

The next day, Grant is a changed man: he is quieter, and is desperate to collect as much meat as he possibly can, and Starla has noticed the change. Grant revisits Brenda, and with two newly grown tentacles, impregnates her with, what we find out later, to be thousands of leech-like brain slugs.

Whilst all this is happening, Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion), a childhood sweetheart of Starla’s, is investigating Brenda’s disappearance, and obviously, all this quickly collides as the slugs invade the town, and burrow into the mouths of everyone they comes across… will he and Starla survive?

This film is extraordinary in that the fun is a gory, gross out horror movie, that still has elements of laugh-out-loud comedy. The story is solid, and doesn’t overexplain where the ‘thing’ came from initially, except for in some interesting hive-mind flashbacks.

A brain slug tries to take over Emily (Matreya Fedor)

You can really see Gunn’s early career at Troma influencing this film, except for the budget. The humour is sophomoric (thankfully) and the gore is sudden, disgusting and surprising. There is a body bisection that still, after many if watches of this film, delights me to no end.

The cast is also fantastic. Fillion is charming and likeable and Banks is just adorable as well. Special mentions have to go to the appearances of Lloyd Kaufman as the town drunk, Jenna Fischer, a TV crush of mine from the Office, as the police receptionist (who also starred with Gunn in the film LolliLove) and Gunn himself as the most awkward of school teachers.

Gunn’s slick writing and directorial style is present here as well. The script is full of old school jokes, some of which may not sit well with a 2022 audience, but fit for the location and time period, and the direction has some really interesting angles which really makes the film fun to watch. The effects don’t sit as well as they did, but that’s to be expected and if you are able to overlook some of those bits of CGI due to age… this movie is almost 20 years old remember, so even though the practical effects are great, some of the CGI isn’t so perfect, but it’s all still very effective.

This film is a beautiful throwback to films like Henenlotter’s Brain Damage or Stephen Herek’s Critters and could be watched alongside them and not seem at all out of place, even though this film was made 20 years later.

I think I really like this film because of its 80s/ drive-in influences, and was more than happy to revisit it! This Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment is from their ‘Beyond Genres’ imprint and has a pretty awesome slipcase by Simon Sherry.

Score: ****

The menu for the Bluray release of Slither

Extras: A bunch of fun extras on this disc that were on the original DVD back in the day.

Audio commentary with James Gunn and Nathan Fillion is interesting and charming and full of lots of reminiscing about the films of the 80s and the making of this film.

The Slick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither: Making of Featurette is a quick ten minute look at the origins and making of the film.

Who is Bill Pardy? starts as an amusing set of outtakes of Fillion, saying ‘I’m Bill Pardy whenever he screws up, but then turns into an amusing roast of Fillion by the cast and crew.

Slither Visual Effects Progressions looks at the different plates the CGI went through from the initial filming to the resulting effect.

Bringing Slither’s Creatures to Life:FX Featurette goes through all of the practical effects used in the movie, ad is quite fascinating!

Slithery Set Tour with Nathan Fillion is a brief bit with the ever charming Fillion filming some behind the scenes stuff with his particular brand of comedy.

The Gorehound Grill: Brewin’ the Blood is basically a recipe for the blood used in the film.

The King Of Cult: Lloyd Kaufman’s Video Diary is a little bit of home video made by Lloyd Kaufman, the King of Troma, and the man who directed Gunn’s script Tromeo and Juliet, who was invited by Gunn to have a cameo in the film.

Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes as usual are an interesting watch but ultimately not necessary.

Gag Reel is one back from the old days when gag reels were actually funny and not staged like the modern day Marvel ones.

Score: *****

WISIA: I will easily watch this film at anytime!

Nathan Fillion takes aim!

This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release.

Free Guy (2021)

Free Guy (2021)

The Australian 4K release of Free Guy

Film: Ryan Reynolds is just a loveable hunk, right?

Whether or not he’s a good actor or not doesn’t matter, because basically he has mostly just played that loveable goofball, who has the heart of a hero. Whether it’s the guy from Deadpool, or the guy from Green Lantern, or the guy from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Shop, or in this film where he plays Guy, Reynolds has made a profession of being the world’s big brother, funny uncle and cool cousin all at once.

Now imagine if you could take Reynolds and stick him in a video game that is a mixture of Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims, and mix it with movies like The Truman Show and Ready Player One, but make it palatable for anyone (mainly due to Reynolds charm, but also due to co-stars Taika Waititi’s comedy stylings, Jody Comer’s heroic violence, and maybe just a touch of teen heart-throb Joe Keery’s disarming inherent magnetism), and Free Guy is exactly what you’ve got.

Free Guy tells of Guy (Reynolds), a middle aged bank teller living in Free City, who longs to feel love. He’s generally happy with his life, tolerating the constant violence from the ‘sunglasses people’, who are ‘heroes’ who’s work he admires, even when they are robbing his bank or murdering his friends.

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his bestie Buddy (Lil Rel Howery)

The beautiful thing about Free City is no matter what happens, everyone comes back… because Guy is an NPC in a video game, and in video games, everyone gets a respawn, even the ‘sunglasses people’, who in reality, are players in our world.

The problem is, Guy doesn’t know he’s a video game character, and one day he sees the girl of his dreams, but molotovgirl (Comer) isn’t a computer game character, she’s one of us, but not just one of us, she’s a game programmer named Millie, who along with her programming partner, Keys (Keery) have had the code for a game they produced stolen by evil game designer Antwon (Waititi).

Millie has been regularly raiding the game to try and find evidence of this, but doing it solo. Guy manages to get his hands on a pair of sunglasses and finds that they reveal all the ‘gamification’ of the city, like power ups and missions, and very quickly he starts to level up to try and impress molotovgirl.

At first, Guy becomes an internet sensation with his heroic actions, but very soon Antwon decides it time to shut him down, because the ‘player’ shouldn’t be more important than the game, and with a sequel to his game on the rise, maybe it’s time to shut the old one down anyway…

It’s a massively fun movie, with both big laughs and a fair bit of warmth to it as well. It’s sardonic sideways look at the video game industry is a little scathing too, especially that of Antwon, who is clearly riffing on the douchebaggy Twitch streamer-types who seem to have the most popularity.

Having said that, the idea of a games developer being able to find their code by playing a game seems to be something that’s not real (I’m no games programmer so I can’t be sure) so there is a sense of disbelief required to enjoy this film.

The cast are perfect in their roles and play off each other wonderfully. There’s some surprises in here too, with several actual streamers turning up, like Pokimane and DanTDM, amongst others, and there is one special Marvel cameo towards the end that initially stuck out the the proverbial for me, but I grew to love.

The effects in this movie are excellent too. Free City feels like an established game with a huge population, with some people being really good at it, and the occasional filthy casual (which is essentially me online) just sucking. The effects of the world when one is wearing the glasses is probably over gamified, but it clearly is holding your hand so you can tell the difference between the NPCs and the players impression of the world. At times it feels like it might be a scathing look at the online committee of

All in all, Free Guy definitely deserves a watch if you like video games and want a laugh, or if you love the Reynolds or Waititi doing their things.

Score: ****1/2

The menu screen to the Australian 4K release

Extras: There aren’t any extras on the 4K disc, but thankfully the regular Bluray is included so the extras off that are present!

Deleted/ Extended Scenes as usual, the film doesn’t suffer for these scenes not being in the film, but I did like seeing director Levy as ‘Hot Nuts’ in a scene where his character is randomly killed by a player.

Gag Reel – somewhere along the lines, gag reels either got less funny or I lost part of ,y sense of humour, either way, there’s a couple of bits that will raise a smile, but no big guffaws, I’m afraid.

Dude vs Guy looks behind the scenes at the effects and choreography of the fantastic final battle between our hero, Guy versing the arch-nemesis that he didn’t even know he had, Dude, a muscular, half-programmed video game character who looks like the sexy, body-builder version of himself. Fascinating.

Creating Molotov Girl looks at the performance and creation of the two characters Jodie Comer creates, Molotov Girl in the game, and Millie, the real world character. Not just Comer’s performance, actually, but also character and costume and how they all create the persona in a film. There might be a little bit of a look at the psyche of gamers and how they become the perfect version of themselves, or a completely different version of themselves in video games.

It’s Taika’s World looks at the creation of Taika Waititi’s character, game designer, and evil villain, Antwan. For me this was the most fun I’ve ever had watching him act, as his performance of that douchebaggy successful nerd type is absolutely hilarious, and seeing where it came from here is amazing.

Welcome to Free City is an overview of what the film is about, the themes and the general production. It’s a typical hype thing but still quite engaging.

There’s also three trailers.

Score: *****

WISIA: This film has become one of my favourite, as a sci-fi, a comedy and as a video game inspired film, but I’m not sure how rewatchable it may be. I’ve watched it twice and feel like I don’t need to do it again. Time will tell, I guess.

The world of Free City through the lens of the players sunglasses.

This review was performed with the Australian 4K release of the film.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

The cover of the Australian Steelbook edition

Film: I have to say, the idea of a series of Star Wars movies that take place outside of the regular ‘Skywalker’ saga.. you know, Anakin, Luke and Ben (Solo) excited me to no end.

As a young Star Wars fan, two of my favourite Stars Wars novels were Han Solo at Star’s End and Han Solo’s Revenge (I never managed to get my hands on Han Solo and the Lost Legacy) and even though I was 100% Team Luke, the suave cool that characters like James Bond had, and that Han Solo liberally borrowed, made me occasionally lean into his lane. The idea that Solo had a life outside of the Skywalker saga thrilled me to know end!

Flash forward almost 40 years later, and the new owners of Star Wars offer me a delicious treat in the form of an actual solo Solo movie!

I was as happy as a gundark in poodoo.

Not only was it a Solo movie, but it co-starred a whole bunch of my favourite actors: Woody Harrelson from White Men Can’t Jump, Thandie Newton from Rock n Rolla, Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones, Paul Bettany from The DaVinci Code – seriously I was in hog heaven, so much so I was willing to give Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover and Joonas Suotamo a go as, respectively, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca.

Solo: A Star Wars Story tells basically a combination of Oliver Twist mixed with a 70s heist movie, and starts with a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) working for the Fagan-like Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), all the while scheming and dreaming about getting off-planet to the stars.

Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra

They make a good attempt until they are separated, and Han ends up joining the Imperial Navy as a foot soldier, where he and his new pal Chewbacca (Joonas Suatamo) meets professional thief Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew, and convince them to take them away, and so they join the crew on a train heist stealing a particular unstable gas for a man named Dryden Voss (Paul Bethany).

The heist falls apart and the gas is stolen by Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman) and her gang, and so the survivors, who are basically just Han, Chewie and Beckett, have to strike a new deal with Voss, also finding out that co-incidentally, his main squeeze is Qi’ra… what a coincidence…

She accompany them on a quest that takes them across the universe, as they meet characters like Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge)

Joonas Suatamo as Chewbacca

To start of, the cast do NOT disappoint. Ehrenreich doesn’t nail a Harrison Ford impression, which is great. It’s played with a few of Ford’s quirks, but it’s not a looky-likey situation. I liked to think of it as a James Bond situation: the other actors have never played the role the same. Sure it might be said that Ford is ubiquitously Han Solo, but people still say that ‘Connery will always be their James Bond’, and realistically, everyone is replaceable.

Glover does a great job as Lando too. Billy Dee Williams was as cool as they come, and Glover certainly brings that to his version of the character. I think that Calrissian is certainly one of the more ‘intergalactic’ characters as he certainly appears to have no problem with race, species or model number. The combination of Glover and Ehrenreich is great too, with Calrissian being not just a contemporary, but even also an influencer of Solo’s. Actually between him and Harrelson’s Beckett, I very much get a young Indiana Jones vibe from the whole movie, similar to that of the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…

…which brings me to the main problem I have with the film.

They try to push all of Solo’s history into a few hours: pilots for the Empire, check. Saves Chewbacca, check. Meets Lando Calrissian, check. Wins the Millennium Falcon, check. Kessel Run, check. The Kasdan’s basically empty the cup of Solo’s tales from Star Wars and leave us to new memories that we aren’t going to get, like what eventually happens to him a Qi’ra, and does Lady Proxima eventually catch up with him? Clearly, this was supposed to be the first in a series of Solo films as his whole mini-universe-within-a-universe has layers, and depth, and unresolved issues that possibly would have received some payoff in the sequels. So sad, I would have loved the joke of ‘Solo: Duo’.

I can kind of overlook those issues when I’m watching it though, buddy as the film just barrels you from action scene to action scene, and you are barely given time to think. Howard’s direction of the Kasdan’s’ script is fun and thrilling, and obviously he still hasn’t gotten over his boyhood love of car chases!

One other thing I didn’t like was the way at the 11th hour, it hamfistedly jams Solo’s story into the Skywalker saga with an unnecessary motivation of Enfys Nest, and an appearance of a character that darkens Qi’ra’s. The last few minutes are almost awkward, like an American Idol audition, but worse because you perhaps expect it to be better than that.

I guess though, Star Wars fans occasionally expect clunkiness, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised by it.

Unfortunately, clunky doesn’t just describe L3’s body. Easily one of the most off-putting and awful characters in Star Wars history. I’d rather watch a second Star Wars Christmas special starring only Jar Jar Binks.

There is some fun stuff similar to what was seen in the Mandalorian series in here too. A nod to the the old Star Wars fighting game Masters of Teras-Kasi was a fun and deep cut for the fans.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is like battery operated salt and pepper shakers. Fun, but do you REALLY need them?

Score: ***

The Australian Bluray menu screen

Extras: A whole disc dedicated to extras HAS to be a good thing, right?

Solo: The Director and Cast Roundtable sees the entire lead cast of the film answering question posed by The director of the film, Ron Howard. It’s a fun look at the real people playing these roles and how excited they all were to be a part of the Star Wars universe. I can go in without noting how much I love seeing Emilia Clarke laugh: every single part of her face laughs – it’s magnificent!

Kasdan on Kasdan has a look at Lawrence Kasdan’s experience with the Star Wars film series, and includes his co-writer/ son Jonathon;s experiences too.

Remaking the Millennium Falcon looks at the construction of the Millennium Falcon set, and it’s redesign as a ‘newer’ older model.

Escape from Corellia looks predominantly at the ‘car chase’ scene of Han and Qi’ra escaping the planet Corellia, but discusses the vehicle and city design of the scene also.

The Train Heist gave the Kasdan’s an opportunity to actually see Han do an actual crime, and this featurette explores that.

Team Chewie looks at Joonas Suotamo’s performance as the world’s favourite Wookiee.

Becoming a Droid: L3-37 investigates the creation of Lando’s droid, and features comments from the performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso takes us through the entire set and design of the creatures for Lando’s lair.n

Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run takes a look at how the Kessel Run sequence was filmed.

Deleted Scenes of which there are 8. The spfx in these are unfinished, and there are a couple of cute moments, but for pacing;s sake the film is better off without them.

Score: *****

WISIA: I’d possible watch this again, but with other, better Star Wars films, why would I bother?

This review was done with the Australian Ultra HD/ 2 Disc Bluray steelbook edition

Paul Bettany as Dryden Voss

Boss Level (2021)

Boss Level (2021)

The cover to the Australian Bluray release

Film: The whole ‘a day gets repeated over and over again’ is a trope that horror, sci-fi and comedy love. Personally, I think it’s for the opportunity of cheap laughs, showing the protagonist get injured/ die/ kill people over and over again without repercussions. Thankfully it would seem that most filmmakers KNOW it’s a trope that is quite derivative, and that gives them an opportunity to mix up the story a little, like with slasher film Happy Death Day and it’s sequel.

Boss Level is a surprising beast. Directed by Joe Carnahan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Eddie and Chris Borey, Boss Level should be a low budget piece of trash that pushes a ‘new’ action movie stars with a bunch of nobodies… but this stars Frank Grillo from the Marvel movies, and includes Mel Gibson, Maggie Q and Naomi Watts, and is as entertaining as dumb violent action gets.

Grillo and Watts

Boss Level tells of ex-special forces muscle-bound himbo Roy Pulver (Grillo) who wakes up every single day to find a bunch of assassins trying to kill him. Pam (Meadow Williams) tries to shoot him, the German Twins (Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson) try to blow him up, Kaboom (Aaron Beelner ) also tries to blow him up (but with explosives, whereas the German Twins use bazookas), Smiley (Michael Tourek) tries to spear him, Guan Yin (Selina Lo) tries to cut him up… you get the idea: there’s a lot of people out to get him!

‘I am Guan Yin, and Guan Yin has done this!‘

Roy’s problem is, every single one of them have succeeded in killing him, but the second he dies, he wakes up back at the beginning of the day, with all the knowledge that he had been killed over and over again, and no matter how many times he tries to survive.

He does continue to try though (but only after a few depression episodes where he just allows himself to be murdered), and eventually starts to work out that he is very deliberately stuck in this time loop, but what does it have to do with his ex-wife Jemma (Watts) and her boss, Colonel Clive Ventor (Gibson)…

This film, like all these types of films, as I stated earlier, exist to show the funny side to how ridiculous the concept is, and the torture of the lead character is completely for our own amusement, especially when you think he’s achieved something that gets him away from one baddie, only to fall to some other fatal mishap. Let me tell you as well, these are some bloody and violent mishaps too! Roy even talks in a voiceover about how he’d prefer to be shot rather than stabbed because stabbing hurts more!

The mix of actors in this film is great too. Grillo’ s performance is hilarious, action-packed and even tender at times. Watts (who I have a crush on for years) is still a solid support and Gibson’s magical villain is spectacular. The wonderful array of assassins is fun and funny, and they even cop some of the deaths just as bad as Grillo does. Selina Lo’s Guan Yin is a particular highlight and her beauty combined with violent swordsmanship is a grand juxtaposition, and her exclamation whenever she kills is fantastic too.

Honestly there’s not much to NOT like about this film, but it’s essentially like a Fast and the Furious film: you see it for the spectacle rather than an intelligent story. I will say though that it’s sudden sci-fi U-turn is both expected and surprising.

Score: ***

The menu from the Australian Bluray

Extras: None.

Score: 0

WISIA: It was dumb fun, so it’s definitely getting watched again!

This review was done with the Australian 2021 Bluray release.

Guns, guns, guns.

An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

Film: Basically, Doctor Who is a third parent of mine. I don’t mean my mum was once an intern in the 60s at the BBC, but instead, he took care of me by being my after school babysitter and also taught me a general sense of right and wrong when I watched him on the ABC as a kid.

My first experience with Doctor Who though wasn’t the TV series but instead the books, when my mum bought me a copy of the novelisation of Death to the Daleks in the 70s and I was immediately hooked. When I then found out it was a TV series on ABC I became immediately enamoured with it. Since then it has always been a part of my life, and I have a sad and tragic collection that includes DVDs, comics, magazines, books, toys, t shirts… Basically everything.

Having read so much about it though I do have a pretty good foundation in knowing when and where the show came from, but imagine my excitement when I discovered that a TV drama was being made of the genesis of my favourite TV show, written by a writer whose work I admire, being League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss, directed by award winning director Terry McDonough (Wire in the Blood) and starring several actors I like, including Brian Cox (Manhunter), David Bradley (the Harry Potter films)and Jessica Raine (The Woman in Black).

An Adventure in Space and Time is based in the early 60s and tells of then Head of Drama Sydney Newman (Cox) coming up with an idea for a TV show for children called ‘Doctor Who’. He approaches his former production assistant Verity Lanbert (Raine) to be head producer and make the show along with director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), but can a Jewish girl and an Indian man create a show when it appears they may have been set up for failure by the old guard of the BBC?

You better believe it!

They employ well known actor Bill Hartnell (Bradley) to play the Doctor and we follow the next three years of production, obviously told in a quite abbreviated matter and look at the key elements of the series’ life in those early days if television, and how Doctor Who went from being something that the BBC didn’t have faith in, to a million viewer show.

With the current huge fan base for Doctor Who, this really was the best way to create a historical document about the origin of the show. Sure, there could have been factual documentary made, but essentially, a lot of the people involved have passed and for the rest it would have been little more than a talking head doco that may not have held too many people’s interest except for die hard fans, like your truly.

Having a drama though, written by post millennium who writer Gatiss, and starring a Harry Potter series favourite was definitely to best way to go to get the younger fans involved. The script is fun and the actors are charismatic enough to make what could be a stodgy story about the old Beeb irreverent and entertaining. I must admit to having somewhat of a crush on Jessica Raine now as well.

The story moves along at a cracking pace and a lot is fit into the time, but it never feels rushed. The departures of Hussein and Lambert seem to happen quite suddenly,  though their absence, along with some of the initial costars does lead to Hartnell’s departure as well.

The story is quite well written as well in the sense that it is a show about a TV series, and yet starts as a story about Lambert yet ends as a tale about Hartnell, without taking a breath. The tale ends with a round up of what each character went on to do with their careers.

A special mention must go to the soundtrack by Edmund Butt (Ed Butt… Brilliant: he should have been a WWE wrestler). It is a wonderful combination of cinematic whimsy with a few winks to Doctor Who, and really suits the production magnificently.

Eagle eyed fans should also keep a look out as there may be an old cast member or two turning up here and there.

I really only have two real criticisms of this production. The first has to do with opportunistic, schmaltzy fan service. In a scene where Hartnell ponders his and the show’s future, we are presented with a phantom of the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. The populous piece of claptrap exists to make sure the current fans get a look at their Doctor, but to this old fan, it seems to be a disservice to all the other people who have played the part of the Doctor. Am I being over sensitive? Possibly, but it essentially served no other purpose.

The second criticism involves a catastrophic bit of miscasting. Reece Shearsmith is put forward to play a young Patrick Troughton, Hartnell’s replacement of the role of the Doctor. He simply looks terrible in his extraordinarily bad wig, and I feel like he only exists in the role as a favour to Gatiss, the pair of them being ex League of Gentlemen cast mates. Don’t get me wrong, I like Shearsmith, and the role is only brief, but it is like fingernails down a blackboard as he plays it like a pantomime caricature which doesn’t sit well within the well executed acting by the rest of the cast.

The An Adventure is Space and Time DVD looks and sounds great, presented in 16:9 with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack.

All in all though, and even taking those criticisms into account, this is a thoroughly enjoyable drama about an important part of my life, that is, my adoration a silly science fiction children’s television program, and also is an interesting look at TV production in the 60s, told in an amusing and affectionate manner.

Score: ****

Extras: A great deal of extras for the Who fan here as well:

William Hartnell: the Original looks at William Hartnell’s career with interviews of former cast and crew mates, others Doctors, family members and directors.  It is an affectionate look at his life, and includes some wonderful footage of him in an interview from the 60s.

The Making of an Adventure is a good old fashioned making of, though it is hosted by actor Carole Ann Ford, who played Susan, the original Doctor’s granddaughter. It is a combination of a documentary about the original series, and a making of this production.

Reconstructions is a series of recreations of scenes from the original series. They are really clever and include all the faults, dialogue mistakes and miscues of the originals, and also act as deleted scenes (though there are a few of those as well). They include Scenes from An Unearthly Child, Regenerations, Farewell to Susan and Festive Greeting.

The Title Sequences compares the actual original title sequence from Who with the replica titles from this production.

There are also two deleted scenes: the The Radiophonic Workshop and Verity ‘s Leaving Party.

A special mention must also go to the menus and the accompanying leaflet. The artwork on the cover is a recreation of the first Doctor Who Annual. The leaflet itself contains photos from the production, a drawing if William Hartnell as the Doctor and a few Daleks, and an introduction from writer Mark Gatiss.

Score: ****

WISIA: As a dedicated Who nut I found this extraordinary, though a non Who fan may not be as impressed, I doubt though they could not enjoy the production in itself, as it is well written and a lot of fun. Having said that, it may not have the water to regularly rewatch!

Gigant Volume 1

Gigant Volume 1

Sometimes creators occasionally seems to like to say about a new product they are releasing is that it is ‘above genres’ or ‘can’t be classified’. Usually, you’ll read about that is the now-defunct comics magazine Wizard, or Fangoria, which even once had a section of their magazine called ‘It’s Not A Horror Movie’ due to the amount of time creators would think that they could make their project more legitimate by giving it some kind of weasel word like ‘horror-adjunct’ or ‘it’s a gore-thriller’.

Well those people shouldn’t have been entering their films into a magazine dedicated to horror, and usually, in the Wizard articles, the ‘new take on super heroes’ would result in a super hero comic.

I’ve discovered recently that the REAL unclassifiable stories come from Jason and Korea in the form of manga, and that managkas, or comic creators if you will, really make comics that are unclassifiable. if you are in Sydney, you can visit a big book store called Kinokuniya, who have a MASSIVE Manga section, and realistically, the only genre split is ‘General’ and ‘Adult’.

… and in the ‘Adult’ section was where I found this manga, Gigant.

Gigant is created by the mangaka Hiroya Oku, the creator of manga/ anime series Gantz, a story about a mysterious black sphere who takes people from the point of their deaths and subjects them to a trail where they fight horrible demons and Inuyashiki, story of an old man whose body is accidentally destroyed by aliens, so they provide him a cybernetic battle body.

Yep, Oku is an interesting guy, and if you think those stories sound nuttier than squirrel poo, well, sit down, strap in and grit your teeth because this story is off the freaking charts.

Gigant tells of young wanna-be filmmaker, Rei Yokoyamada who discovers that porn star, Chiho ‘PaPiCo’ Johansson has moved into her neighbourhood whilst removing slanderous poster put up in the streets near their house, and due to his kindness, they developed a friendship.

One day, Chiho find an old man in a helmet, a backpack and a pair of Y-fronts who is injured lying the the street. She goes to assist when he slaps a strange watch-like device on her wrist, and then turns into a ventriloquist dummy.

Very quickly she finds out that the device has the ability to grow to ‘Gigant’-ic sizes and burst out of her clothes, which her porn movie producers quickly incorporate into her films. If this wasn’t enough of an upset to her life, her boyfriend gets increasingly jealous about her relationship with Rei, and they break up after he assaults Rei, no she has to use her powers to save him.

Another weird thing is happening whilst Chiho’s life has been turned upside down. A website called Enjoy the End has become popular: it’s schtick? It has a series of questionnaires that people can vote on, the options being increasingly bizarre options…. but they come true.

Faeces falls from the sky like rain and an earthquake occurs because they were voted on… does it have anything to do with Chiho’s weird device?

Well, it’s only volume one so I guess I won’t find out for a while.

Oku’s art and story are both extraordinarily sexy and violent at the same time. His art is exquisitely beautiful, and obtuse, with some bizarre traces of realism that remind me of Western comic artist John Byrne’s addition of real photos into his work occasionally.

I’m going to say that this is an intriguing comic that has piqued my interest, and I’ll definitely be buying the next issue.

Score: ****

Board Game Review: Cthulhu Gloom

Cthulhu Gloom

Gloom is a card game created by Keith Baker and published in 2004; its an amusing game where the players have a tableau of cards, representing ‘their’ family, and require a desire to kill them, but not without making them suffer first… sound like your cup of poisoned tea? The general gaming populous must have also decided as it was their cup of tea as well, as it has five expansions, and three themed decks, Gloom in Space (a sci-fi version), Gloom of Thrones (a Game of Thrones version) and this one, Cthulhu Gloom, based very loosely on the work of horror/ sci-fi author Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

The way a person wins this game is by having the lowest, negative score possible, which is done by having awful events happen to your family of cards, and then killing them whilst at their lowest. A player cannot ‘kill’ one of their family members if they don’t have a negative score, so the other players must provide good events on their opponents families to stop them from being able to kill them off. The first person to kill their entire family wins.

Seriously, Gloom the movie would potentially be hilarious.

The rules of this game are very simple. In front of each player is a selection of cards representing members of a family, and each player has a hand of 5 cards and on each turn, can perform 2 actions: play cards to their or other’s families, following any or all instructions upon those cards, or discard cards, drawing more cards up to the starting hand of five at the end of each turn.

The cards you’ll mostly be playing are cards that add or subtract points from each character, which is how the game is won: by having the lowest possible score. You can also throw an ‘untimely death’ card onto a character, which is how you can either make points for yourself, or beat another player by stopping a character from ‘earning’ more misfortune, as there is nothing worse than death… right?

The really amazing thing about this game is that the cards are all transparent so when you are playing a card, the negative points act as an overlay, which means every negative or positive that can be seen accumulate to make your score, and you can drop the score of another player by giving fortune cards which have positive points which may cover the players negatives point score.

The most fun can be had with this game by actually reading aloud some of the misfortunes that happen, like ‘minced by Mi-Go’, will occasionally bring a smile to everyone’s faces, especially those who are familiar with Lovecraft’s work.

Atlas Games are obviously aware of some of the unfortunate opinions of when Lovecraft wrote his stories, and so some characters have been give Mad Magazine styled alter-egos so as not to offend.

All in all, Gloom is a fun game for a quick throw around or a games night party-starter, and those who love a Lovecraft theme (like me) this game is an entertaining distraction that can still be macabre fun in an Addam’s Family style for those who aren’t fans of his work.

Score: ***

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

One from the to watch pile…

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Film: There is no doubt that William Sachs has made a mark on oddball, lowbrow filmmaking. He’s given us such cult titles as Galaxina, Hot Chilli, Van Nuys Blvd., and of course this film, 1977’s The Incredible Melting Man.

Sachs apparently isn’t very proud of this film though, as he claims the studio interfered with its production quite heavily (if you watch the commentary on this release, he spits quite a fair bit of venom at the re-editing and over-simplification of the story which honestly, by the sound of his description, would have been a far more interesting film.

That’s not to say, though, that this movie isn’t a gem of cult cinema, even though both it, and its main character, are a bloody mess.

After a disastrous mission to space, astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar), returns and is immediately quarantined and hospitalised as for some reason, his body has started to lose its structural integrity.

Not only his body is melting, his brain is too, and he escapes the facility and starts a rampage across the countryside, become more monster than man, killing everyone in his path, but can he be stopped? Is there some way to stop his threat, or will he eventually melt into nothingness…

This film is interesting insomuch it’s a tragedy dressed up as a gore movie. The tragedy of All-American hero West’s mutation as he loses his identity and becomes violent is a horror staple. The effects are expectedly gruesome and gooey and the film is well-worthy of its status of cult movie… and the addition of Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux” Smith certainly nails down that title.

It’s a silly film but it’s certainly a fun film to watch.

Score: ***

Format: The film is presented so bright and clear considering it’s age. It’s presented in 1.85:1 with a 2.0 mono audio.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: As Arrow usually do there is a cool couple of extras floating around on this disc.

Commentary by William Sachs is fairly detailed look at the film. His recollections are interesting, and occasionally quite scathing against the directors.

Super 8 Digest Version is quite a revelation. As a kid I used to see the ads in Famous Monsters for ‘Super 8 home video’ versions of horror films and I was always interested to see one. Well, here we have the Incredible Melting Man one!

Interview with William Sachs and Rick Baker is enlightening and entertaining, and it’s nice to see that neither of them take the film too seriously. Interestingly in a world where some films are being criticised by ‘proper’ filmmakers for being nothing more than ‘theme park rides’ it’s nice to see that Sachs wholly embraces his film as being exactly that. Unfortunately if you’ve already watched the commentary, some of the stories and anecdotes are repeated.

Interview with Greg Cannom is only very brief, and honestly could have been incorporated into the previous extra, but it gives an insight into Cannom’s involvement.

Promotional Gallery is another name for ‘stills gallery’, but at least this one is for the posters and lobby cards for the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer is exactly what it says on the box. Remember when there was just one original theatrical trailer and not a leak, a sub-teaser, a teaser, trailer 1, trailer 2 and a red-band trailer? Maybe older films had better luck at selling themselves because they were better films? Who knows.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s extraordinarily goofy so it deserves multiple watches!

Re-animator (1986)

One from the regularly re-watched pile…

Re-animator (1986)

Film: It’s the best horror film ever made. Review finished.

Oh, you want more… sigh, ok then.

I first saw this film when it came out on VHS in Australia and was immediately and utterly taken by it. It didn’t just excite my brain cells, I found almost a soul mate within the confines of the little plastic video case. I liked horror before I saw this film, but afterward, I loved it.

I didn’t just love THIS film though, it turned me on to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and more horror writers, both modern and old. It turned me from being a horror casual to a horror obsessive.

This film was directed by Stuart Gordon, who wrote the screenplay with Dennis Paolo (From Beyond, Dagon) and William Norris (mostly known as being an actor). The story was based on Lovecraft’s stories from the 1920s, but modernised and made into a gory, gooey horror movie with a wry sense of dark humour.

Re-animator tells of a medical student named Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) who has moved to Miskatonic University to learn more, and further his research after the death of his mentor Dr Gruber. At Miskatonic, he moves in with student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) to whom West eventually reveals he has developed a reagent that’s can reanimate dead tissue, and bring the deceased back to life, though the life is a monstrous, violent, animalistic one,

Their experiments put them at odds with the Dean of the school, Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson), and his daughter Megan (Barbara Crampton), who also happens to be Cain’s girlfriend, and the object of obsession of Dr Carl Hill (David Gale), who also is the subject of West’s ridicule due to his ideas about human brain death.

Very quickly, the body count rises, and the lives of all concerned begin to fall horribly apart…

There is so much that is perfect about this film. Gordon’s direction of the script is perfect, and every performance is nailed and every scene is exciting and moves the story along at quite a fast rate.

The cast is excellent. Combs’ West is the maddest of mad doctors, Abbott is the most flaccid of accomplices, Crampton is the most loveliest of female lead (and I must admit to having a massive crush in her even all these years later) and David Gale… well, David Gale is the best Vincent Price like villain that was ever not played by Vincent Price.

This edition reviewed is the Umbrella Entertainment version, under their ‘Beyond Genres’ label, which contains two version of the film on it. The first disc has the original 86 minute ‘uncut’ version, chock full of chunky violence and blood and gore. The other disc contains what is called the ‘Integral’ cut, which has all the gore, but also some extended scenes from various cuts of the film that exist, which adds almost 20 minutes to the films length: not all of which is necessary, but most of which creates more layers to the film, especially the ‘anti-love’ triangle that develops between the three main leads… it’s not a triangle, but instead one of obsession and ownership.

Umbrella’s edition of this film also has an epic Simon Sherry cover that looks incredible too, and even better as the animated menus on disc 2!

Like I said, this is my favourite horror film of all time, and whenever anyone asks me what horror film is my favourite, without fail I say this one, as I believe it’s a must watch.

Score: ****** (yep, six stars: not an error)

Format: Reanimator was reviewed on the region B Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment, and it’s is easily the best this film has ever looked. It is presented in a 1.77 image, with a 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of extras on this 2 disc extravaganza!

Disc 1

There are two audio commentaries, one by director Stuart Gordon, and the other by producer Brian Yuzna, and stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott and Robert Sampson. Both commentaries are interesting and engaging.

Re-animator Resurrectus is a retrospective documentary about the film, and is a pretty complete investigation of the film.

There is also a series of extended scenes, which are unnecessary but still work when put back into the ‘Integral” cut of the film, and a deleted scene, which I am not quite where it would have fit in the film, but was an interesting watch anyway.

Disc 2

On this disc there us a series if interviews with Gordon, Yuzna, Paoli, Music composer Richard Band and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone. These are interesting, but the stories start to repeat themselves over the course of the extras.

This disc also has a bunch of trailers and TV spots.

Score: *****

WISIA: Simply, I think it’s the best horror film ever made and I watch it regularly. Honestly I could probably perform the whole movie as a one man show.

Krull (1983)

One from the to watch pile, even though it’s technically a rewatch, though I haven’t seen the film since it’s first release on VHS in the 80s…

Krull (1983)

Film: I am terribly sorry to those of you who love the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit films, but they aren’t for me. I don’t like ‘em. Sure they are technological achievements in cinema and Jackson fulfilled a lifelong dream, but they are just so looooooooooooooong, and boring.

Yep. Boring.

What I want from a fantasy film is expediency in storytelling, a story that tells a Dungeons and Dragon styled ‘bunch of rogues versus impossible evil’ tale, a pile of violence, and maybe, just maybe, boobs.

Krull was directed by Peter Yates, who directed things like The Deep, An Innocent Man and Eyewitness, from a script by Stanford Sherman, who wrote a whole bunch of episodes of the Batman TV show from the 60s, and honestly, that possibly shows with this movie.

Krull tells of the occupants of the planet called… Krull! Krull has a scourge on its surface though in the form of the Beast (voiced by Trevor Martin), and his constantly teleporting vehicle/ castle/ meteor The Black Fortress.

On the evening of the wedding of opposing kingdoms Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and his bride, Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), The Beast attacks and everyone is killed, except for Colwyn, and Lyssa is kidnapped. With everyone from both sides of the family killed, Colwyn in now the king of a united kingdom, but has no army.

So, he travels across the land, collecting a band of miscreants, including a cyclops who is cursed to see his own death (Bernard Bresslaw), a wizard (David Battley), an elderly seer (Freddie Jones) and a gang of escaped convicts (including Robbie Coltrane, Liam Neeson and Alun Armstrong with several others) overcoming many obstacles and adventures until they finally find themselves at the gates of The Black Fortress, ready to save the princess trapped inside.

So, yes, what you see here is the classic fantasy story with all the tropes, like kidnapped princess, evil bad guy, ragtag gang of heroes, charming male lead, that has been used in everything from Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, to Star Wars and even video games, and Krull doesn’t try to rise above and challenge those lofty themes.

The world of Krull, like Star Wars, is a wholly fantasy one that exists outside of any Earthly timeline… perhaps it too, is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… though it appears to be set in a D&D styled environment, with a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.

As I mentioned, the script is as one would expect. It’s camp and attempts a Shakespearean styled dialogue even though what they are saying is melodramatic claptrap… which I guess is perfectly Shakespearean! Thankfully the performances are solid, and the direction and cinematography is amazing. The exterior shots are impressive long shots which show amazing scenery, and the smaller scenes and interiors, all filmed in a soundstage a Pinewood Studios incredibly, look fine.

The special effects are occasionally clunky, but it’s to be expected. In actual fact some of them are quite effective, like the stop-motion crystal spider and even the cyclops’s prosthetic eye, though Bresslaw’s lack of vision is occasionally apparent when he has trouble manipulating objects.

There is also a couple of effects which are surprisingly gruesome for a G rated film, especially in regards to the Beast’s appearance, and the fact that his H. R. Giger-ish soldier’s head split open and release a bloody worm that burrows into the ground.

Krull is a fun rollicking adventure that you can watch with the kids. Sure it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s charm outweighs how derivative it might appear.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This bluray release of Krull from Umbrella Australia is presented in a 2.35:1 image with a Dolby DTS 5.1 audio, both of which are really nice for a film that’s 30 years old.

Score: *****

Extras: There’s a nice mix of extras on this disc.

We have two commentaries (found under the ‘Audio’ selection rather than in the extras). One is a cast and crew commentary performed by director Peter Yates and performers Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony and another labelled a ‘Behind the Scenes’ Commentary, which features a reading taken from Cinefantastique, a now deceased sci-fi magazine.

In the regular Extras section, there is a trailer for the film, Journey to Krull, a half hour TV special on the making of the film and finally, a look at the Marvel Comics Movie Special of Krull, which came out in 1982 (Marvel Comics, in the 80s, and after the success of the comics of both Star Wars and to a lesser extent, 2001:A Space Odyssey, was doing heaps of comic adaptations of films, some of which became regular series’s, like the aforementioned Star Wars and The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones). This feature shows panels of the comic with dialogue from the film played over the top.

The cover is also reversible: one side has new art from Simon Sherry and the other has the original poster art from the 80s.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Now that it’s back under my nose, I’m sure I’ll have no problem putting it in again when I feel like a nice easy watch.