:: A Field In England (2013)

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Pious, yet cowardly Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) flees a battle during the English Civil War, and makes the aquaintence of three other deserters; oafish yet lovable Friend (Richard Glover), vulgar and earthy Jacob (Peter Ferdinando), and coniving Cutler (Ryan Pope).  On the promise of an alehouse, the four walk away from the battle, eventually reaching a field where Cutler attempts to get the other three to ingest mushrooms.  Cutler, it seems is actually working for alchemist O’Neil (Michael Smiley), who is searching for some unknown treasure and who forces Whitehead and the others to help…

A Field In England is a beautiful mess, directed by Ben Wheatley, and written by Amy Jump.  As an excercise in historical psychedelia it works, but as a coherent narrative it fails, leaving the veiwer scratching the head and wondering what was really going on.  There is a difference between making a story that makes you think, and one that just leaves you confused.  Who is alive, who is dead, did that really happen, what’s going on?  These are all questions that need answering within the narrative, not remaining after you’ve watched the movie.

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The style of the film is beautiful, with a jarring melange of intimate close-ups and epic long shots, a heady mix of strange tableaux and creepy slow motion.  The editing itself gets over the notion of a mushroom induced psychedelic experience, but there should be some kind of narrative coherency running through it.  As it stands, it is gorgeous style over wafer-thin substance.  I’ve seen a lot of movies.  A lot.  And I’m hard pressed to be able to even guess at what the fuck was going on.  So much so, that even if I told you the entire plot, regaled you with the whole story, from beginning to end, I couldn’t include any spoilers, because none of it really makes any damn sense.

:: Movies by Pumpkin Light Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies for Halloween Book Review

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Movies by Pumpkin Light

Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies for Halloween

Author Nathaniel Tolle

Book Review

By Jessica Dwyer

Halloween can mean a lot of things for a lot of different people. For the youngsters it can mean a massive glut of free candy and an excuse to stay up late. For teenagers it can also mean free candy if they decide to just say to heck with it and go trick or treating as well as late night shenanigans. And for adults it can mean a long night of giving out that candy or drunken costume parties.

Or if you are like me and a lot of other folks I know, it’s a night filled with leftover free candy and scary movies and TV. LOTS of scary movies and TV.

Nathaniel Tolle is apparently a lot like my friends and I as he’s written a massive guide for just such a Halloween night. Pumpkin Cinema is an encyclopedia like in its information. It’s sectioned out in chunks by features, specials and one offs as well as documentaries, and the best television episodes.

Tolle gives the reader information such as cast/director/film length/ and rating for the movie section. After a brief synopsis he goes into a review and details about the film itself as well as a bit of history. Tolle doesn’t focus on one specific era, he goes all the way back to Caligari and includes some surprising choices like Andy Warhol’s Blood for Dracula as well as Dark Night of the Scarecrow. The sections are in alphabetical order so if there’s something you are specifically looking for you can find it easily. It’s interesting to note that while Tolle lists Halloween 1, 2, Season of the Witch, 4 and 5, as well as H20…he doesn’t include Resurrection or Rob Zombie’s remake (although he does make mention of Resurrection but there’s not a lot of love there.)

In the Fun Sized Films/Creepy Compilations section Tolle includes classics like Garfield’s Halloween Adventure alongside new cartoons like Dear Dracula and the Dreamworks Halloween Double Pack (Shrek and Monsters vs Aliens Halloween specials.) Of course “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” is there as well.

:: Alien Outpost (2014)

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The year is 2033, a decade since the alien invasion was repelled, leaving only scattered alien forces on earth.  However, these megre forces still pose a threat, and so Outposts are constructed across the world to counter them.  This is the tale of the last few days of one of those outposts, #37.  A pair of documentary film-makers accompany three new recurits to an outpost in the Pakistan Demilitarized Zone, where resistance from the locals makes the job of fighting the last remaining aliens, or “Heavies” as they are known, all the more difficult.  The film-makers interview soldiers and film candid moments, until things begin to take a turn for the worse…

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Alien Outpost is written by Blake Clifton and Jabbar Raisani, who also directed.  It is unusual in that it is a mockumentary science fiction story, rather than horror.  It shares cinematic DNA with superior films such as 84 Charlie MoPic (1989), and TV shows such as Generation Kill (2008), but doesn’t really shine anywhere near as brightly.  It is a fairly gung-ho actioner, nonetheless, with some nice sci-fi elements, although it feels as if someone saw Battle: Los Angeles (2011) and thought “Hey I could do that”.  It is nowhere near as successful as that film, yet it is enjoyable enough.  If you can make it through the first 10 minutes, you’ll find that it is surprisingly full of practical pyrotechnics rather than poor CGI, and the CGI that is utilised is done extremely well.  For instance, the aliens are convincing enough to maintain a suspension of disbelief, which is vital for such a film.

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As alien invasion movies go, it’s not really a front runner, but it’s not terrible. 

:: The Taking Of Deborah Logan (2014)

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Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and she is the subject of a documentary being filmed by Mia (Michelle Ang) and her two colleagues. Deborah’s daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay) has moved back into the old family home to take care of her mother.  The disease appears to be progressing aggressively, leading Deborah to experience violent mood swings and hallucinations.  She has taken to digging holes in the yard, sleepwalking at night, and constantly paints pictures of a dark figure coming ever closer to her window.  After some strange events, Mia and her team begin to wonder if there may be something more supernatural about Deborah’s condition…

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The Taking of Deborah Logan was written by Gavin Heffernan, and the director Adam Robitel, and at first protrays the harrowing stages of Alzheimers with chilling clarity.  As the film begins to move into more esoteric territory, we get several of the standard tropes of the found-footage film: surveillance camera, time-codes, night-vision etc.  But here they don’t seem hackneyed.  The script works well, presenting a real mystery around Deborah’s past and we investigate as the film-crew do.  It’s difficult to say why this film is a little different from the recent slew of run-of-the-mill found-footage possession movies…  Except that there is a difference.

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The characters of the principles, in particular Deborah and her daughter, are well written while the film-crew are really just there as a means to get the camera around.  Yet even here, they are given some elements: Mia isn’t above lying to get what she wants, Gavin (Brett Gentile) is a superstitious Catholic, while Luis (Jeremy deCarlos) we never really learn anything about.  The preformances of Jill Larson and Anne Ramsay are exemplary. 

:: Shivers (1975)

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Welcome to Starliner Towers, ultra-modern living on a private island, just 12 minutes away from Montreal.  From the promotional film, it would seem the ideal place to live.  So why is an old man strangling a young woman in a school-uniform to death, then performing some kind of autopsy on her body before cutting his own throat with a scalpel?

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The reason, as Dr Roger St.Luc (Paul Hampton) discovers is that the old man, Dr Emile Hobbes (Fred Doederlein), a former teacher of his, has biologically engineered a parastite that was supposed, according to Hobbbes’ collegue Rollo Linsky (the brilliant Joe Silver), to act as a replacement organ in patients to revolutionise the field of transplants.  Hobbes, it turns out had some radical ideas about sexuality, and instead had designed the parasite to act as an aphrodisiac, rendering the recipient sexually aggressive and insatiatble.  The problem would have been solved with Hobbes’ murder suicide, but for the fact that his young victim, 19 year old nymphomaniac Annabel Brown (Cathy Graham) had also been sexually involved with several other men in Starliner Towers, including claims assessor Nick Tudor (Alan Migicovsky).  It soon becomes clear to St Luc and his lover Nurse Forsythe (Lynne Lowry) that Hobbes’ parasites are rampant within the towers, and it will be ground zero in a sexual apocalypse…

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Shivers was written and directed by David Cronenberg, the first commercial feature film from that prolific auteur director.  Shivers has dated, but essentially only in the decpiction of high-end living and clothing fashions.  Its strange, warped tale of repression and sexual taboo is as fresh and shocking as ever.

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As a reinvention of the “zombie” genre only 7 years after George A Romero had re-written the rules of the zombie and created an iconic mythos that still exists to this day, Shivers works exceptionally well. 

:: Ejecta (2014)

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Bill Cassidy, aka Spider Navi (Julian Richings) is a reclusive internet blooger who has spent years being tormented by “alien intelligences”, frequently suffering lost time and periods where he was not in control of his own actions.  He contacts another avid internet astronomer, Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold) and asks him to come out to his remote home to watch the coronal mass ejection that he fears may end the world.  Intercut with their story, Cassidy is brutally interogated by Dr Tobin (Lisa Houle), the head of a military team send to investigate what happened on that night, only 12 hours before…

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Ejecta was written by Tony Burgess, and directed by Chad Archibald and Matt Weile.  It is a hot mess of a movie.  The film is cut together on two time-lines: one is a found-footage depiction of Sullivan’s encounter with Campbell, the other is a linear narrative, regular style story which covers the interrogation of Campbell.  The script is almost painfully bad, except for most of Julian Richings’ character, who is the only one given any real level of depth.  Everything that comes out of other character’s is hackneyed and poor: Adam Seybold spends almost the entire film calling “Bill?  Bill!” and running around in the darkness, while Lisa Houle mangles her lines with a stock “bad guy” grimace.  Everyone else is bad window dressing.

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The story itself makes little sense, almost as if were a couple of dreams cobbled together with a loose, time-filling found-footage wrap-around.  Couple that with a denoument that tries to stage a low-budget live-action rip-off of the cool opening scenes of the excellent anime Elfen Lied (2004), and you have nothing of any lasting value.  All the mention of the coronal mass ejection pretty much falls by the wayside, as does any attempt to carve a meaningful story. 

:: Zombeavers (2014)

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A trio of hot young sorority girls head out for a weekend in a cabin by a lake, unaware that a cannister of medical waste has accidentally become lodged and sprung a leak in a beaver dam.  The girls, hot young nerd-glasses wearing Mary (Rachel Melvin), hot, young blonde Jenn (Lexi Atkins), and hot, young, slightly bitchy Zoe (Courtney Palm) are all semi-clad, and hot.  Joined by their univited boyfriends, they get down to some serious hot, young action.  However, Jenn and her boyfriend Sam, (Hutch Dano) are having relationship issues.  When Jenn is confronted by a strangely aggressive, white-eyed beaver in the bathroom, they all soon realise that all is not well.  Soon they will find themselves besieged by beavers…

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Zombeavers is written by Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, and Jon Kaplan.  It is directed by Jordan Rubin. While it is never going to be anyone’s favourite movie, there is a lot going for this, not least the sheer absurdity of the premise.  It takes a lot of guts to think of a pun and then run with it until a movie plops out.  And I’m glad they did.

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For a comedy horror, it doesn’t really fall into the trap of vascillating between two genres: it lands squarely and directly in the comedy camp, but instead of jokes uses absurdity and gore to achieve the laughs.  Most of the scripted jokes don’t exactly work well, the cast obviously being asked to improvise a proprortion of lines, and although some of these hit, most don’t.  The real laughs belong to the animatronic and puppeteered beavers.  Not since Night of The Lepus has there been so much fun with fur.  Everytime a zombeaver pops up and growls, it’s funny.

:: Mad Max Fury Road International Trailer is INSANE.

The more I see from the new Mad Max vehicle (pun intended) the more excited I get.  Every shot looks beautiful and hellish and amazing.  And it continues even more so with the International Trailer which gives us more shots of the villains of the flick.

Check this out kids, it’s going to be a doozy.  Fury Road tears into screens on May 15th

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