Braindead (Dead Alive) (1992)

Im ashamed that I left watching “Braindead” till as late in my life as I have. It’s not really considered a mainstream horror in the same way that the “Nightmare on elm streets”, “Friday the 13ths” and “Halloweens” of the world are…in a sea of slashers where the closest thing to compare it to would be “The Evil Dead 2” Braindead stands out by a country mile as a truely shocking and twisted slice of Dark horror comedy.

It had always been on the outskirts of my film viewing horizons. I’d seen clips from it over the years but for one reason or another i’d just never got round to watching it…I was still trying to get the “Classics” under my belt…missing by a country mile the classic I could have been watching all along with this beauty!

I decided when I finally did down this movie that I had a choice…I could either watch it in pristine bluray quality (Bootleg but definitely enjoyable) or I could watch it for the first time in mangled VHS-vision…I chose the latter and I really dont regret my choices. The general nastiness of this film is enhanced tremendously by the nasty, grainey and semi chewed up fuzz that VHS provides…I actually own the Rental copy of this movie…It came from a video shop in Rhyl (It still has all the stickers from the shop on it and everything!) and watching it back through the murk you really get a feeling for the history that this tapes been through in order to arrive in my collection. I really do treasure it…Until peter jacksons 4K remasters of these movies come out it’s the closest I’ve got to watching this film in it’s intended condition…Though equally if they were to do what they did with the “Nekromantik” Bluray and include a polished up Super clean cut…alongside a trashed “Grindhouse” cut I’d be terrifically grateful…

I’d love to see Jackson return to these kinds of films…controversial, shocking, and brilliantly wicked fun…I know he probably never will but I can dream!

 

(Also this is one of those films that has never quite been able to get it’s promotional marketing quite right…this is the best representation of the film I could find (The rental cover) and it says absolutely bugger all about the film itself…It just looks really cool…)

FLCL and Me – A Prologue.

This ones going to be a little bit more “From the heart” to be completely honest with you. I was intending on making this a video, I wrote it literally in the early hours of this morning with the full intent to record it this afternoon and have it live before the night was out. but having edited it a little bit and re-read it a couple of times I just dont feel it fits in with my usual video stuff. As a result I’ve decided to make it a spur of the moment blog post instead, though I will properly review FLCL at some point in the future but in order to make this work the way I want it to I kind of have to rely on my memories because otherwise it would be pretty meaningless for what im About to get into into.

In 2008 I was at a relative low point in my life, I was in the midst of some of the most difficult examinations I’d have to go through to date as a knock on to that I realised that even if I finished the exams with a good grade I had no plans for what to do once I’d passed, Id also found out that a good chunk of my friends from that time were basically only being my friend because they thought they could get something from me. And I was trapped in a situation where I was forced to be in close contact with someone who I had feelings for who didn’t feel the same way with no real means of escape from that situation for at least another 18 months. In short 2008 was a pretty shitty year. I felt trapped, alone and stressed out in a way that I’ve never been before or since.

As a result I pretty much spent that year desperately trying to escape from the real world because It was all a bit too much and I didn’t want to tip myself over the edge. There are moments in your life where things will perfectly align. I don’t particularly believe in a god or an afterlife but there are some moments that are so well timed as if to suggest that the world surely cant be a random mish mash of happenings. And in 2008 two of those moments happened that saved my life and fundamentally altered the way I look at the world.

(This was the other lifechanging thing, but thats another story for another time…)

One of those moments was in the middle of summer and I was asked to do some research for a business report. And like any good student with access to the internet that meant I spent a good chunk of my time on youtube watching videos. It was while I was there at my computer on that humid summer afternoon that I first discovered FLCL, or Fooly cooly, or Furi kuri depending on your preference. I’d briefly had a fling with anime and manga a couple of years prior to this and I thought I was on the way out from it by this point. But there was something in that 140p resolution video, that animation style, that vibe that just kept me watching. Back then youtube would only let you upload 15 minute chunks and the 6 parts that made up this series were all split up into there various pieces, all with varying quality and all with varying stopping and starting times. But at the time that didn’t matter. I was captivated.

I’d never seen anything like it, the tone, the animation, the music, the philosophy. The whole thing was just totally unique. It wasn’t ashamed to be what it wanted to be and it looked damn fine doing it. I Devoured as much of it as I could get my hands on. I remember that finding a complete version of the 5th episode (Brittle bullet) was particularly difficult due to the fact it dealt predominantly with guns which at the time Youtube  didn’t really tolerate. But eventually I saw the whole thing and it was absolutely beautiful.

(I mean, Just look at it! This was made in 1999!. its astounding!)

I don’t fully understand the philosophy of the show at this point anymore. I last watched it in full nearly 7 years ago, but at the time it was this radical stand out piece of art that spoke to me directly, it told me it was okay to be different. It was fine to do your own thing, that you didn’t need to rely on what other people thought of you or saw in you because someone out there will accept you for who you are regardless of what you do or don’t do in life. That it was okay to be childish sometimes but equally that responsibility for your actions and life choices are absolutely of equal importance.

At the time I was just beginning to get into film making, I’d started about a year and a half prior to this and I was in the midst of making my first feature film. I had no idea what I was doing and it was genuinely a terrible movie. But that’s because at the time I didn’t really know what art house was, I didn’t know what experimental cinema was. I grew up in a small backwater town where we had 2 cinemas and neither of them played anything other than mainstream fodder. So here I am producing an experimental drama channeling my feelings visually into the piece with no idea what an experimental film was. And im showing these rushes and scripts to people who had no idea what experimental cinema was and they just didn’t get it…and at the time I don’t think I fully understood it either…I’d later realise that experimental cinema was really quite a niche genre and that it wasn’t about making sure as many people saw it as possible more that it was making sure the right people saw it. watching it back now I can pick apart the whole thing. Its incredibly literal and im very embarrassed by the whole thing. But I digress.

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(It was about as bad as this…and that’s pretty bad…Still you gotta start somewhere…thats what I tell myself at least…)

FLCL hit me at just the right time because while I was working on this film in my spare time I’d be marathoning the anime pretty much non stop in my down time. And everytime I would come up against someone who would attack me personally for the way I dressed, or spoke or anyone who just didn’t like my films. FLCL would be the thing I would tune into to tell me that it was alright to be me. And that the people out there who thought it was okay to try and bring me down either just wernt accepting of people like me or they were just trying to make themselves feel better.

There was just something about these 6 episodes that really connected with me. I think the varying animation was definitely a factor. It’s a very different experience to watching any other kind of anime. The plotline was bittersweet as well, its to this day one of the only series I’ve ever seen that mixed hardend robot fighting anime with slapstick comedy, Hardened experimentation with the format and also a pent up will they/wont they romance angle. They got the balance right between mixing well written and very human characters with crazy off the wall extremism. The soundtrack, almost entirely composed by the pillows and was revolutionary to my ears, the direction was near pristine, the editing and styalisation was almost unmatched. And for a year or so I was as ingrained into it as it was into the counter culture.

Over the following 18 months I’d collect as much FLCL merch as it was possible to get my hands on, I bought the manga, the novelisations, plushies, T-shirts, I managed to import 2 out of 3 of the original soundtracks from Japan, I had a beanie with Haruko’s P! symbol on it, a wall scroll that’s still on display in my house to this day, my computer was decked out with stickers from the show and both my wallpaper and my screensaver were images from the show and my most prized possession is the limited editon US DVD boxset. Which is not only the most expensive DVD boxset I’ve ever bought, but It’s now also the most expensive DVD boxset in my collection. In 2009 I spent £210 shipping that set from America to England (It cost £80 up front, followed by another £80 to release it from German customs, followed by a further £50 to release it from English customs) now if you’re a nerd for your media history then you’ll know that just over 12 months after I spent this frankly ludicrous amount of money for 3 dvds and a free t-shirt coupon. That an official UK release of the series came out for £20 and I very nearly cried…but y’know what? In 2014 I sank another £25 into rebuying the UK set on Bluray which is still sealed on my shelf to this day.

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(This is my ACTUAL boxset in all its beautifulness…I dont think I’ll ever part with it…but its painful to even touch just for the price alone…it also took nearly 3 months to get to me…)

I have incredibly fond memories of FLCL, it was a series that changed my life in ways that I really struggle to put into words.it came in at just the right time and carried me through a very dark period. But like all dark periods they’re bound to pass eventually and at some point in the late 2010’s or early 2011 I just kind of…drifted from it. I went from at the peak a 3 month period where it would be the only thing I’d watch to in the end pretty much forgetting about it. By 2011 I had bigger fish to fry really, I’d recently started a new stint in education, I’d met a beautiful woman who’d go on to become my current long suffering partner and I was mixing and mingling with a new crowd of people who were genuinely interested in me for who I was, not for who they wanted me to be.

Looking back these days I feel like FLCL is an echo to a completely different time so far removed from my current life that it might as well be alien to me. It is to me this ghost of a 6 parter that came crashing into my world, changed my life and then left without a trace…in many ways echoing one of the shows main protagonists Haruko. And life moved on really…I grew older, built a meaningful relationship and several meaningful friendships, these friends and my partner grew older with me. And I forgot about that awful year that quite literally was nearly the death of me. Things were looking up…

(For anyone interested this is the wallscroll I own as well…it cost £30 and unlike the DVD boxset it cost me nothing in customs charges to ship it in from Japan.)

Then 2016 happened. 2016 for many people would at best be described as a difficult year. What with Brexit, Trump, rising tensions towards the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, rising food prices and half of the people you loved from your childhood dying randomly it was a difficult one to get through in one piece. There were also some personal troubles in my own life. My partner was going through some very messy health issues that I wont get into here but it put a lot of stress on both of us, I’d recently started to have a few tensions build up at work and most of my friends moved away for better job opportunities or were generally out of action…2016 was a pretty shitty year. And then there was an announcement that filled me both with dread and total excitement. FLCL was coming back. At the time there wasn’t a whole lot of information available all I knew was that it would be coming soon and there’d be 12 new episodes set in the modern day split over 2 seasons. It was like an old friend had just called me up after years.. and the reason it filled me with dread and excitement? Well. Because in my mind the show was perfect just the way it was. Why run the risk of pissing on a near pefect legacy by bringing it back for 12 more episodes? Equally I was very concerned that it personally might reopen old wounds  I’d not seen the show for years at this point and the only thing that would make it worse than it not being very good was revisiting the show I loved to find that it was garbage or that id built it up in my semi adolescent mind into something that it simply wasn’t. Obviously I was excited at the idea of it. If you’d have told my teenage self that FLCL would be coming back for a full 2 seasons I think he’d have cried. But there was just something sat in my mind that didn’t feel right about this. That was concerned about it.

(I got a bad feeling about this…)

Over the incoming 2 years that would follow a trailer or 2 would see the light of day that only further worry me. Mainly because it seems like they’ve jettisoned the strange and wonderful animation style that drew me to the series initially. It also seemed really quite overly angsty. Which I seem to remember the original series having a level of Angst about it but nothing quite like what this trailer was giving off…it also seemed like they’d gone all in on the comedy elements with strange and goofy characters littered throughout…bearing in mind that in the original series there was maybe 3 or 3 goofy characters and even they were tinged with a certain level of darkness.

Then last week, they announced the official launch of the series as the 2nd of June 2018 at midnight. And as of this recording I haven’t watched it. I don’t know much about the new series. I know it has the pillows in it and I know they got the original writers back in. But I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with the way this series has been resurrected…it feels like a nostalgia grab rather than a meaningful continuation… I think I might eventually watch it but I just don’t want it to ruin a show I loved. For my own sakes. At some point I will rewatch the original series again…and I’ll share my findings on here as and when that happens. It may be awful, it may be better than I remembered it. But with the new series im not so sure… for now I feel comfortable with those vivid memories of hot summer evenings plonked infront of a laptop discovering a show that no one In my country I knew had heard of.

(The mangas pretty bloody awesome too…I should really re-read it sometime…)

As is the custom occasionally I like to end these blogs with some music and I cant really think of anything more fitting than the end credits to the show, but in a resolution that I’d have killed for about 10 years ago. Enjoy.

(Part 2 of “A new career in a new town will be coming soon…but this literally kind of forced its way out of me in the last 24 hours so I thought it best to share…)

House (1985)

Season 4! And at the time of writing we’re on the day before my first anniversairy with youtube! These decriptions may end up thinning out a little bit from here on in, mainly due to the fact that when I started writing these overviews of the episodes there was a 10-11 month gap and I’d had plenty of time to re-evaluate my thoughts and feelings about each episode as they went by whereas I watched and recorded my review of house in late January/early February.

As a result its still fairly fresh in my mind, and this is only going to become more commonplace as things go along. Though “House” has been a bit of an interesting ride of highs and lows since my first viewing of it. In my mind I keep flip-flopping between thinking it was a good bit of fun and that I’d really look forward to watching the sequels, while at the exact same time a part of my brain thinks that it’s just a bit of a rubbish fluff and that I should probably put off watching any more of these for a while because I simply have much more interesting stuff I could be watching.

House isnt a perfect movie but since I watched it I think i’ve leaned more towards being interested in seeing more than I have had moments of wishing i’d never seen it. It reminded me a bit of an adult goosebumps. In the sense that it isnt exactly scary, but it is entertaining and has a spooky quality about it. It may come across to me a bit like a prototype of “The Burbs” but ultimately I guess its an enjoyable little movie in and of itself.

(The sequel to this looks absolutely mental…)

Split (1989)

Now I may not be 100% accurate on this one but I believe this was my first ever “Requested” review. And Joel (The absolute diamond who suggested this film to me) chose an absolute stomper of a film right here. Its absolutely astounding and the mental images that this film paints have stayed with me as clear and vividly many months after I watched this film as they did the first time I saw it.

This was the only film that Chris Shaw ever made and he was pretty involved in it as far as I can tell acting as 3 of the critical roles that a film needs to get made (Writer, Director and editor) but thats really just scratching the surface. Chris is this film to much of an extent there are very few elements outside of the other casts performances that dont have his fingerprints on them to some degree.

But thats a good thing here! This is a very clear and strong vision of how arthouse and experimental cinema can challenge audience expectations and be cerebral at the same time. This is a challenging watch, but in a good way. I came away from this film really wishing Shaw and his crew had made more movies as I’d love to see them develop and further expand there ideas using this film as a launching pad…even if it were a multi media endeavour.

Not much has changed for me in terms of my feelings towards split. The review took a very long time to put together because I wanted to ensure that the wording for it was just right. this is one of the only reviews I’ve written thats exceeded 3 drafts, purely because trying to explain my interpretation of Split vocally was a surprisingly challenging thing to do.

I would heavily suggest you watch this film with as little forewarning as possible because if you go into this film with pre-set expectations your judgement may get a little clouded by just how strange this film can be at times. So please. This is one of the few times I’ll actively tell you not to watch this video if you havent seen the movie first.

Also; I really feel the need to say that Chris Shaw is simply a very lovely man, and my experience of talking to him (While limited) was a real treat. Both him and his brother are wonderful conversationalists and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to ask them about split. This review has definately been a highlight for me of producing these videos. and had I not recieved the suggestion i’d probably have never found it.

 

(…I usually write a comment here about the film but what do you say about this thing…”Undescribable” is all I have really…)

 

Split was due out on Bluray in March of this year but due to some delays it has now been pushed back to an undisclosed time. However it will be released eventually by Verboden Video and I for one will have my preorder well in place because it looks to be astoundingly good!

If you are interested in owning “Split” please show Verboden some support by following them at the link below and possibly considering picking up some of there titles as they seem like a great bunch of lads too!:

http://verbodenvideo.com/

Cyborg Cop (1993)

From the worst movie I’ve ever seen to frankly one of the most unmemorable films I’ve ever seen. In all honesty I can only recall three things about this movie:

*John Rhys-Davies camping it up to an astounding degree

*A scene featuring a “Terminator” knock off slowly destroying a car and then a person

and David Bradley getting involved in a high speed car chase.

Other than that and some very fleeting memories of an opening combat battle which has a man fully on fire I literally couldnt tell you one thing about this film. In fact arguably had I not reviewed this film I may have forgotten that i’d watched it all together.

Okay so I’ve just rewatched my review of it to see if it jiggled anything out of my memories. It did nothing…I seem to have enjoyed it more than I remember at the time of writing so I may well be misremembering how I felt. But I can only honestly tell you how I feel about it now. And how I feel about it now is that I dont have a strong opinion about it either way it’s a “Grey zone” movie in my mind. I mentioned in the review that I think it could work well as a B-movie or as part of a double or triple feature. And I actually think this is probably the best way to describe this film. Its by no means an “Essential watch” but if your using it to subsidise another film (Like say “Terminator woman” or “Robocop”) then I think it could work really well…I’ll probably do the sequels to this at some point in the future…If I can remember to…

(You wont believe how hard it was to source a film poster of this movie for this review…I ended up using the VHS cover because it was the only “Medium” sized image I could find”)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

And so with this, My first set of Halloween specials came to a close. I really enjoyed making these episodes (So much so that I fully intend to do another season of themed episodes this October!) but I was always a bit concerned about what to do with this 5th slot. I was stuck as to whether I should Review this, “Zombie flesh eaters 2 (Zombi 3)”, “Land of the dead”, “Return of the living dead”, the 2004 remake of “Dawn of the dead” or that weird version of “Night of the living dead” that came out in the early/mid 90’s that was literally just the 60’s version of the film with additional 90’s shot on video scenes added into the mix.

In the end I settled on “Shaun” for a few reasons. I thought that it ended the series on a high note, I thought “Shaun” was a good reflection of the zombie movie genre in the modern day and it feels a bit like a continuation of the natural progression of these kinds of films within this series. We started with 2 different versions of “Night of the Living dead” and ended with a 21st century affectionate tribute to those zombie movies.

I also like to think that this is a good “Bookmark” point to end on. While it may not be for a couple of years I fully intend to revisit The Zombie Genre again at some point. And ending it here gives me a nice place to pick up from whenever I decide to reopen this series.

This period of time would also see me launch the first ever “TYTD Horrorthon” a 6 hour live stream of public domain horror films that amassed a grand total of 3 viewers for a few seconds at one point…and then 1 viewer pretty much for the remaining 4 hours and 55 minutes. Though doing this livestream was one of the first times I ever got positive feedback from someone for what I produced. A mother got in touch with me the day after the stream to thank me for giving her children something to watch before they went out trick or treating. and it really made my week. It only reinforced my personal belief that as long as one person comes away from it happy it makes it all worth it. I’ll be doing the stream again this year (Though as of yet I still havent decided what films will make the cut) and if your around and free at that time I’d love to have you on board! but I digress…

In and of itself “Shaun of the dead” is my favourite of the cornetto trilogy and further still is one of my favourite comedy movies of all time. The balance between the comedy and horror here is really quite fantastic and as I mention in my video its a veritable Who’s who of mid 2000’s UK comedians. If you’ve never seen it, even if you dont like horror movies, I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

(You’ve got red on you…)

Day of the Dead (1985)

For me, this is the turning point of my reviews. at least in my mind it is. Up until this review I’d found that I just wasnt quite hitting the right vibe I was looking for with these videos. I mean; Im very proud of what i’ve done up to this point. But from here on in I feel like I really finally got to grips with my video making process. I’d got the formula properly down. And while there would be 1 or 2 minor hiccups along the way; I feel that with this video I finally hit a good running stride for a while.

I still find it absolutely bizarre that around the time this video went live I only had about 12 subscribers (If memory served I would hit 13 just before Halloween itself) And thinking that this was only about 6 months ago it really astounds me to see how much I’ve grown since this video went up.

Arguably this isnt one of my most popular videos…it’s not one that gets a lot of attention. But I have a real soft spot for this one. I really enjoyed working on it and I was happy with how it turned out.

I find that the film itself is often terribly underrated by fans and critics alike. Though in recent years it has seen a significant reappraisal. I would argue that to me both this film and Dawn of the dead Jostle for the “Best zombie movie ever ever!”…It all depends on my mood. if Im wanting to watch something comic book-esq and maybe a little silly I’ll go with “Dawn” if however Im in the mood for something altogether more nihilistic then “Day” is definately my go to film. Everything about this movie is a totally bleak affair. it features some of Savini’s finest work and Cine and direction that arguably surpasses “Dawn” for me in almost every way.

Really this is an essential watch in terms of horror films. I can guarentee you probably wont see anything quite like this.

(The soundtrack is absolutely astounding. One of the all time greats!)

The Nanny (1965)

I have a real soft spot for the Hammer movies, they really have a charm about them. obviously there horror films are probably there most well known productions but Hammer had a quite diverse filming range outside of horror and sci-fi as well. The Nanny is a prime example of this really as its really more of a psychological thriller than anything really resembling a horror movie…I mean; I suppose the ending falls a little bit into the Macarbre but realistically the rest of this movie is about as close to a non horror as hammer could get really.

I think this is one of Bette Davies’ finest roles as the titular “Nanny” and she’s terrifically watchable as she flicks in style between the very sensible and well measured on the surface Nanny and the role she eventually ends up playing towards the end of the film.

I cover pretty much everything I can say about this movie in the review itself but I would also like to add that since publishing this review I’ve found it amazing how difficult it is to actually find much information about this movie. Mainly due to the fact that there was a CBS sitcom called “The Nanny” which ran from 1993 to 1999. I dont know how popular that show was but according to google it was more popular than this film…You can mark this one down as another “Underrated movie that doesnt get the amount of airing that it should”.

(Based on the “Bath” scene I can see why this one isnt played on Television all that often…still criminally underrated though…)

The Stuff (1985)

So I have a bit of a dilemma with this one. The Stuff (1985) was made by Larry Cohen and I LOVE Larry Cohen films. I really do. they’re often very entertaining and a bit manic. And I can wholeheartedly reccommend you go and watch this film pretty much without hesitation because its a wondefully subersive look at 80’s consumerist culture. However; When I first uploaded this episode it more or less instantly got flagged by a 3rd party company. the company who claimed this video for copyright infringement dont own the rights to “The Stuff” and I know they dont own the rights to it because not only did I get in touch with the official distributors who explained they’ve had problems in the past from this 3rd party company but that theres literally nothing they can do to stop them claiming copyright on their copyrighted material. So I got in touch with these theiving gits and not one of them would talk to me. they didnt even acknowlege reciept after multiple emails. So I challenged them on youtube after trying to reach out and within minutes they’d upheld the claim.

Meaning that this episode is the only episode on my channel that is currently set up to monetize to a 3rd party. So I wholeheartedly apologise. theres nothing really I can do about this and it makes me feel awful. All I can tell you is to actively NOT watch this episode (I’d rather take the hit) until such a time that I can re-edit and re-upload this video in a shorter form. What I can say is “The Stuff” is a great movie that you should definately check out!

(Conform!, Consume!, Obey…) – Mr. Snaffleburger