By now, I’m sure you know the drill.
Kersey’s back in New York, but now he’s in witness protection for some reason. His new girlfriend’s a fashion designer, who’s ex is a mobster using her business for a wee bit of financial laundering.
The girlfriend is killed, the ex grabs his daughter and treats her like a hostage, Kersey kills a bunch of people. The end.
There are a couple of neat kills, particularly the one with the football, and it’s better than DW4, but there was really nothing left to be said by this point.
You can buy Death Wish 5- The Face Of Death from amazon UK.
Paul Kersey is back in LA, his whole vigilante road trip a distant memory. In fact, this film seems to completely forget about DW3. Which is a shame, because, as stupid as it was, the third film had a lot more energy and entertainment value than this one.
The Curse of Kersey is in full effect, and it’s only a few minutes before his girlfriend’s daughter is introduced and summarily dies of a cocaine overdose. Kersey does his vigilante thing and pretty soon the drug dealer is dead (but not before knifing the girl’s gormless boyfriend).
Before long, Kersey’s had an offer from an old rich white dude (never trust the old rich white dude) who’ll fund him if he’ll try to wipe out the two main drug gangs in the city of angels, setting them against each other if he can. Kersey works his way through over acting kingpins, and at least one corrupt cop, with ease, before the inevitable double cross and showdown. Then he walks away again, like at the end of number three, but not as convincingly.
You can buy Death Wish 4: The Crackdown from Amazon UK.
This film features product placement by a gun company. That tells you all you need to know about its tone and intent. For the first quarter of the movie, Charles Bronson keeps going on about how he’s waiting for his friend Wildey to turn up. When Wildey does arrive, it’s revealed that ‘he’ is a rather ugly pistol. Bronson quickly fulfills his contractual obligations by explaining to awed onlookers that the gun takes cut down rifle cartridges and has some sort of compensator device which can be adjusted depending upon the power of the load. Wildey then proceeds to kill loads of street punks.
With everyone he cared about dead or alienated at the end of Death Wish 2, Paul Kersey decided to take a vigilante bus tour of the USA- like the Littlest Hobo, but with violent retribution. Finally returning to New York, he brings the Curse of Kersey with him- the old army pal he’s visiting is beaten by a gang at the exact moment that Kersey phones him. The old codger manages to hold on until Paul has made a mad taxi dash across town, then expires almost immediately he gets there.
Arrested on suspicion of the murder- and giving the name Kimble- Kersey is given an ultimatum by the Chief of Police. He can bring his sidewalk vigilante act back to the Big Apple so long as the cops get to look more effective than they really are as a result. Kersey returns to the warzone that is East New York and sets to work.
It’s particularly dangerous to be a woman when Paul Kersey’s in town. One of his new neighbours starts helping out with his street patrols- so the gang targets his wife to be so brutally raped that she dies of her wounds. A public defender takes an interest in ‘Kimble’ and makes the terminal error of sleeping with him. She ends up dying in an automotive fireball. A local shopkeeper is emboldened by Kersey’s actions- so the gang’s leader slices his wife’s throat.
The men in Kersey’s shadow don’t suffer as much. The battered old veteran who supplies a cupboard full of guns is beaten up and thrown off a fire escape, but he lives and is back on his feet in days even after suffering multiple broken bones. The Curse of Kersey is far worse if you’re a woman.
It all ends with a massive fire fight, leaving dozens- maybe even hundreds- dead and razing even more of the blighted neighbourhood. In amongst all the smoke and blood, Kersey just picks up his suitcases and wanders off, not really giving a toss that he’s destroyed more innocent lives and legitimate businesses in a couple of weeks than the drugged up scum he was killing could ever have hoped to.
A decade had passed between the first Death Wish and its second sequel, and a lot of blood had flowed into the gutter. Michael Winner must have moved with the times, making this a dumb action movie with a nod to the reactionary glorification of street law from the first two. It’s still Charles Bronson killing hipsters, though, so it’s fun if you ignore its attempts to say something nasty about the state of the States in the eighties.
You can buy Death Wish 3 from Amazon UK.
This documentary is part of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide, providing a lesson in how lies, lobbying and the media can create controversy from nothing and destroy businesses and lives.
With the arrival of home video, a whole slew of films were suddenly available for home viewing. What would previously have required a trip to Times Square or a low-rent drive in Stateside could now be found on the shelves at corner shops and petrol stations. The market for home video grew so quickly that distributors bought the rights to anything and everything. Giallo, grindhouse and all manner of cheap indie horror was rented without any sort of classification or quality control.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that these films were great works of art. Some were groundbreaking, most were entertaining and the most talked about ones broke numerous taboos. They were bound to fall foul of the sort of people who like to condemn things they haven’t seen. The usual suspects all lined up- Mary Whitehouse, the Daily Mail and otherwise impotent Tory MPs caused a fuss which became a frenzy, fuelled by research fudged to give the desired results. The Police got involved, raiding shops and taking all their stock- to watch down the nick later before arbitrarily burning it.
Once the frenzy was up and running, Whitehouse and the Mail found their useful idiot in the gullible shape of Graham Bright MP, who pushed through a Bill introducing over-the-top censorship. The law was used to destroy business and send people to jail, but was never even legal itself. All of this done to “protect” the lower classes from material that might corrupt them.
Almost every new entertainment medium has drawn calls for, and actual, censorship to protect the proles from stuff that might “corrupt” them- from vaudeville to video games. The video nasty palaver was just a particularly bad example. The moral panic is still in use- currently over benefits- with the usual suspects frothing at the mouth and propagating useful lies and damaging people’s lives. Censorship is not as bad as destroying lives, but it was an empowering stepping stone on the way there for fundamentalists (religious and Thatcherite) who bullied and cheated it into law. The takeaway lesson from this film, and the eighties in general, is to question all those who want to crack down on your freedoms for ill-defined reasons.
I watched the start of this film thirty years ago*, now I’ve finally seen the rest of it.
Obviously, the first Death Wish was enough of a success to warrant a sequel, so here we are- different city, same crime-run-rampant paranoia, more street law fantasising.
Run out of New York at the end of Death Wish, Paul Kersey now lives in Los Angeles. He’s designing the boring square headquarters for a local radio station and sleeping with one of their presenters. His daughter is even improving after the trauma she suffered in the first film. Things are looking good, until he tangles with a gang of muggers which includes evil Laurence Fishburne.
In a frightening development that Kersey doesn’t seem to have considered, the muggers can read, so they can find out where he lives from the contents of his wallet. They break in to his home to rape (and, later, kill) his housekeeper. Then they attack Kersey and kidnap his daughter, who jumps to her death before they can all abuse her.
Kersey is, of course, devastated by this- you can tell this by the couple of extra lines that appear on Bronson’s face for a few scenes. However, unlike the earlier film, there isn’t any soul searching to be done before he takes up his guns. All it takes is a minute or two of meaningful wood chopping and he’s getting the semi automatic out from its hiding place in the cupboard.
In the first film, Kersey never got the chance to settle the score with evil Jeff Goldblum and had to settle for shooting random muggers and scumbags instead. This time he gets a shot at closuer as, unfortunately for evil Laurence Fishburne and his gang, he has seen their faces.
As is the way with sequels, the set pieces are bigger but have less of an impact. The detective from the first film returns, though it’s never clear just why he’s there and he ends up dead. With all his ties to his pre vigilante life severed I can’t wait to see what it is that sets Kersey off in Death Wish 3 and how crazy he gets.
Buy Death Wish 2 from Amazon UK.
*On a school trip to France, there were a few videos on the coach that the teachers played to keep a gang of thirteen year olds from getting restless. They let Death Wish 2 reach the first rape scene before they realised what we were watching and stopped it
Eventually, everyone will get to take on zombies. As a bonus, this film gives you OAPs versus zombies as well.
A pair of bumbling brothers want to carry out a bank job to get enough money to save their grandfather’s old folks home from demolition. They rope in their multi-talented cousin, a bumbling crook and a psycho Gulf War veteran with a metal plate in his head
Despite a haul of £2million, things soon go horribly wrong, thanks partly to the psycho vet, but mostly because the building site next to the OAP home has unearthed a plague pit full of zombies. As the dead shamble through the East End, the gang take a couple of hostages and head off to rescue their granddad. The old chap and several of his chums- including Richard Briers in one of his last performances- are doing a good job of protecting themselves. Luckily for them, zombies don’t move much faster than a man with a zimmer frame.
This is a fun addition to the zomcom subgenre. It uses Cockney cliches to comic effect- particularly the convoluted explanations for rhyming slang given by one of the old codgers- without overplaying them. There are some suitably gory zombie takedowns- the “mouth zombie” and undead baby being particularly funny. There’s even an appearance by a Routemaster double decker, Boris Johnson’s favourite type of bus. Digital effects allow for London as a burning wasteland and some neat zombie bisections.
There’s a short section about halfway in- when the gang are holed up after the bank job and zombie outbreak- where the film loses its momentum for a while, but it gets back up to speed when they set off on their rescue mission. Apart from that, the film’s fun and funny, with occasional laugh out loud moments and some enjoyable action. Providing you’re not looking for anything too deep (or truly gory), then this is an enjoyable little film. Buy Cockneys Vs Zombies from Amazon uk.
Onechanbara has been a popular game in casa Spinneyhead, so when I found there was a movie based on the game it went straight onto the to-watch list.
The film differs on key plot points and makes a little bit more sense than the game, though that’s not saying much. It’s some time after 20XX, and the dead have risen. Sword wielding, bikini clad* Aya is wandering the wasteland with her comedy sidekick, looking for her evil little sister Saki and the mad scientist who caused the zombie apocalypse. Along the way they pick up Reiko, who wields a magical double barrelled shotgun with infinite bullets.
There’s a fair amount of cgi blood, mostly well deployed, and some neat gory prosthetics. Watch the making of documentary and you’ll see just how much the cutting and effects add to the fight scenes. Aya’s magic sword glows as the fighting gets more intense and she can throw some special moves I wish I knew the key combos for in the game. The ending also hinges on a power up that’s often fatal in the game. I wish I knew how to get out of it the way Aya does.
As movie adaptations of game franchises go, this one’s not so bad. It’s no masterpiece, but it is faithful to the (admittedly quite silly) source material. And it has hot chicks, swords, guns and zombies. Don’t expect too much and you’ll get a fun little film.
You can buy Chanbara Beauty from Amazon UK.
*No, the bikini is never explained, any more than her 21 year old sister’s schoolgirl fetish get-up is. It’s what they wear, because this film offers a lot of fanservice.
Spinneyhead Books has a page on Google+, which is publishing flash fiction by Ian Pattinson and Garth Owen for the folks in its circles. These short tales will be collected and published in the future, but for now, this is the only place you can see them.
The Riots always started on the third Wednesday in June. The rituals and symbols differed from town to town, but they always ended with the fire.
The crowd swirled and eddied around Market Street as the panes were rolled out. Many of them were using the time to buy bricks and bottles. Perched on a vantage point up above them, on the rooftop garden of the old multi-storey, Mikey watched the activity intently. “What did you do for the first Riot Day Granddad?” he asked.
“Well, I wasn’t one of the rioters.” Mikey’s grandfather admitted. “In fact, I stopped the rioters burning down the local library.”
You may remember the original Red Dawn, a piece of gung-ho anti-communist nonsense from 1984 about the Russians invading Colorado. It’s been a while since I saw it, but I don’t remember it being all that good. Despite my reservations, it’s got a cult following and inspired a remake, which was shot in 2010 and starred Chris Hemsworth- later to be Thor.
The new version of Red Dawn changed the invaders to the Chinese. However, for various reasons it was shelved and didn’t see the light of day until last year. Not wanting to miss out on the now lucrative Chinese market, the invaders were changed to North Korea.
Worried that they had a crap film with a ludicrous premise, the studio knew they needed a really good marketing campaign, so they put in a call to Kim Jong Un. “Kimmy!” they said, “Kimmy, baby! We need you to prance around a bit and look threatening, so that the kids’ll buy the set-up of our new movie. Can you do that for us, sort of Gangnam Style but with nukes? We promise you the real Mickey Mouse, and we’ll build you a better theme park. Just act all tough and say some nonsense about how you’re going to destroy America. There’s no need to actually do anything.”
Kim was a bit late getting into the role- the film’s been and gone and is already out on BLu-ray- but, you have to admit, he’s very convincing.
Somebody must have thought that a screwball comedy exploitation movie would be a great idea. They were wrong.
Someone is running around town killing women and stealing their body parts. It’s no secret who the perpetrators are- a camp and creepy undertaker profiting from the grieving relatives and his neighbours in teh “Greasy Spoon Cafe” who are cooking up the stolen limbs as daily specials. Instead, the story concentrates on a rather well off down-at-heel private eye who’s in the habit of losing secretaries to the mutilators. After a bunch of meaningless scenes, the undertaker and his pals are dead and that’s that.
There’s no coherence to the comedy and not enough gore or nudity for an exploitation film, so there’s really no reason to watch it. But, if you still want to, you can buy The Undertaker and his Pals from Amazon.co.uk.
This is not the rather wonderful Richard Lester two part adaptation, or even the enjoyably cheesy Brat Pack version, but last year’s attempt to launch it as a brand with 3D and fan service.
The Musketeers are introduced as the King of France’s elite secret stealers- ninjas with flintlocks , or James Bond and Ethan Hunt with repeating crossbows. Tasked with stealing one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s designs from a Venetian vault, they commit cultural vandalism by destroying everything else in the crypt. Then they’re double crossed and disgraced by milady DeWinter and Orlando Bloom.
Fast forward a year and cocky pretty boy D’Artagnan is in Paris looking to join the King’s guards. Cue the three-way duel and the fight with Rochefort’s guards, one of the few scenes recognisable from the Lester version*. The rest of the movie is full of made up silliness and plot holes you could drive a flying galleon through.
Yes, a flying galleon- the one design saved from Da Vinci’s vault. Because those are historically accurate and absolutely believable. They’re just one of the many effects or action sequences shoehorned in to cater for the presumed short attention spans of the fifteen year old boys all films are supposedly made for these days.
It’s not all bad, I admit- there are moments of humour and it looks really, really good- but it’s just nowhere near as good as Lester’s version. I recommend you watch that one instead, but, if you must, you can buy the 2012 version of The Three Musketeers from Amazon.co.uk.
*I haven’t read the book yet, but for the purposes of this review I’ll presume the Lester film is close to it.
Black men who know martial arts, a staple of seventies cinema (even though one of these films is from 2003).
Robert Sand (Jim Kelly) is The Black Samuraui, top agent of D.R.A.G.O.N. (Defense Reserve Agency Guardian Of Nations). When his old squeeze- the daughter of the Minister for the Samurai Code- is kidnapped so that her father can be blackmailed, Sand cuts short his holiday to take down the satanists who have snatched her.
Sand investigates the only way he knows how- by beating the shit out of a bunch of people and eventually getting caught. There’s an entertaining, if over-long, jetpack sequence, a sportscar with a gun hidden in its rear wheelwell and lots of fights of varying quality. It’s never explained why the satanists employ so many persons of reduced stature, or how their leader’s pet vulture turns out to be a better fighter- keeping the BS pinned for at least a minute- than his henchmen. The story, such as there is, exists merely to hang these bits and pieces on and, as such, doesn’t have to make much sense. Which is good, because it doesn’t.
Next to Black Ninja, however, Black Samurai is a masterpiece of plotting, acting, editing and fight choreography. Black Ninja is a really, really bad film, but some of the awfulness is the sort that’s hilarious.
Malik Ali is a high flying defence attorney whose power suits are almost as bad as his closing arguments. Somehow, he keeps getting obviously guilty crims off the hook. Then he goes out in the night wearing a face mask and Zorro outfit to beat up the guys he just got freed. It doesn’t make any sense as a plan, but he does get to castrate the rapist he got cleared on grounds of stupidity.
All the while, Black Ninja is tracking down the man who killed his family- a Japanese martial artist who dresses like Fu Manchu and has an accent and camp mannerisms that jump across the line into racism. When Malik falls for the key witness in a mafia murder case it all begins to come together, sort of.
The lack of budget shows. The sound is awful, lighting is murky, the scenes static and the acting stilted. The plotting is dire and the script mostly maudlin rubbish. But it’s worth it for the occasional moments where it appears to develop self awareness and is genuinely hilarious. If only the rest of the film could have maintained the standard of these few bits of brightness.
Buy Black Samurai from Amazon.co.uk.
Buy Black Ninja from Amazon.co.uk.
The Big Daddy of all those vigilante/urban America is hell films, it’s incredible I hadn’t seen this yet.
It’s 1974 and all sorts of petty criminals, purse snatchers and muggers- including evil Jeff Goldblum- stalk the streets of New York. Well meaning architect Paul Kersey finds this out the hard way when Goldblum’s gang (Freaks #1, 2 and 3) do a home invasion which leaves his wife dead and his daughter traumatised by sexual assault.
As the Police investigation falters and his daughter becomes ever more withdrawn, Kersey takes a job designing some suburban sprawl in Arizona. Reintroduced to guns (his father was killed in a shooting accident and Kersey hasn’t touched a gun since) and shown a Wild West show, he begins to re-think his attitude to Manhattan’s street crime problem. Armed with an illicit pistol, he returns to the Big Apple determined to get revenge of a sort. In the way of seventies films, it takes a while for Kersey to get to this point. It’s almost 45 minutes before he’s wandering down dark alleys looking for trouble- so his conversion is more believable than just grabbing the gun and donning the beanie hat at the first opportunity.
Kersey’s vigilante acts are brief and brutal- but not all that bloody. He draws his attackers out by looking like a gormless chump with too much money or simply putting himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then he goes home to read the growing commentary on the mystery vigilante and enjoy comedy footage of the copycats he’s inspired. But, all the while, the Police are closing in, piecing together his identity from minor details in a procedural story that runs as a counterpoint to the blood-letting.
The denouement, when it comes, is something of a let down (and jittery on the version I watched because the DVD was scratched) when the politics of avoiding making Kersey a martyr override justice and he’s run out of town with a stiff warning. Arriving in Chicago, Kersey looks set to start it all again.
Death Wish is quite obviously a conservative and reactionary tale- though not going as frothingly over the top as so many of its successors and imitators. Kersey’s position at the start of the film would be better suited to solving the city’s crime problem- cut poverty and regenerate the slums. This wouldn’t make for as much drama- you can’t entice recession, inflation and bad policies down an alley so you can shoot them- but you can blow away a few of the brutes who are the symptoms whilst ignoring the cause.
Not that I’m complaining. Urban regeneration and architecture are fascinating, but sometimes you just want to see a gruff man with a silly moustache shoot people.
Buy Death Wish from Amazon.co.uk.
GOD Hunt is now available for the Kindle from Amazon.
GOD Hunt at Amazon.co.uk
GOD Hunt at Amazon.com.
Tammy, Tatiana and Miko- enhanced humans working for a mysterious Artificial Intelligence known only as Ruby Horse- have been sent to an Eastern European forest to shut down a secret lab which has started offering combat robots to the highest bidder.
“General Ordnance Division, shortened to GOD, had been the prefix attached to the model names of the original series of military robots out of the old United States of America. The name, with all its overtones, had stuck and been used to describe any robotic device seen in proximity to a human in uniform. From the humblest personal load carrier all the way up to the autonomous stealth cruisers- some of which were reputed to still be patrolling the Pacific and committing acts of piracy for spares and consumables- each one was a GOD.
With the exception of ghost navies and other legends most of the gun-toting GODs had done away with one another in the resource wars which had scarred the years before the emergence of the Patrons. But there were a lot of surplus unarmed GODs knocking around, and numerous civilian versions had appeared based upon the tech. GODs, particularly the older ones, were simple by the standards of current Intelligences. They were easy to work on, though modifications tended to have unintended consequences which were usually of the dangerous kind.”
After the Resource wars and ecological collapse, humanity has been saved by the mysterious artificial intelligences known as the Patrons. Facing open hostility and violence, the Patrons have recruited human enforcers. Part human, part machine, the Mongrels keep the peace and do their Patrons’ dirty work.
The first short story in the Mongrels series is now out through Smashwords. You can buy GOD Hunt for just $0.99
Tammy, Tatiana and Miko- cyborgs working for a mysterious artificial intelligence- must infiltrate a secret Eastern European base where combat robots are being built and sold to the highest bidder. But has someone, or something, already killed everyone in the underground complex?