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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

T’is The Season To Be Jolly... Angry!

** Thanks to the website "Mediasnoops2" for linking to this article - see  this link here ! **

Ah, you have to love the Daily Mail. If it’s not foaming at the mouth about all those alleged "bloody immigrants" flooding into our country, or supposed "Benefit Scroungers" costing sensible, hard-working taxpayers lots and lots of money so they can just sit around all day watching daytime telly, or some other moral indignity, the Mail loves to stick its knife into the UK film classification body, the British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) at every, feasible opportunity.

On Tuesday 11th December 2012, it published on Page 4 of its wrag, another excellently awful article entitled "At last, censors crack down on sexually violent films that corrupt teenage boys minds". (The DM don’t do short-and-pithy headlines like most papers, just tea-spitting vitriol.)

As I have many non-British readers, I know you folks won’t have access to the article, and as the article probably won’t be online by the time I publish this blog article, I am going to copy out the entire article in full, and then annotate it with my thoughts, opinions and other assorted ephemera. That way, you can all read the article here, and then see why I have such a big problem with the article and the Daily Mail as a whole.

This article was originally written by Liz Thomas and Eleanor Harding, though written seems a little on the extravagant side, to say the least! I would prefer to say "cobbled together very poorly" instead. All content from the article starts with a number. Everything else is either my own words, or I'm using direct quotes, which have all been named and linked.

1) Sexually violent horror films will finally face a crackdown by censors over fears they distort the way teenage boys view women.

Right, in that first sentence alone, their are numerous inaccuracies. The BBFC’s policy on Sexual Violence in film is dead simple and dead clear: if sexual violence shown in a film has the aim of getting audiences to sympathise or side with the aggressor, rather than the victim, then such material is likely to be cut. (See previous BBFC decisions on THE BUNNY GAME, GROTESQUE, et al. ) The BBFC does NOT allow material that breaches UK law. Such material will almost always be cut, unless said material is integral to the film’s plot or theme, or is shown in a restrained manner. That is why you can see the nine-minute rape scene in Gasper Noe’s IRREVESIBLE (199X) but you can’t see the rape scene in full in Meir Zarchi’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1979).

Secondly, the BBFC are NOT primarily censors, but classifiers. The name is one big hint, and the other reason, is that the BBFC only intervene if a distributor is seeking a specific classification for their work (in which case the BBFC will say: "You can have the 12A rating, but you will need to make X, Y or Z cuts to gain it, or you can leave the film uncut and uncensored, but you will gain the more restrictive 15 rating instead. It is your choice".) or if the film breaches UK legal guidelines or is likely to prove "harmful" to the audience. (Harmful being dependant on the scene and the intended audience, e.g. depicting dehumanising and explicit sexual violcnce or showing dangerous acts in a film aimed at kids, being just two examples.)

2) The ‘long overdue’ decision comes following research which found widespread public concern over the increasing number of sexually depraved and barbaric films being fed to British audiences.

Which ‘long overdue’ decision are you talking about here? What research? Which ‘widespread public concern’? And wasn’t your article about sexually violence films that corrupt teenage boys minds, rather than British audiences as a whole, or are you just making this stuff up as you go along?! The Daily Mail fail to say that the "research" they are talking about here is an Ipsos MORI poll conducted earlier this year. (See the full research at this  link  here.) The "widespread pubilc concern" is research conducted by Ipsos Mori on a paultry 35 individuals! Yes, that's not a spelling error - a pathetic and embarrassing thirty-five individuals! Hardly "widespread public concern" is it? I have more people than that on my usual morning bus into work!

3) The British Board Of Film Classification has announced it will tighten guidelines over such films which will see more banned, or scenes cut from the content to protect vulnerable viewers.

The BBFC has made no such announcement of any kind, and I telephoned the BBFC to confirm this. In fact, the BBFC have simply said, and I quote:

The research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2012 highlights concerns about certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence to which the BBFC must respond. Much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film makers to explore. But they are concerned by certain depictions which may be potentially harmful to some. Most of those involved in the research expect the BBFC to intervene to remove potential harm from such scenes. The BBFC may also intervene where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk.

And now the Mail is arguing that content is being cut to protect vulnerable viewers. I’m sorry, what? All films in the UK are classified with ratings, that stipulate who they are suitable for. If a film contains adult material, let’s say sexually-violent material seeing as this is what the whole article is pertaining too, then it will normally receive an 18 certificate. No one under 18 is legally allowed to see such films at a cinema, or in the home. The fact that some under-18’s do see these 18-rated films, is NOT the BBFC’s fault, but predominantly the fault of bad parenting/bad guardianship. The BBFC cannot patrol every home in the country. Parents, however, can, and should be checking what their youngsters are viewing! So maybe the real problem is why aren’t parents doing this, and why are kids being allowed to get away with seeing material that is clearly not meant or aimed at their age group?

4) Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Media Watch UK said: "This decision has been long overdue. Films have become increasingly more violent and the regulations have allowed that to happen. This is what the public wants. People are saying enough is enough."
Media Watch UK is a pro-censorship lobby group, whose sole aim is to ban anything that isn’t suitable for kids, from being released to anyone. This can include banning of certain books, certain magazines, and TV and films. So, even a film like SCHINDLER’S LIST for example, could be seen – in their eyes – as being a film that should be banned, because it contains graphically violent material, in spite of the fact that the film has a lot of merit in its depictions of violence, and is a 15, and is not-aimed at young teenagers.

Ms Pattison’s quote is also of dubious merit. Who has said this decision has been long overdue? Media Watch perhaps? And which regulations have allowed violent films to become increasingly violent? I know of none that have allowed this to happen. She also says this is what the public wants? Are they? Which members of the public have said this, Vivienne? Can you show me who you interviewed, when you interviewed them, and then I’d like to see or hear the evidence that proves that the "public" have said anything remotely like what you are suggesting. I suspect there is no such evidence, and she is merely using her place as a pro-censorship spokeswoman to be a modern-day Mary Whitehouse. Ergo, this is basically Vivienne Pattison saying "I want more censorship, because I personally dislike the films that are currently in existence." That’s not evidence!

5) The decision follows anger last year over the release of HUMAN CENTIPEDE II, a film which includes graphic torture, rape and mutilation.

Who’s anger? The anger of 35 individuals. Hardly a piece of groundbreaking research is it.

6) The BBFC initially banned the film (see this  link  here) but then agreed to reverse the decision if significant cuts were made.

Not quite! The BBFC banned the uncut version of the film, on the basis that it showed a disproportionate amount of empathy for the killer, and no sympathy nor empathy towards any of the victims, in the depiction of explicit sexually-violent scenes of torture. It was this, combined with the explicit violence that the BBFC said could not be accommodated at the 18 certificate level, because much of the violence was too explicit, and some scenes were potentially liable to breach the Obscene Publications Act. See this  link  here. However, the BBFC said that the distributor of the film (Monster Pictures, a branch of Eureka) was more than welcome to resubmit a revised version of the film, if they felt that they could cut it sufficiently, that the narrative of the film remained, whilst excising the worst, most repellent moments of the film. At the time, the BBFC didn’t feel this was possible, but Eureka did. So they did go back and re-edit the film, then resubmitted it. The BBFC then asked for a few more edits, and a total of 2m 37s was cut, before the 18 certificate rating was granted on 4th November 2011. Oh, and I should point out that in Australia, the film was originally classified totally uncut and uncensored with an R18 certificate in Australia, back in May 2011. This was done about six whole months before the BBFC even saw a single frame of the film. The fact Australia then banned it, after Minister for Justice Brendan O'Connor took exception to the film’s amoral content is moot. Likewise, the UK and USA are – as far as I am aware – the only two countries to legally have the film available to buy in shops, in any version.

7) Campaign groups welcomed yesterday’s move, branding such films as ‘torture porn’ which dehumanise victims of rape and violence.

I’m assuming that by "campaign groups", the Daily Mail is referring solely to Media Watch UK, and no other organisation. Again, I’d like to see who exactly welcomed yesterday’s move. Secondly, the term "torture porn" was originally coined by David Edelstein in January of 2006, in an article where he accused Eli Roth's HOSTEL of being nothing more than a horror film with "money shots" instead of scares. Film violence is not the same as real life violence. A film may depict a victim of a crime, in a dehumanising fashion, but that is not the same as a real-life victim being dehumanised by a criminal!

8) The report by the BBFC found: "[Audiences] are concerned about young men with little experience, and more vulnerable viewers, accessing sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women".

Which BBFC report would this be then? There is no such "report" in existance, only the Ipsos MORI research and a BBFC Public Relations announcement.

And which "audiences" are concerned? Adult audiences? Teenage audiences? Family audiences?

And by "little experience", I’m going to assume you mean young men who are sexually inexperienced or who may be virgins, yes?

And I can only assume that with the way you’ve worded that paragraph, it’s only a problem with teenage boys having a distorted view of women, but teenage girls don’t ever have a distorted view of boys, or that adults don’t have distorted views of other adults neither, yes?!

And by "sadistic and sexually violent content", you mean only BBFC-approved, 18 rated films, not the multitude of unrated, uncensored and unclassified pornographic and quasi-snuff clips that can be freely accessed by a few quick searches and mouse clicks, via any internet-capable device like smartphones, because that material is all clearly legal and acceptable, yes?! Oh, and such content "could" be harmful, but which there are no reports or evidence that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that such material is harmful!

9) It found that cinema-goers supported BBFC intervention – even with films rated 18 – to remove depictions of violence on the grounds that they may be harmful. Viewers were particularly worried about films which make scenes of sexual or sadistic violence look appealing which could reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy rape.

Dear God, this is total junk! What about the fact that the BBFC already censors, edits or cuts material that even hints at a victim enjoying rape?! Any film that includes such scenes, is likely to find that scene cut! The only exception I know of, is Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 drama STRAW DOGS, and in that case, (featuring Susan George in a double-rape scene, in which it is hinted-at that she enjoys being raped), the BBFC took advice from legal professionals, professionals who work in the field with victims of rape and sexual violence, as well as medical professionals, and they all said that the ambiguity of the first rape is given context by the second rape. That is to say, whilst the first rape shows George appearing to enjoy it, the second rape clearly demonstrates that she does not enjoy the act at all. In fact, she is terrified by both rapes. So, no! No film can include scenes in which victims are shown to "enjoy rape"! If this is what the professionals are saying, how can the Daily Mail claim otherwise?!

10) The research is all the more potent in the age of internet, where youngsters can access 18-rated content online without having to prove their age.

Wrong again. If content has been rated 18 by the BBFC, then the website hosting such content has to include barriers and precautions to prevent under-18’s from accessing or viewing it. It’s a legal requirement. If youngsters are accessing material that is not 18-rated, but just clips on sites like YouTube, Vimeo or YouPorn, then I’m afraid that’s not the fault of the BBFC, but of those sites. In fact, anyone – young or old – can access some truly nasty material with just a few searches via Google, if they should wish to do so. However, the BBFC cannot (and does not) police the entire internet. Expecting them to do so, is both facile, stupid and utterly deranged. And dare I mention that the Daily Mail’s own site, needs no age-verification, and yet it contains pictures and articles that aren’t exactly wholesome, family-friendly fun?! Or should we just continue on with the BBFC-bashing?

11) The BBFC concluded its policy did not ‘capture all the issues’ and as a result has strengthened its guidelines for films by including a list of ‘indicators’ it has to assess the film against before suggesting cuts or classification.

What policy? You mean the policy that the BBFC always follow, that policy? The BBFC adjusts its policies in line with legal guidelines, and with the changing tastes of the public. If the public is happy to allow violence at a PG level, then the BBFC may allow some violence in some PG-films. If the public tolerates and accepts explicit sexual material in ordinary 18-rated films, then the BBFC may allow such material to be included in these films. However, the BBFC already assesses every single film for "suitability", both in the cinema and in the home, and has been doing this for around 100 years. Where has the Daily Mail been, to fail to notice this tiny, little fact? Policies are fluid: constantly evolving and changing with the people and places it finds itself in. There is no hard and fast rules that say X is acceptable, but Y is not.

12) David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said: "There is no "one size fits all" rules for any theme under the BBFC classification guidelines, as long as what is depicted is within the law and does not pose a harm risk."

Exactly! Well said, David. Shame the Daily Mail don’t want to listen to that statement.

13) "Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work’s overall message, can aggravate a theme, or make it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors in helpful in arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection."

Brilliant! The very thing that the Daily Mail doesn’t do, and doesn’t want to do. This is the same paper that doesn’t want to sign-up to the recommendations in the Leveson Report, because editor/manager Paul Dacre feels that the freedom of the press will be censored and stifled. So, it seems it’s ok for the BBFC to stifle freedom of expression, but those same rules should not apply to the Daily Mail. Classic!

14) In recent years there has been a trend for increasingly dark, violent and sexually violent films including Lars Von Triers’ Antichrist, which had scenes of genital mutilation.

This would be the 18 certificate Lars Von Trier film (there’s no "s" on the end of his name, you muppets, and if you meant "Trier's" film, then you need to learn when and when not to use an apostrophe!) that more people went to see, once Christopher Tookey wrote a lengthy, heavily warped and biased rant in your paper, moaning about graphic violence in films, but which may have had substantially less of an audience if people hadn’t devoted pages and pages of press print space to its sometimes extreme and challenging content? (See this  link  here, to read the pricelessly awful original article, or  here  to read a good response from website

This would be the same film, in which many people found quite boring and dull, and to which you have to get through a good 90-plus minutes of heavy dialogue and pretension, in order to arrive at the metaphorical "money-shot"? This would be the same, 18-certificate film, that has the female character break the male characters penis with her hands, in an act of disturbed aggression, before she then proceeds to genitally mutilate herself, again, as an act of aggression and disturbance towards her own body and her own psychological breakdown? (For what it's worth, I actually quite like ANTICHRIST, but I know that many people find it a harrowing and horrible viewing experience.)

15) There has also been Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, which depicts brutal violence against women, and Wolf Creek, which showed rape, torture and mutilation.

So that’s two more 18-certificate films, prurient readers of the Daily Mail can now go and seek out from their local Blockbusters, watch in abject disgust,  just so they can then write-in, and complain about, yes? Clearly in the Daily Mail’s world, there really is no such thing as bad publicity, when it’s not the Daily Mail that is being lambasted. While we’re at it, don’t tell the Daily Mail that there are even more graphic films out there, than these ones. Shush, keep it to yourself!

16) Mrs Pattinson added: "We know that it is easy for youngsters to access this kind of material, either via DVD or streaming it online. They are vulnerable to this content. I have issues with films like The Human Centipede. They are dehumanising the victims and treating them as lumps of meat."

So, Mrs Pattinson, because you don’t like these films, and presumably would never actually watch them in the first place, you want to stop everyone else seeing them, so we can go back to the good old Victorian days? The days in which there was abject poverty amongst many people. The days in which young children of ten and twelve years of age would be forced to do, hard manual labour, and get paid a pittance? The days in which children were torn from their families? The great days when child abuse and spousal abuse went on, and the law turned a blind eye? The days in which women were treated as second-rate individuals, who had zero rights, and to which the laws saw as subservient to their husbands and/or fathers? The days in which classic literature like Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus was performed – a play that features rape, incest and cannibalism? Or, the days in which Penny Dreadfuls existed for the masses? You mean, those days, in which there was never any sexual violence of any sort?! That lovely, wonderful time, when Jack The Ripper didn’t go around butchering female prostitutes, and he didn’t need films to get him in the mood to go out and perform such crimes? You must mean those great, old, days! How silly of me to misinterpret your quote!

17) Judy Reith, director of parenting organisation Parenting People added: “Anything that protects children and enables parents to manage what their children are seeing is a supportive move.”

In that case, can we ban all newspapers, all TV shows, all radio. In fact, let’s just wipe the entire world of the modern media out, in one, fell, swoop, and then there’ll never be any chance of little Johnny or Janey ever doing (or seeing) anything wrong. Let’s destroy all comic books, all books of any kind. We’ll ban all forms of advertising. We’ll shut down the Interent, ban smartphones, and then we’ll go on to banning vehicles, businesses we don’t like, and any form of anything that is not parent or child-friendly. That means we’ll also ban the Daily Mail too, and the Daily Mail website (which has an alleged audience of around three millions sad bastards every, single week)! In fact, let’s go back to the Stone Age, and see how long humans survive with just stone tools, a modicum of clothing, no modern medicines, and limited luxuries like lighting and heating, and take our chances. That’s a really sensible idea, isn’t it?!

18) "Violent material can frighten people, it can make people curious and it can make them feel that something like that is acceptable for one person to do to another."

Horror films, horror comics, and horror stories are meant to frighten people. Just as comedies are meant to make us laugh, or thrillers are meant to excite us, and weepies are meant to tug at our heartstrings. Such media isn’t made just for the sheer hell of it, you know, or are you implying that Tom And Jerry cartoons will also make kids want to bash each other around the head with cymbals, and frying pans too?

19) "It’s important to keep that regulation in there to protect impressionable minds".

You may want to tell that to idiotic adults who happen to be parents, who go into stores up and down this fair Isle of ours, and buy little Johnny and Janey adult-rated games and films, or who let Johnny and Janey unsupervised access to the internet, because these parents can’t be arsed to say: "You can’t watch that film, or play this game, because it isn’t suitable for you!" If such parents are willingly open to abuse such restrictions (like BBFC and PEGI ratings), then nothing the BBFC does will stop little Johnny and Janey from seeing something they shouldn’t. The buck stops with the parents, not the BBFC or any amount of legislation.

20) The BBFC has banned only two films in the past

Wrong! The BBFC have banned many films in the past. They have, however, only banned two in the past year or so. The BBFC, nor the Daily Mail, seem to care then, that these films can also be legally purchased online from any number of online vendors, including the likes of Amazon, with just a few clicks of a mouse, and Amazon has no age-verification processes in place to stop someone under 18 from purchasing these items. Any child with a valid Visa or Mastercard debit card, can simply purchase these (and other far, more abhorrent films) should they so wish to do so. But I don’t see the Daily Mail having a go at Amazon!

21) The BBFC rejects film only rarely, preferring to give advice about how appropriate cuts would achieve the preferred certificate. If a film is banned, it means it cannot be released in the UK and showing or supplying it is illegal.

End the article by stating the bleeding obvious, why don’t you! Jesus wept! I dare not call it journalism, for it is nothing more than opinion masquerading as investigative journalism.

Just to add insult to injury, there is a box-out on the same page, written by Christopher Tookey – a film critic who seems to openly hate many modern films, which does beg the question of "Why do you do this job, if you hate it so much"? In this box-out, Tookey has a rant about Tom Six’s THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE, the film’s content and how the BBFC seems to be failing Britain’s film-going public! It’s helpfully highlighted with a picture of the two main heroines’, but taken from the original HUMAN CENTIPEDE film. Mr Tookey can’t even illustrate his diatribe properly, let alone write anything factual. The fact that Tookey says about the cuts, and I quote...

A total of 2 minutes and 37 seconds, but these did little to disguise anything that was happening a hoot in and of itself. If Tookey really meant what he said, then he would know that unless he has either seen the full and uncut version (in which case, how, where and why did he see this), or if he were psychic perhaps, there is no way he could know what actually happens during those missing 157 seconds. Unless, that is, someone told him what happened.

I haven’t yet seen the uncut version, though I have read and seen enough clips to know what does happen during the 2m 37s of cuts. In fact, I can probably tell you far more than Mr Tookey ever could! I know for a fact that if Christopher Tookey was really as clever as he thinks he is, he couldn’t possibly have worked out what happens during the censored scenes, just from viewing the BBFC-approved, cut version.

The box-out then goes on to mention A SERBIAN FILM (quelle surprise - see previous blog posts from me on this one) and CRASH, the rather average David Cronenberg film from the mid-1990’s. A film, which the Daily Mail famously demanded via full-page front cover articles and headlines, be banned from the entire country, because it was so filthy, depraved and would corrupt anyone who watched it. The irony, being, that most parts of the UK got to see it uncut, except for Westminster in Central London, who famously (and rather stupidly) banned it from cinemas in their jurisdiction. He then goes on to talk about Torture Porn, and laughably states:

"Many of these have had HOSTEL or SAW in the title, and as a film critic, I have had the misfortune to see them all."

Poor diddums!

Hopefully, from this blog post, dear readers, you will take away the following things:

1) Christopher Tookey is a total moron, and a film critic who doesn’t deserve the career he has chosen for himself. I would love to be paid to write about films, for a national newspaper, that sells about two million copies each day, but I should be so lucky. If he hates films as much as he seems too, then maybe he needs to re-evaluate his chosen career path!

2) The Daily Mail really does write a lot of tat in its paper, and doesn’t deserve the luxury of being  labelled a "newspaper"! If you want to see what quality journalism looks like, don't go visiting the Daily Mail site!

3) Thirdly: never take anything you read at face-value. Learn to discriminate. Even if it’s someone you like reading, an author you engage with, yes – even someone like me – don’t count on everything they say being 100% truthful. Read other people’s views and opinions. Differentiate between opinions, commentary, and empirical evidence, and learn to read between the metaphorical lines. Just because I say something is so, doesn’t make it so. Evaluate everything, and learn to educate yourselves. Your brain will thank you for it.

4) Lastly, and I humbly apologise for the heavy sermonising here, but banning something won’t stop people from getting hold of it. If you are the parent of a child, make sure you supervise what they see, read and access online. Organisations like the BBFC or the MPAA, can only do so much, but there gets to a point where it is down to the parental supervision to make sure that little Janey and Johnny aren’t seeing things they can neither morally understand, let alone deal with mentally. It is down to you, to make sure that they are protected! Don’t leave it to everyone else to do your parenting job for you! If you wouldn't let your six-year-old son or daughter walk into a bookshop and purchase Lady Chatterley's Lover, because it isn't suitable for them, then don't let them access YouTube unsupervised, or buy them console games with PEGI 18 ratings on them either!

With that all said, I wish all of you the Happiest of Holidays, and I will return in the New Year, and be ready to continue with more of my articles, reviews and opinion columns, all dealing (in one manner or other) with extreme cinema. Thank You for continuing to visit this blog and reading my writing!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Arrow's Latest Relese - ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS

Well, I had to do it.

After all of the turmoil over my original 1-Star Review on Amazon, which I deleted (see previous blog post), I'm going to write a proper review here, albeit a shortish one.

Fulci's 1979 opus ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS (aka ZOMBIE, aka ZOMBI 2) is a great piece of shlock exploitation horror. It's one of the horror genre's greatest works. Yes, some of the dialogue is daft, and the plot has holes in it big enough to drive a Cherokee Jeep through, but the effects - oh, the effects - are masterful. Sergio Salvati's excellent cinematography, combined with Giannetto DeRossi's awesome SFX work, still retain the power to shock and disturb now, as they did 30 years ago.

I don't need to discuss the plot, as I suspect most of my readers will have seen the film already, and if not, then there are many other places where a plot overview is available. What I'm going to do is review the disc itself.

Firstly, the picture is very, very, VERY good. I don't normally say that, but Arrow have actually (for once in their sorry-arsed lives) pulled a rabbit out of the hat on this title, and the restoration work does look superb. There are still occasional flaws, but these are probably in the original negative itself, and any further digital cleaning, would probably start making the alterations look flawed. So, yes, Arrow have done good on this one.

The sound choices aren't so good, especially in comparison to Blue Underground's seminal ZOMBIE release from a couple of years back. Blue Underground gave us English 5.1 DTS, English 7.1 DTS, Italian 5.1 DTS and Italian 7.1 DTS. Arrow, on the other hand, gives us English Stereo and Italian stereo. In this case, the Blue Underground edition is far better. The film may never have had anything more than a Stereo soundtrack on its initial release, but the fact is, better soundtracks exist for this film, and Arrow didn't include them. This is one instance where the Blue Underground release beats the Arrow one, hands-down!

The other main issue, is the Extras. Blue Underground included a 90-minute documentary on Disc 2 of their 2-Disc Blu-Ray release, which was simply astounding. It was intelligent, it was detailed, it was entertaining. Arrow's extras are a real hit-and-miss affair.

On the upside, they include two new Audio Commentaries: one with screenwriter Elisa Briganti and moderated by Calum Waddell. The other, with Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower and horror expert Alan Jones. I've not listened to either of them in full yet, but the bits I skipped through seem to be engaging and entertaining.

ALIENS, CANNIBALS AND ZOMBIES: A TRILOGY OF ITALIAN TERROR has Ian McCulloch discussing his roles in ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS, CONTAMINATION and the dumb-but-fun ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST. It's an okay extra, but we don't learn too much, and McCulloch whilst a nice-enough bloke, does basically state that he didn't have much respect for the films. Also, one truly annoying inclusion is Naomi Holwill's childish animations, that do look like a five-year-old had painted them. I'm sorry, but these kind of things are what makes me give Arrow releases such a hard time. Moreso, when Ms Holwill's animation is the same scene repeated multiple times - a female character having a splinter in the eye: a supposed homage to ZOMBIE FLESH-EATER's infamous eyeball scene of the same kind. I love animation. But using the same infantile messes repeatedly, annoy the hell out of me. They make High Rising Productions works seem childish. These are the kind of things Arrow should NOT be including. Please stop including them!

THE MEAT MUNCHING MOVIES OF GINO ROSSI is good, but short. Giannetto DeRossi showcases some of the props he used on may Italian horror films, of the past twenty years or so, and explains how some of them were created. It's pretty good, but I would have liked it to have been more detailed.

ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS - FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN, however, is a disaster of an extra. What we get in the mercifully short running time (about 3 minutes) is Calum Waddell basically "oohing" and "ahhing" over an original shooting script of ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS, which originally held the title of ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD. He briefly tries to get the camera to look at some of the script pages, but the camera is hand-held, and the focus is all over the place. This is not a good extra. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it's pretty redundant, and borderline sycophantic. Definitely not one worthy of inclusion, other than as a bit of Arrow arse-licking!

Finally, you have FROM ROMERO TO ROME: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE FILM in which various scholars, writers and film-critics discuss memories of the zombie horror movie genre. A fun, and relatively informative extra, but overall, this is still not quite as good as the 90-minute Blue Underground documentary.
There are a few other extras, such as trailers, the full-colour booklet, which is very good, and a reversible sleeve (where you can choose from the original UK artwork featuring the hand coming out of a graveyard, or the infantile scrawlings of Graham Humphreys, that look like a six-year-old was told to come-up with something for a video cover). Take a guess as to which one I chose?! These are nice and fun, but they're not very fulfilling.

So, ultimately, on the extras front, I prefer the solid work from Blue Underground, over the quantity (and occasionally childish) work of Arrow. I'm sure some people will access this blog entry, and just accuse me of being petty and infantile myself. Well, look, if Arrow wants me to stop giving them a hard time, how about they strive to be a better creator of cult, horror and exploitation works? Are you aiming your releases at teenagers and young adults under 20, who might enjoy newly-created artwork, and immature animated skits/riffs, or are you aiming at adults (with money) who want quality work, created by sensible, mature adults who know their stuff?!

For me, Arrow is still very much a company I have an extreme love-hate relationship with. As I've said before, I don't want to actively see them fail. I don't want to see them disappear. What I do want, though - and I don't think I'm asking that much - is that they treat their releases and their content, in a more mature, sensible and adult fashion. Don't aim to fill your releases with lots of little featurettes, that are nothing more than fluff-fillers. Stop including stuff that is basically nothing more than your production staff going on a little jolly boys outing to Italy, so they can get to meet their childhood heroes, whilst simultaneously fawning over them, like some third-rate celebrity detritus off of a crappy reality show. Start including decent, meaty content, that viewers want to go back to and rewatch. Give us new material, that doesn't just rehash old tales and myths we all know.

Overall, I still feel that whilst Arrow's release has the better picture quality, Blue Underground's release is still my preferred release for everything else. And the 14, 5-Star Reviews on Amazon with all the Arrow fanboys wetting themselves in orgasmic pleasure over this latest Arrow title does not change my opinion of it or of Arrow. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. Arrow's release is still a flawed release. No major screw-up's this time around, but there's still a long way to go, before I become a regular purchaser of their titles again!

Arrow still needs to grow-up. It still needs to start to decide what it is trying to be. And it still needs to work out what it can do, to change the mindsets of people like me, who bought lots of their products in the past, but now won't bother, until they start making major improvements. One great release of a film print, does not suddenly make me change my attitude towards Arrow. There's still stuff they need to pontificate on, and learn from. I just wish I knew when they were going to stop being children, and mature!

To all of my readers, wherever you may reside, I hereby wish you Seasons Greetings and I look forward to seeing you all back here, in 2013. Thank You for your continued support, and for reading my blog. It is much appreciated. Festive Salutations!

ADDENDUM: Readers should be aware - Arrow has fumbled the ball on this release, again! The film has six seconds of footage missing. Arrow are due to sort out some kind of replacement disc programme, but as of 1st February 2013, nothing had been formally announced. As such, I cannot recommend my readers buy this release of the film. For more information, see  this article  here.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Leveson Inquiry, Internet Trolls, And Amazon's Review System!

Oh I do love the Internet...

This wonderful piece of ever-expanding technology, that lets us contact anyone in any country; lets us read about anything in practically any language, on any subject under the sun, no matter how intellectually-complex or how utterly, utterly frivolous, and yet it can cause so many problems, that - in the real world - we would all just safely ignore.

The internet is both perfection in a box, and the biggest, most repulsive, pus-filled wart, all at the same time. In this blog entry, I will discuss why I am currently holding this view...

Today, in the UK, the Leveson Inquiry (or at least the first part of it) came to a conclusion, and Lord Leveson published his report into the culture, practices and ethics of the British newspaper press. Leveson's report was extremely damning, and stopped just a hair-width's short of saying to all UK newspaper editors "You've crossed the line, you've gone too far, and now I'm going to punish you".

Those of you not in the UK, I've briefly mentioned the Leveson Inquiry before, but to re-cap, it was discovered in July 2011, that one of the British Tabloid newspapers - the News Of The World - (or NOTW as it was also known, and a disgusting and odious little wrag, not much better than the Daily Mail, whom regular readers will know only too well what my view of it is) has hacked into the mobile phone answer-machine service of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, and listened-in to (and possibly deleted) answerphone messages.

The Inquiry was into whether such action actually took place, whether this was the "norm" for the British Press,and whether the Press Complaints Commission, (hereby listed as the PCC),were going to do anything about it. For the sake of simplicity, I've only covered the bare-basics of the Leveson Inquiry, so I know I may receive some flack from some of you saying that the Inquiry covered other issues also. You would be right, but please indulge me once more, in this instance.

Anyway, the Inquiry Report was published today - 29th November 2012 - at 13:30 hours, and the Report was damning. Very, very damning. Totalling some 2000-plus pages, plus a further 48-page Executive Summary, this mammoth four-volume Report has been a no-holds-barred indictment, heavily criticising the Press, their methods of obtaining private and personal information (in order to help publish a story), and the manner in which they have singularly failed to look after their profession - legally and morally.

The NOTW did in fact hack into Milly Dowler's phone, and the PCC was toothless, and self-serving. Hardly unsurprising. However, many newspaper editors have been concerned that Lord Leveson's report would be calling for Statutory Legislation to rectify the problems. In other words, he was going to stiffle Free Speech, and the Freedom of the Press. Thankfully he hasn't done either. However, what he has done, is come down on the British Press extremely hard. The Report essentially says that the Press have a short time in which to clean up their act, once and for all, get things straight, and if they don't, then they will see Statutory Legislation be imposed upon them by politicians.

The reason I mention this, is that in the better, more educational British Press, there have been editorials over the past few days, demanding Leveson does not demand Statutory Legislation to be brought in. They say, that such legislation would stiffle true journalism, would stiffle a Free Press, and would essentially force newspapers to cease proper, decent and public-interest investigations. The truth is, nothing in Leveson's Report will stiffle any such journalism. In fact, in my view, none of the sensible, decent British Press (The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, the "i") have anything to fear from Leveson's Report. In fact, it will pretty much be business as usual for all of them. These papers, will still bring us worthwhile stories; will continue to run big expose's about philanderings, shady back-hand deals and the immoral actions of senior government figures (or business people like those in the Financial industry), and will still be allowed to print stories that are in the public interest (such as the MP's Expenses Scandal).

These papers, have nothing to fear from Leveson at all.

No. The only papers that have everything to fear, all the tabloid wrags. The Red Tops. The papers that fill their grubby little publications with tales of tittle-tattle; salacious gossip; kiss-and-tell triviata; rumour, speculation, second-guessing, second-rate hatchet journalism, that would be an insult to the average eight-year-old let alone the average adult. They are the ones who should be worrying. They are the ones who should be fearful for the future of their publications, fearful of their jobs, and fearful of what Leveson's Report will do to them, if they screw up again. Ever.

And rightly so, in my view. For too long now, has the British Tabloid Press (The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The NOTW, et al) has decided that anyone, and any story, is fair game. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are, or where you are, if they want to spill their guts about you, they will use any method to do so, and damn the consequences.

Publish a front-page headline that says you like to play Nazi-themed S&M sex games with hookers? Hey, there goes your private life for the whole world to read, in 3-inch-high lettering! Include a couple of secretly-taken photos, which you have demanded get taken by one of the dominatrixes involved, and then threatened to expose her and her private life to her family, just so you can make a quick buck? Yes, that was all allowed in the world of the Tabloid Press. Anything went, and nobody stopped them. Publish and be damned!

Oh, and don't worry if none of the story is remotely truthful. You'll just get a slap on the wrist, and told to publish an apology - which you will invariably do, but in tiny, bible-print-sized lettering, at the foot of page 37, one random day of the week, weeks after you've committed slander or libel, and long after the public has forgotten who you slandered or libelled in the first place.

The point is, that now, Tabloid Editors are going to have to sleep with one eye open. Every tabloid hack and papparazzo, (and to be fair, most of them are hacks and papparazzo's, not true journalists), will have to double or triple-check everything they write and publish. If they screw up, then Leveson's Inquiry may see some of them closed down... And I, for one, will not lose any sleep if they do.

Which brings me onto Internet Trolls and Amazon's Review System. I discussed this in my previous post. Well, there's been a further development. And no, I don't come out of this very well, so this is not exactly a chest-beating blog entry by any means.

After 12 long-winded pages, of name-calling, bitching, slagging-off, vitiriol, accusations - from me and from several of the other postees - I finally removed my 1-Star Amazon Review of Arrow's ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS Blu-Ray release - which is out on Monday 3rd December, if anyone's interested. Why did I delete it?

Did I give-in to the Internet Trolls who kept having a go at me, and calling me a liar, a treacherous deviant, etc?


Did I do it, because my 1-Star Review was not an actual review?


Did I do it, because my 1-Star Review was for an unreleased product, and therefore invalidated itself?

Again, no.

So why did I delete it?!

Simply because, I could. I got to have the last say. I got to say "you know what, screw you" to the majority of people in those threads who thought they could point-score by simply trying to pick me up on every, single trivial detail. I was the one, who had the last laugh - and, at their expense. Because now, there's no 1-Star Review for them to bitch about slanderous. Now, there's no option for them to go: (insert your own make-believe Internet Troll voice here) "Oh, you said blah, blah, blah, and you know nothing".

I got to delete all of them, and whilst they can try and claim some kind of smug, self-satisfaction that They won the argument. I can say to myself: "You know what, let it go. Most of them are morons. None of them actually knew you. You'll never meant any of them. The majority of them are probably just pre-teen, trolls desperately trying to make something of themselves behind the anonymity of a PC screen, trying to be big and clever at your expense".

And you know what? Deleting that review, and all 140-odd comments that followed-on from that review, are now gone. Au revoir. Arrivederci. Sayonara. Good Riddance. There were one or two, who wrote decent, intelligent posts. Some of those people, I may well come across on Amazon's Reviews again. But the vast majority of contributors were outright idiots.

In fact, I'm starting to think that the Internet is no longer quite the grand place it once was. The trolls are beginning to take over, and ruin the Internet. For everyone. Like the Tabloid Hacks, the Trolls like to make petty arguments, taking a counter-stance to everything you say, and simply regurgitating the opposite, in order to make themselves feel bigger, better, more adult. The Trolls think they know everything. I don't just mean in the general sense. I mean, they really, truly and utterly believe that they really do know every single fucking thing. About every single fucking topic under the sun. Of topics past, of topics present, and of topics to come in the future.

These fuckwits seem to think, they are Stephen Fry-intelligent. Not even close, bud (to coin a totally non-topical phrase from John Hughes' excellent 1985 pre-slacker flick THE BREAKFAST CLUB)!

To the Trolls, I say this: "Start acting less like your shoe-size, and more like your supposed I.Q."

Amazon's Review System isn't perfect. It has many flaws. But one of the great things, is that - for the most part, at least - anyone can review any product, and have their little say in the world. It won't bring you fame. It won't make you rich, and you won't gain any special rewards. But you can have your say. You get to tell others what you think, and let that thought, be dwelled-upon by others. No one's opinion is worth more than anyone elses. And that's the beauty of the Internet. We all become equal.

Look, the Internet gives everyone a level playing-field. No matter who you are. No matter what you do in life. No matter what age, or sex, or race, or creed, or flag you live under, you are all one-and-the-same. You are all equal. No one is better than the rest, and no one need be more stupid. But the Trolls... Oh, god, the Trolls!

If it's not Facebook, or Twitter, or FourSquare, or Bebo, or LinkedIn, or any one of the other hundreds of social-networking sites that exist out there in Internet-Land, the Trolls seem to keep'on coming! Their age, their sex, their race, their creed, all bear no relation to some of the truly dumb-assed things that these Keyboard Warriors are willing to post, to gain their 15-seconds of infamy; to prove to the world, that they are the Number One Dumbass of all Internet Dumbasses.

There is no level they will not stoop too, to try to win an argument, or to better their personal opinion of something, over yours. Nothing, but nothing is too dumb for them to post, to try to come Top Troll.

Thankfully, in the UK at least, we sometimes prosecute the dumbest Internet Trolls. As a Brit, part of that statement makes me feel quite proud. I'm not against Free Speech - hey, look, I run a Blog, so I'm hardly in a position to criticise others - but at least I try not to say extremely dumb-ass things. My blog, is just my opinion. No one has to agree with it. Nobody has to even like it. My readership is small. I have had less than 5000 hits in 2 years. I don't mind. Numbers don't mean that much to me, to warrant giving a flying-fuck. So what, if some Internet Dumbass Troll, has a video on YouTube of him tipping a glass of milk all over his head, and has received 1.5 million hits. That's not something to be proud of. That just means there's 1.5 million other dumb-assses out there in Internet-Land, who think you're a bigger dumbass than they are.

So what if 2,800 other imbeciles "like" your latest Facebook post, in which you equate your President to a member of the ape species. Yeah, aren't you a clever one! I'm sure your parents are really proud of having brought-up a knuckle-dragging, neo-Nazi, racist thug into the world. God, the world really needs yet more knuckle-dragging, neo-Nazi, racist thugs, doesn't it?! I mean, it's not as if there aren't already millions, upon millions of other knuckle-dragging, neo-Nazi, racist thugs who don't already spout outdated bollocks, to any poor bastard that will listen to their knuckle-dragging chanting.

Have we as a species, really become so immune to Trolls, that we are happy to let them get away with anything (or should that be, everything) dumb? Have we reached a stage, where in 2012, it is considered okay to "like" or "re-Tweet" that "Mr X, a Member Of Parliament's a big, fat paedo?!"

What does that say about us? The Internet lets you access anything at any time. All you need, is some basic computer skills, the ability to think for yourself just a little, and then to let ride on the Information Superhighway. Out there, in Internet Land, the World really is your eternal oyster: an unlimitless land of knowledge. You will never got bored. You will never grow tired. You can access information, from the day you are born to the day you day, and not once do you need to stop, for fear of learning too much.

But the Trolls. They don't want an oyster. They want everything to be shit! They want to wallow in it, swim in it, and fling it at anyone who they dislike.What a shame, that Trolls always need to have the last say... on everything! Rather than raising people up, to be better, they want to drag us down. Rather than learn something, they want you to drown in an eternal cesspit of sludge. Not unlike our Tabloid newspapers...

... And isn't this where our story first started?

Just before I end, the BBFC has uploaded its latest Podcast - Number 8 - which covers the 50th Anniversary of Bond. Examining the films, the icon, and the censorship clashes within this long-running film franchise, this is another worthy listen. Alas, it seems the BBFC no longer lets you download these as MP3 files, and you now have to listen to them via  this  website instead. (Boo, hiss!!) Still, the other seven previous files are also there, and are worth your time too.

See you again, soon....

ADDENDUM: The BBFC Podcasts are also available for free download via iTunes, in their Podcasts Section. Just search for "BBFC Podcasts", and you should find them. All in MP3 format, all free, and all legally downloadable.