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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Welcome Back, Everyone!

Moving home is always one of the most stressful things anyone can undertake. Having now just done exactly that, and moved into a new job too, my stress levels have been tested to their limits!

Anyway, there won't be any more posts from me for a bit, as life is taking over, and I need to sort-out a few things. I will be definitely back, later in January 2016, with some more news and film reviews, including my new article on Arrow. (And it's something that will surprise many of you!)

One story I can just quickly report, is that 88 Films' UK Blu-Ray release of NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN had to be removed from sale across all UK retail and e-tail stores, on Friday 18th December, due to the film not being legally cleared by the BBFC!

Quite what has happened, is yet to be confirmed! Stores received notice on Friday afternoon asking for all unsold copies to be withdrawn from sale immediately, and stock to be removed from sale to the public. All stock has had to be returned to suppliers, until further notice.

Since then, all HMV stores have removed stock, as have Amazon. however, have NOT yet removed it, and copies were still orderable from them!

Technically, they're now in breach of English Law (sale of uncertificated film material), but if you want to own a copy of the "banned" version of this release, you can still get it - for the moment at least.

Nothing has been posted on 88 Films's own site, nor their Facebook page, but they have withdrawn the item from sale, and it no longer appears as a release on their site.

Whether they will announce anything, is anyone's guess, but if I hear any news, I shall report back.

For now, though, I wish all my blog readers the warmest of Seasons Greetings, for a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Stay safe, and I'll see you back here in January.

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Short Update!

Hello Everyone,

It's been a while since I last posted, but I've not forgotten you all. I'm currently moving home, and this is taking up a lot of my spare time. As such, I will return back here soon, once I've got myself settled, and will be posting another lengthy article about Arrow, which will hopefully shock and surprise you all...

'Till then, Be Seeing You!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Film Review: HARD TO BE A GOD

Hello Again,

Clive Barker, the noted Horror novelist, once wrote:

Nothing ever begins. There is no first moment; no single word or place from which this or any other story springs... And this story, having no beginning, will have no end!

That quote is from his 1987 novel WEAVEWORLD. The reason I start this review with it, is because it is extremely apt to the film, I am about to review. Aleksei German's three-hour, Medieval sci-fi opus HARD TO BE A GOD (2014) is currently out at cinemas and on DVD/Blu-Ray, and is being touted as a masterpiece of modern cinema. On the UK DVD cover, is a quote, that says:

Possibly the greatest film since the millennium began.

I can assure my readers, that nothing could be further from the truth. HARD TO BE A GOD, is an adaptation of a classic piece of Russian sci-fi literature, by noted authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, from 1964.

It is supposedly about a group of scientists who flee Earth, and end-up on a planet that represents the Renaissance age, and is permanently stuck in the Middle Ages. There, one of the scientists, tries to infiltrate the local populace, under the name of Don Rumata, a rich nobleman.Some films you watch. Some you savour. Some you live through, and others you suffer or endure. This is the latter. What follows, is nearly three hours of unnamed characters entering and exiting the screen, eating, jeering, crying, slapping, yawning, screaming, vomiting, winking, grinning, grumbling, sneezing, smoking, shouting, leering, coughing, defecating, whining, whinging, gurning, grimacing and urinating, with no purpose or point whatsoever! Three solid hours! And it's all done, from a first-person perspective, so the film makes you feel like it is you that is being jeered, yawned, spat, winked, shat, and grimaced at! Lovely! Oh, but it is in black-and-white, so that must really make things seem better... No, it absolutely does not!

This is not a science-fiction film, in even the remotest of broadest sense of the term! Not by a long-shot! At best, it's a Medieval fantasy, but it has less in common with the TV fantasy epic GAME OF THRONES (2011 onwards) which it has been likened too, than it does MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam), and even that comparison is unfair to the Monty Python gang.

Imagine, if you will, if Ed Wood, Terry Gilliam, Lars Von Trier and Stanley Kubrick all donated sperm. This film, is the bastard offspring that they would have produced! It's the kind of film that gives World Cinema a very bad name. You know how people who like mainstream, Hollywood Cinema often say "If I wanted to read something, I'd read a book", in relation to subtitled films, then these same people would have their every fear confirmed with this utter train-wreck of a film. It's some of the most self-indulgent bullshit every committed to celluloid.

Last year, there was a Turkish film called WINTER SLEEP by Nuri Bilge Ceylon. That too, was an epic diatribe of nothingness. In that case, the film's 197 minute run-time had just one highlight: a short scene in which a child throws a stone at a truck window, and the window then shatters, bringing the truck to a grinding halt. And that scene, is the most excitement Mr Ceylon dares to include. Bilge by name, bilge by nature!

HARD TO BE A GOD is no better. Characters aren't introduced or named, and even on the odd occasion that they are, we don't know how they relate to one another. The dialogue doesn't help viewers either. It's a mishmash of pseudo, cod-Shakespeare, with the worst in mistranslated Russian. Nothing makes any sense. Much of the dialogue, isn't even full sentences. The acting is awful too. Imagine if Marcel Marceau had infiltrated a Troma film, attempting to put-on a Tolstoy play in Serbo-Croat. This might have been the culmination of many years of their work. The fact that the director, Aleksei German died, and his son, Aleksei German Jnr had to take over says much. Filming started in 2000, and continued for over six years. The rest of the time since then, the film has been in post-production! That should tell you something. Someone died making this piece of grotesque ineptness!

Ironically, the BBFC rated this film an 18. Yes, the film does contain some graphic content, but it's not that shocking, and some people have claimed that you need to be really intelligent to "get" this film, and to truly grasp what it's talking to the viewer about. I say "No". What you need to be is really stupid to think that this rambling mess warrants being labelled a film, and that this should warrant three hours of your life to devoted to it.

In many ways, the film is a three-hour snoozefest that meanders along to its own drumbeat: a drumbeat produced by a baby cluelessly bashing-away on a triangle, completely oblivious to everyone else's musical talents. The word "wretched" doesn't come close to how angry this pile of dung actually is!

If by some miracle, you manage to make it through all three-hours, with your soul and brain intact, then the extras that come with the DVD/Blu-Ray don't help explain what you've just watched. I've seen other reviews, that have said before you watch this film, you should download or read a complete explanation of the book's plot first, so that you will be better able to grasp the film. No one should be having to do this, to understand your film. If they do, then surely that tells you something is fundamentally flawed about the film you've spent more than six years making?

I am so glad that I didn't pay much to rent this film. If I'd have seen this at my local arthouse cinema, I'd have been demanding my money back. Even within the first 20 minutes, it's clear to the viewer that the director(s) really don't know what they are trying to do, what the film is meant to be about, and who they are aiming it at. You do have to have seen it, to experience just how rotten this film is! Nothing will prepare you for how bewildering this film is! In fact, I'm almost tempted to urge you all to rent it, just to see for yourselves, but I don't feel that would be fair. And I certainly don't won't the film-studios who financed, produced and released this work, to get any more money for it!

Simply put: you owe it to yourself to avoid this film at all costs. Do NOT be tempted to try it out, even as a bit of a joke. If anyone recommends this film to you, that person clearly has no taste in cinema! Diabolically poor in every sense!

Saturday, 19 September 2015


Welcome Back, One and All,

It's been a while, but I return with a new and very cult film for you to get your teeth and intellect into. But first, some background for you

Way back in the early 1990's, my local arthouse cinema showed this film, and at the time, I was still a youngster, and thus, there was no way I would ever be able to get in to see it. It was rated 18 and uncensored in the UK, but the MPAA in America were going to award it with the dreaded X rating. The director, Wayne Wang, decided to release it in the US, with a self-imposed "A for Adults" certificate instead.

At the time, the film's title intrigued me, and due to the rarity of information, and the fact that the Internet did not fully exist at this time, all I had was the brief write-up about it in the local arthouse cinema's monthly brochure. That film, was called LIFE IS CHEAP... BUT TOILET PAPER IS EXPENSIVE! Who couldn't love a film with a title like that?!

Director Wang is best known for works like THE JOY LUCK CLUB (1993), THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD (2001) and MAID IN MANHATTAN (2002). However, LIFE IS CHEAP... is one of his best and most unique works. It's also a piece of "extreme" cinema, hence why I am now discussing it on my blog.

The film is about a young Chinese American man in his twenties, (the film's co-writer Spencer Nakasako), who works at a Race Course, and is asked to courier a briefcase with mysterious contents to a gangster known as Big Boss, by travelling from America back to Hong Kong - a country he remembers little about. Big Boss also happens to be a tad ruthless, and extremely tough to meet, to actually hand-over the briefcase too! The film follows the courier's journey, and all the assorted strange and freaky characters he comes to blows with along the way.

Part comedy, part shock cinema, and part cultural diatribe about Anglo-Asian relations, this is an extremely unique film experience. For starters, the film is graphic, though not in ways you'd normally expect! The film certainly earns its X/18 ratings with ease. (In 1990, the MPAA didn't appreciate the scatalogical and adult content. Only when Wang decreed the film to be unfit for an X, did he self-certificate the film for US fans, and it did a small tour of US Independent Cinemas. In the UK, the film was distributed by the ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts - in London.)

If you are squeamish about seeing documentary footage of the slaughter of ducks, then don't view this film, as it contains two extended scenes of such! Likewise, a cruelly hilarious scene of a gangster delivering a monologue to camera, whilst suffering from diarrhoea! And director Wang's wife, Cora Miao, plays the Boss's wife who is having a lesbian relationship with their own daughter! By turns sickening, and yet scabrously hilarious, this is nothing if not unique!

The film is part-English, part Chinese, and features many scenes where dialogue starts in one language, and then concludes in the other and dovetails between the two. So keeping tabs on the dialogue can be a little hard at times. However the film is brilliantly inventive and a surrealist experience like no other. As we travel from America to Hong Kong, we meet gangsters, prostitutes, parents, a newly-wedded couple, actors paid to dub porn, and teenage thieves.

One of the highlights, is an eye-watering 10-minute chase scene, when the briefcase gets stolen. The entire chase sequence is shown from beginning to end, with almost no edits, as the viewer is put into the first-person-perspective, and we "chase" the briefcase, through dark alleys, up stair cases, through car parks, and smashing into and through doorways. Like a computer game, this scene is revelatory, in that you are put right into the lead character's role, and you are left breathless by the end. In a cinema, the scene would be jaw-dropping. At home, on DVD, the scene still works extremely well, but may make some viewers nauseous, due to the extreme camera movements.

At 84-minutes on DVD, the film is short-and-sweet, but none the worse for it. In a pretty-decent Anamorphic Widescreen transfer, of a 1.85:1 print, the image is stable, clean and clear for most of the time. There are very occasional glitches and nicks in the image, as the DVD has been taken from a 35mm print, and due to the rarity of the film, these little errors do show up. However, do not let this put you off. It's still a solid transfer for this low-budget gem!

The subtitle options are either: all dialogue translated into English, or just English for the Chinese language scenes. They were both clear enough to be read, and I didn't notice any errors in them. And yes, the reason for the film's title is discussed in the film, and also explained by Wang in the accompanying Audio Commentary he provides for the film, which is also worth a listen. (Wang lives and works in America now, so the Commentary is in English.)

Getting hold of this film, is a little harder. For starters, it's never been released on its own, anywhere in the world, as far as I can ascertain. To date, the only way you can buy it, is as an Extra on the second disc of the US 2-Disc DVD release of CHINESE BOX, which stars Jeremy Irons and Gong Li.

You must make sure you get the 2-Disc version though! Also, be aware the disc is Region 1 encoded, and is an NTSC release too! So please make sure your DVD player/TV can handle this format. This release can be obtained relatively cheaply from or from either of the following two weblinks...

Amazon UK - Chinese Box DVD (Region 1)

Amazon USA - Chinese Box DVD (Region 1)

The price is a little under £9 GBP / $10 US respectively. If you are wondering why it's included as an extra on this film, well, apart from the fact that it's got the same director, the film is - according to Wang - a prequel to CHINESE BOX, and both films deal with culture clashes between the USA and Chinese. As such, watch LIFE IS CHEAP... first, then go on to CHINESE BOX. Just be warned, they are very different movies, aimed at very different audiences. LIFE... is aimed at cult and extreme cinema fans! CHINESE BOX is very much aimed at the mainstream audience. So, I certainly wouldn't recommend LIFE IS CHEAP for anyone who isn't extremely broadminded! You can watch them independently of each other, but viewers may get something extra from this unusual double-bill.

Ultimately, this is a quirky, offbeat little flick that really does deserve a much wider audience. I am really glad to have finally seen and bought this film, after over 25 years of searching for it. Definitely worth a look, if you like a walk on the wild side of Asian cinema, and can tolerate some extreme imagery. Just don't say you weren't warned!

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Welcome Back, Everyone.

Today, we review the final part of one of the more notorious of film trilogies of recent times. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE series (2009-14, Tom Six) has finally come full-circle, and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3: FINAL SEQUENCE ends the series off, with what can only be described, as being so bad, so utterly rotten, so completely redundant, you have to wonder whether Dieter Laser wasn't sucking-off the director, to get this film released, and earn his pay-packet.

For those who don't know, the film brings back actors Dieter Laser (the mad Dr. Heiter from Part 1) and Laurence Harvey (Martin from Part 2) as two different characters - namely as Prison Warden Bill Boss and his right-hand-man Dwight - as they run a State Prison facility somewhere deep in the American heartland. Dwight tries to persuade Bill that the cure to stopping their inmates from acting-up, is to create a new form of torture for them to endure. Dwight's plan is to create the first-ever 500-person prison centipede, using the inmates.

The first hour is mostly dialogue and a vague scene-setter. The next 27 minutes, are the preparation of the titular centipede creation, and only in the final 10, do we see the damn thing.

Right, I'm not going to pussyfoot about anything here, or be polite. This film sucks! There are not enough words in the English Language, to truly describe what a festering pile of excreta, this film is! Nothing can describe how low this film stoops. Nothing prepares you for how much of the bottom of the barrel has been scrapped, to produce this most soul-sucking of cinematic turds.

If you thought that Parts 1 and 2 were bad - which I honestly don't think they are, as both had moments of genius within them - then you ain't seen nothing yet. For me, this is not only one of the worst horror films ever made, it is in fact one of the worst films ever made. I have had bowel movements with more integrity to them, than anything that exists in the 101 very long, painfully excruciating minutes that this film unwinds over. And now, I plan to tell you why.

Let's not beat around the bush here. The first two weren't masterpieces by any means. However, the first was an interesting twist on the classic Mad Doctor film (see LES YEUX SANS VISAGE, FRANKENSTEIN, DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE, etc, etc), and the second gave us a very dark glimpse into the mind of a psychopath (see HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, et al). Both were distinct and intelligent enough, to be watchable, even entertaining - in a very sick kind of way - and demented enough, to be watchable to those of us with more jaded horror movie palates. I know they weren't to most people's tastes, and I can certainly see why that is, but at least they tried to be different. They weren't a remake, or a sequel, nor a spin-off, and in this day-and-age, that counts for a huge amount.

That said, HC3 will test any horror fan's patience, to the very limit. Not only because the film outstays its welcome within minutes of it starting, but also because it just pisses on the fans who made the first two such big cult successes in the first place. Essentially, it was if Tom Six was having the last laugh, but at our expense! This is a complete, two-fingered salute to the fans: a solid, "Fuck You all, very, very much" from Six to us! There is practically no redeeming factors for this film. The acting is woeful. Dieter Laser has proven that the original film was a rare monument in class, because here, he's not even acting bad. He's not even acting poorly. Nope, he's not even acting woefully. He's not acting, period! He shrieks and rants every single line, and draws them out, with elongated syllable's that are almost as lengthy as the 500-person cephalopod of the film's title. Half of what he says isn't possible to be understood by normal human beings.

Within the first few minutes of the film, his character proves to be someone you will hate, but not for the usual reasons. His character is utterly unlikeable. Viewers will be instantly turned off by this trussed-up, cranky, grumpy, miserable, misogynistic, narrow-minded bigoted little turd, for the sole reason that he offers nothing to interest the audience. I haven't seen a character so detestable (or detested), since British Chancellor Of The Exchequer, George Osborne was routinely booed by everyone attending the 2012 Paralympics!

Even Laurence Harvey can't act for toffee. His mesmerising presence in THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE in 2011, was clearly a one-off. Everything that made him menacing, terrifying, nightmarish in that, is jettisoned spectacularly, and he serves up what is nothing more than a shabby, lame-brained dumb-ass who weakly and ineptly tries to kowtow to his degenerate boss, at every second, with one of the ropiest American accents ever committed to film.

But the wooden acting, isn't the worst aspect of this film. God, no! What about the plot, I hear you ask? You've not mentioned the plot...

...To be fair, I have mentioned it, but you probably haven't realised it yet. That final line in my second paragraph, is the plot! I'm not kidding! The plot, or what amounts to a semblance of something vaguely appearing to be a plot, is one person tries to create a 500-person centipede. That's your lot! A hundred-and-one-minutes of celluloid is spewed-up, and pretty much Sweet F.A. happens in it!

Yet, there's worse to come. Can the film get any worse? Oh yes! If you think the bottom of that barrel hasn't already been scrapped squeaky-clean, Tom Six still manages to eke-out a few more filings of bodily waste, just to compound the viewers deserving hatred towards this monstrous flick.

Eric Roberts co-stars in this film, as what can only be assumed, is as a State Governor. Once the Centipede has been created - a tenuous stretch of film-logic by any means - and we see it revolt the Governor, a few moments later (well, more like 35 seconds later), he comes back and... Well, I could ruin the finale for you, but I don't know if you'd thank me for it...

...Actually, if I do reveal the ending, I'm probably being wholly merciful. The ending has the Governor actually exclaim that the 500-person centipede is "just the kind of thing America needs"! Holy fucking Christ! We're back to the days of Bill Pullman in ID4: INDEPENDENCE DAY (1995, Roland Emmerich) being a jingoistic prick, and preaching how amazing America is. It makes you want to vomit!

When I watched this film yesterday, with a great friend of mine, we both wondered whether THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 cold actually get any worse, and Tom Six managed to pull another skinned rabbit out of his filthy, disgusting hat, to prove us all right. It could and did get worse!

I've almost forgotten another "highlight": Tom Six's car-crash acting appearance. Director's appearing in their own works, usually don't tend to gain much credibility. Such self-indulgent displays of sycophancy tend to alienate the audience, and they tend to laugh at the cameo, rather than laugh with it.

Tom Six appears as himself in this film, and yet again, we have another reason to hate this vile movie. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 should not even be given the courtesy or respect of being labelled a "film", because it's so Goddamn bloody awful. It should have been banned, for being so inept!

If you liked the first two films, even a little bit, then don't go renting or buying this one. If you hated the first two, this final film will just prove your original opinion to be ever-more valid. But to everyone who has rated this film harshly, I apologise. I should have listened too you, and I'm so sorry that I didn't listen more closely. You were all correct!

There are a dozen more reasons I can list, to hate this film: it's too long; it's genuinely dull; the crap ending that reduces the trilogy to the level of painful comedy; the self-reflexive bullshit that Tom Six includes trying to prove to everyone how "irreverent" he's being; the waste-of-space that is Bree Olsen; the fact the film doesn't even follow its own internal logic; the fact that the centipede isn't actually a proper Human Centipede at all, but a cheap knock-off affair; the inclusion of a Human Caterpillar, that is neither explained or expanded upon; the inept script; the boring cinematography, etc, etc, etc.

Actually, that's ten reasons just there. Need two more? Okay then: the fact that the ending could - potentially at least - leave room for another HUMAN CENTIPEDE film, and finally, the fact that for a horror film, this film isn't very horrific. It's just inept, in almost every level.

People say "There'll never be a director as bad as Uwe Boll". Yes, there fucking well is, and his name is Tom Six! Never have I been so angry or disappointed with a film! Wretched is a word that doesn't come remotely close to describing how completely vacuous and shitty this movie is! When reviews started appearing online, earlier this year, and people were disparaging it, I thought they were being stupid. I actually thought that they were just picking on Six, because this is a trilogy of films that has generated so much negative press since its inception, that people were just being overly harsh and critical.

No, no, no, no!

This is the most horrific, insulting, degrading, stinking, piece of pestilent waste ever shat-out into the world, and offered-up to horror film fans as entertainment. When the highlight of a film, is a scene in which we see a man have his scrotum cut open, and both testicles removed, then you soon realise this film really is so utterly fucking bogus, there is nothing that can save it.

I will end this review, with one final remark: forget that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 ever existed! If you see it in a DVD rental store, or in a rack of horror film movies in your local HMV, walk right on by. No matter how cheap this movie gets sold for on Amazon, don't be tempted to pony-up any money to see it. Just read my review again, and save yourself from wasting 101 minutes that you will never, ever get back again.

If this film doesn't kill Tom Six's career for good, then there will have been no justice in this world!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Everyone's A Critic! What Is The Value Of Real Film Criticism? (Part 2)


And welcome back, once more. It's been a while since I last posted something, so I hope you enjoy Part 2 of this article I first published back in November 2014, as shown  here  , and have now finally completed for your enjoyment! Apologies for the delay. (Life gets in the way, once more!)

Professional film criticism, by which I mean people who are usually salaried or paid by another media outlet, to comment on films, are becoming a rare breed. Since 2008, the Arts/Entertainment sections of many newspapers and magazines, have been decimated, due to financial costs. They were also decimated because of the Financial Crisis, that saw many media conglomerates see hundreds of thousands of dollars wiped-off their shares.

It started in the USA with many film critics being dropped or replaced, or simply being told their position is no longer needed. Thirty-one people found themselves out of work. Some of them, were household names around the globe, e.g. Roger Ebert. Why? Mostly because "people can get everything online for free". Sadly, this excuse - and it is an excuse - whilst holding some truth within it, was merely a clause to dump hard-working professionals that publications once respected. Now, with everyone-and-their-dog being an online critic - myself included - publications like Time Out magazine, The New York Times, and most UK and US newspapers have determined that film criticism is something not worth the money to be paying someone to do.

Film criticism started a long, long time ago. Farther back than many people realise, in the late 17th and early- 18th Centuries. It stemmed from the creation and discussion of literary circles by aristocrats and the bourgeois. The rich hoi-poloi talking about things they'd seen and heard - glorified gossip groups. Modern film criticism as we all know it, generally goes back to the 1950's and the French magazine Cahiers Du Cinema, with the notorious Andre Bazin. And Cahiers stemmed from an earlier magazine known as Revue Du Cinéma, that included Robert Bresson, and Jean Cocteau, as well as Ciné-Club Du Quartier Latin with Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Claude Chabrol amongst its staff. These were the directors who have created some of the most remarkable works of European cinema, in Cinema's entire existence. So the discussion was often technically complex, and detailed, often focusing on film theory and cultural theory, rather than merely a review of the films themselves.

But film criticism soon established itself, and become seen as an important part of modern culture, just as critics reviewed art, opera, literature, music and/or theatre shows. The public had a desire to know what it was they were going to be entertained by, before they had seen it themselves. Even then, reviews were often reduced to star-ratings and grades out of five or ten - much like they are today, and those ratings helped and hindered what people paid to see.

So what is "proper" film criticism, and what is the value of it?

In Mark Kermode's excellent book HATCHET JOB (Picador Books, 2013), he talks about film criticism in great detail; about the pro's and con's of being a critic, and whether any review of a film is actually a help or hindrance to us. Now Dr Kermode, is very much like Marmite: you either get him, or you hate him. I get him, and like his work a lot. I don't always agree with his reviews, and in some cases, have vehemently disagreed with him on certain horror films, like the woefully inept YOU'RE NEXT - as reviewed by me  here  - a film Dr Kermode loved, and which I saw based on the strength of his recommendation. However, he is someone I respect more than most other film reviewers. He looks at films from both the view of a film fan, and that of a critic. Most film critics only look at the work, from the view of a critic. So they will say whether they loved or hated the work, or why it does or doesn't stand-up to scrutiny, but the reviews are often cold, clinical and detached. (Film critic Leslie Halliwell was notorious for this. He pretty much loved any film made before 1970, and any hated anything made after that. Whilst he was lauded by the film critics themselves, he alienated many filmgoers, because he refused to see a film for what it was!) An excellent example of this, is the British Film Institute magazine SIGHT & SOUND, which is published each month, here in the UK Unlike every other film magazine I know, they review the films from a detached aspect. That is, they will tell you what parts work and which ones don't, but they rarely ever say whether you should see a film or not. The choice is left entirely up to the reader.

Now, the great thing about this, is that the reader is left to determine for themselves whether they should go see a film. The bad news is, that the reader is left to determine for themselves whether they should go see a film. And therein lies the main problem. Most people like (and want) to be told if something - a film, a book, a stage play - is worth their time and money, or not. People like to be guided; to have their hands held, and to be told "Go see this film" or "Don't go see this film"!

Unfortunately, this means that a lot of excretia makes money (Michael Bay's TRANSFORMERS franchise, being a great example), and more deserving works (like the superb KONTROLL - see  here   for more info) don't. In my view, and I know this is going to annoy many people because it will sound snobbish and elitist, any idiot can write "This film is the best film ever - 5 Stars!" (to use Amazon, as an example) or "This film's garbage. 1-Star!". That takes no modicum of talent whatsoever. Hell, even a 5-year-old could write that! So, Amazon reviewers who write this stuff, even if I may agree with them, tend to be people I mark down as "Unhelpful" because such reviews don't help anyone. The reviewer may simply as well have said "I love this film. Go and see it", because it tells you absolute bugger-all!

Another thing I hate, is people who waste 90% of their review, telling me the entire plot line, and then at the end, they crudely round it all off, with "Overall, this is a great film, that's worth seeking out" without giving me any justification to do so, or worse-still, vice-versa. Again, anyone with an IQ slightly higher than their shoe size can say that, but it's meaningless drivel. What I want, is for people to tell me why the film is good (or bad) in their opinion. I want to hear/read what works or what doesn't. I need to know why you love or hate the film so much, and whether it is better or worse than similar works in the genre or subject theme. This is one of the reasons I started this blog: to put online long, detailed reviews. In a world in which everyone seems to want to reduce every comment and viewpoint to 140 characters, I actually find it refreshing to see or read someone who gives me an entire paragraph or two about something. It matters little to me that you did (or didn't) like something. I really only want to know the why you liked it (or not)! SIGHT & SOUND tends to have densely-worded reviews. Their work is aimed at academics, theorists and people working within or on behalf of the film industry. As such, it is often verbose, and heavy-going. It is deliberately obtuse, because the reviewer - and by extension the magazine - wants you to really get to grips with what is being written, why it is being written, and not just the end-result - namely whether the reviewer likes or dislikes the film under discussion.

The great thing about "proper" film criticism, as undertaken by the likes of Mark Kermode, or Roger Ebert, Alexander Walker, Pauline Kael, Anne Billson, and/or bell hooks (the lower case is her own stylistic choice, though her real name is Gloria Jean Watkin), is that their work is detailed, and extensive and thought-provoking. They critique a film, and all aspects of it - good, bad and otherwise. There's meat on the bones of their reviews: stuff to get your teeth into, tear-off and chew over.

The vast majority of film magazines, don't do this. Most newspapers certainly don't, though there are of course occasional exceptions. Their reviews are often simplistic, tabloidy, and pare everything down to the most basic and simple of explanations. A follows B follows C follows D. The very kind of review that requires little talent. This is why I stopped buying  EMPIRE  film magazine, because it just focused on a basic, cursory outline of a film, and also tended to focus predominantly on major Hollywood output. Much of Hollywood's output, isn't actually that great anyway, and there are still some magazines who continue to publish reviews, and allow their quotes to be adorned on film posters, by blowing smoke up the films studio's backside. In other words, they publish a positive review, either to gain kudos from the studio/director, or on the proviso that if they get access to certain stars or crew members, or get unhindered behind-the-scenes access, then they will scratch the metaphorical back of the studio. This self-congratulatory, industry-backslapping does no one any favours. Least of all, the public!

Although no one admits too it - for obvious reasons, it's a career-killer - it does still go on! Which is why I tend to stick to SIGHT & SOUND. Although owned by the British Film Institute, they are completely editorially independent. The journalists and critics are free to write whatever they want - good, bad or otherwise. And with some of the greatest critics under their banner, you can be assured you'll get an honest review, if nothing more.

So where is the line between reviewing a work, and critiquing it? Is there a line at all? Are they not one-and-the-same? Whilst many would argue that they are the same, they definitely are not!

A review, is just that: a paragraph or block of text that says "This is a good film" or "This is a bad film". A critique of a film, will not necessarily say "This is a good film", but it will say "This is why this film is a good film"! Most people can review films. It's not rocket science. We all have tastes. We all know what we like and what we dislike. A decent critic, will try and put aside their own personal view of a film, and rate the film based solely on what it is, and explain themselves. I hate most Westerns. I've never been a fan of the genre. As such, I tend to stay away from most of them, because I have a loathing for them. Thus, I would be the wrong person to critique such a work. However, part of my role is to put aside my own like/hate towards a film, or a director, or cast, and see whether the film stands on its own two feet. Whether that film is a good film, irrespective of whether I like the field in which it stemmed from.

It's about putting-aside personal views. I like to think I do that, in most of my reviews. I try and cast my own cinematic net, as far and wide as I can. Whilst I have a penchant for horror films and extreme cinema - the very topic that this blog mostly talks about - I know my tastes may differ wildly from others. I have to critique a film based on nothing more than itself. If I approach the film with a closed mind, then my work holds no purpose or point, nor merit for that matter.

Reducing a review down to a few, basic words, and a star-rating does no one any favours! Take a look through any film magazine or newspaper, and scan their film reviews. More often than not, you'll find the vast majority are nothing more than star-ratings and a few lines of commentary from the writer/journalist. There's no substance there. Without substance, a review holds little weight: it is genial filler!

I know that magazines and newspapers tend to like short, sharp, pithy reviews, because of the limited space they have to house such material. But in 2015, in a day-and-age when we seem ever keener to celebrate vacuity, mediocrity, stupidity, and illustriousness, over intelligence, personality, dynamism, value and worth, it's hardly surprising that the films that get released and reviewed, tend to be of the same kind. For every KONTROLL, or A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTANCE (2015, Roy Andersson) that struggles to gain recognition, there's a MAGIC MIKE (2013, Steven Soderbergh), a SPY (2015, Paul Feig) or another TRANSFORMERS (2007 onwards, Michael Bay) filling-up every single screen at your local multiplex. If culture is dumbed down, then the criticism of it will be equally stupid.

With this all said, we have to ask one final question: are "reviews" actually helpful, or do they simply make it easy for us to have a decision made for us, whilst we simultaneously kid ourselves that we made the decision ourselves on our own terms?

As humans, we like the easy option. We prefer the easy method. We've been trying for centuries to make our life on this planet quicker, easier, simpler, faster, better. Why bother to read a review of something, if you can just skip to the bottom where it says "5-Stars - Go see this film now"? We love to have everything condensed and summarised for us. We love to be told "Do this, go there, eat that, watch this"! That's why Twitter is so popular! One-hundred-and-forty-characters max! Let someone else do all the hard-work, the thinking, the cognitive processing for us, so we can save our time and energy to focus on that next phone vote on CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER! Let's continue to be told who to like, what to support, and where to go to have fun, rather than finding that out for ourselves. Social Media platforms like Foursquare have been created, so that you don't need to think where you can go to do something. You'll be told where to go: where to be to have fun, like all the other people who are supposedly having fun! It's patronising, and insulting! It's a platform, that is anti-social, because it implies that if you aren't one of the crowd, then you aren't worthy of being part of the crowd in the first place.

Despite our best efforts, we're still a long, long way from having a truly easy life, like that which was pitched to us in the 1950's and 60's, with robots in every household, tending to our every need. A time in which we wouldn't need to work at all, but where we could play all day long, doing whatever we wanted, because robots would be doing all the hard-work for us. Something's clearly gone majorly wrong, because we're working more hours than ever before; being paid less than ever, and having even less free time than we had ten years previously! Hardly what we'd call progress! So, of course, we need to maximise what little leisure time we have, and thus, that is why so many people like to be told where to go, who to see, and what to do.

That, of course, has its place, but if we don't discover things on our own, we lose the ability to dispassionately weigh-up one cultural item over another, and say which is the better. Sometimes, the best way to review a film, is simply to sit down in a cinema or at home, and watch it for ourselves. If we all experience the same things, then more of the same simply gets made (or rather, remade)! If my reviews help you try out new works, and entice you to explore your local DVD/Blu-Ray store in a little more detail or more often, or even convinces you to try a film you've never heard of before, then my work as a critic has been done!

Criticism has its place, but that place is under a very real threat of extinction. Let's not let that happen.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


Hello Again.

Every so often, I find it beneficial to take time out from watching fictional horror works, and remind myself of the real horrors that once existed, throughout history. An emotional recalibration, of sorts. This allows me to never become desensitised to some of the graphic and unsettling material I often view.

Thankfully, nothing can ever come close to the real-world horrors that took place in 1940's in Germany, from the Nazi's, with which the documentary film GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS: FACTUAL SURVEY depicts, and which I am going to review here for you.

The Concentration Camps were considered to be, and still are considered to be, humanity's worst ever atrocities. Even during the height of the Cold War, and the impending threat of Nuclear War in the 1980's, never have human beings stooped so low, as to use fellow humans as medical experiments and to force them to suffer, purely for the sick enjoyment of the torturers. (The possible exception may be the events of China in 1937, at Unit 731.)

The British Film Institute (BFI) and Imperial War Museum, London (IWM), have joined together, and recently resurrected and restored a notorious piece of cinema, originally partly photographed by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein. The film was comprised of reels of silent footage from German Concentration Camps, which is where this film gets its title from, and this film is now doing a short tour of the United Kingdom, before - we hope - an eventual UK DVD release later this year.

This 88 minute, 18-certificate documentary feature, is quite possibly the most harrowing thing I've watched, for the sole reason that everything you see on screen is 100% genuine! This is real-life death and suffering, writ large! The BFI and IWM realised that few viewers would be able to stomach much of what is shown. Thankfully, they have topped-and-tailed the 75 minute main feature, with an Introduction and Outro, that allows viewers to "decompress".

In the Introduction, we meet the restoration team and staff from both the BFI and IWM, who give a brief talk about the forthcoming material. They warn you in no uncertain circumstances that what you are about to witness, will unsettle, distress and horrify the audience - as it should - and that it should be a warning to all humanity, that we never, ever repeat what happened in the Second World War. They explain why the film exists, how it came to be in the IWM's hands, and why they decided it was necessary to be restored and given life once more.

Then the main feature begins. Much of the footage is silent, with newly-recorded narration, taken from a surviving script/outline treatment that existed. The monotone delivery is necessarily stark and non-judgemental, allowing the viewer to comprehend what we are being shown. The restoration is fantastic. Razor-sharp for the most part, considering the time and conditions under which it was obtained and created. The near-HD presentation is astounding, which makes the horrors that unfold so deeply sickening to view. There will be times, when you will need to look away, because what you will see will be so truly harrowing. And so it should be! Trying to soften the nature of the footage, would do a huge disservice to the people featured in it.

Opening with footage from Belsen Camp, it's not long before we see the worst human suffering imaginable. Living beings, so emaciated and cruelly-treated, that their skin barely covers their skeletons. Pallid skin of young and old alike, feature and it is horrible to feel so powerless as a viewer to stop their suffering. Seeing them at their lowest, is extremely unsettling. Knowing what is about to happen to them, is a thousand times worse. Watching scene-after-unremitting-scene of degradation, is near-traumatising. Worse still when you see some of the injuries they suffer: from malnutrition, and lack of basic facilities like hot water to wash in, or clean clothes to cover themselves. One especially harrowing scene, features a man who's genital flesh has been eaten away by his own body, trying to keep him alive. In another, we see the remains of children's bodies, burnt in the crematoria.

Deliberately unsettling and never afraid to depict the very things we would all much prefer to deny existed, the film beautifully, but disturbingly portrays events that hopefully, the human race will never, ever repeat. After 75 minutes, the film ends - just at the point most viewers would wish it too, before it becomes prurient - and there is a necessary and much-desired Outro, in which staff from the BFI and IWM who worked on the film, talk about their reaction to seeing it for the first time, and the way it affected them, during the restoration work. Not only is it very informative, but it allows the viewer to "decompress", and hopefully not leave the cinema feeling too depressed.

If you can get to see this film, then please, please do so, as it's an excellent piece of cinema. Just be warned, it's extremely harrowing! Highly recommended!

ADDENDUM: Apologies for the lack of images accompanying this review. Blogger is refusing to play-ball, and display images correctly. Once the issue is fixed, images will be accompanying this review, as per usual.

I'll be back shortly, with another update.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Why Banning Something Isn't Always A Bad Thing!

Welcome Everyone,

Today I want to talk to you about a new film that's been recently banned, here in the UK, and why I don't have an issue with it being banned.

It was recently announced on   that James Cullen Bressack's film HATE CRIME had been banned by the BBFC. Now, for those who aren't aware of it, HATE CRIME is one of Bressack's latest horror films. According to his IMDB page  here  he's been a busy man, directing, producing and writing plenty of films, since his first work back in 2004. And he's still exceedingly young - 23 years of age.

The film follows a bunch of Neo-Nazi thugs, as they break into a Jewish family's house, and rape, torture and murder them. The film is of the "found footage" variety, and lasts a measly 71 minutes.

The BBFC banned the film, with the full statement reading:
HATE CRIME focuses on the terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family by the Neo Nazi thugs who invade their home. The physical and sexual abuse and violence are accompanied by constant strong verbal racist abuse. Little context is provided for the violence beyond an on screen statement at the end of the film that the two attackers who escaped were subsequently apprehended and that the one surviving family member was released from captivity. We have considered the attempt at the end to position the film as against hate-crime, but find it so unconvincing that it only makes matters worse.

The BBFC's Guidelines on violence state that: "Any depiction of sadistic or sexual violence which is likely to pose a harm risk will be subject to intervention through classification, cuts or even, as a last resort, refusal to classify. We may refuse to classify content which makes sexual or sadistic violence look appealing or acceptable [...] or invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities. We are also unlikely to classify content which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk."

It is the Board's carefully considered conclusion that the unremitting manner in which HATE CRIME focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines, would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion.

Of course, the Board will always seek to deal with such concerns by means of cuts or other modifications when this is a feasible option.  However, under the heading of 'Refusal to classify' our Guidelines state that "As a last resort, the BBFC may refuse to classify a work, in line with the objective of preventing non-trivial harm risks to potential viewers and, through their behaviour, to society. We may do so, for example, where a central concept of the work is unacceptable, such as a sustained focus on sexual or sadistic violence. Before refusing classification we will consider whether the problems could be adequately addressed through intervention such as cuts." The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the fact that unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.
Clearly, the BBFC have issues with the films amoral content. The certification was for a VOD (or Video-On-Demand) version of the film, to be viewable via TheHorrorShow.TV's site, rather than a physical release to UK cinemas or for home viewing on DVD/Blu-Ray. Bressack originally said:
I am honoured to know that my mind is officially too twisted for the UK. So it goes… I find it unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned. it just shows the power of what is implied and peoples imagination; and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.
Now, the problem I have, is that the BBFC - and this may surprise some of you - don't actually want to ban things! It does them no favours to do so. When they do, they receive a lot of criticism, not only from the film-maker themselves and/or the studio releasing their work, but also from anti-censorship campaigners.

Normally, I do become interested in something that has been banned, and have written many times about such works. It's usually a sign of something interesting and worth my time seeking out - usually via an import DVD/Blu-Ray. HATE CRIME is out in the USA, on DVD, and has been legally available there, since 15th October 2013, via Unearthed Films: a company who have released many other controversial, and/or films that would be banned within the UK, such as Nacho Cerda's AFTERMATH (1994) or the brutal and nihilistic PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE (2009, Andrey Iskanov).

HATE CRIMES (Image has been edited, to conform to various
global laws, in which Swastika imagery is illegal to show!)

Since HATE CRIMES release, it has barely raised a murmur online, showing at a few film festivals around the globe, often to extremely mixed reviews - mostly negative. Online reviewers have been similarly torn between rating it "excellent", "thought-provoking" and "harrowing", to "badly-made", "gimmicky" and "wretched"!

So why am I writing about this film? Well, first of all, I need to state that I have not seen this film. As such, what I am about to say, is liable to end-up with me being labelled a hypocrite, and a clueless idiot. But, that's fine with me. No one can ever claim to be a perfect individual, and I am certainly no angel. I say what I feel, and I write what I mean.

For James Cullen Bressack, having his film banned, wouldn't have been an issue for me. However, what has caused me problems, is that a few days AFTER the film was banned in the UK, and he said how proud he was to have been banned, (why?), he then released this piece of ultra-defensive P.R.:
As a Jewish man, and a victim of anti -Semitic hate, I made a horror film that depicts the very thing that haunts my dreams. As an artist I wanted to tell a story to remind us that we live in a dangerous world; a world where racial violence is on the rise. It saddens me to learn that censorship is still alive and well. As a critic and journalist, you should at least see the film you are criticizing and do your research to learn that the filmmaker is Jewish. However I have to admit that I do appreciate the press.
I'm calling bullshit on this! He's clearly upset that his film can't now be legally viewed by UK viewers, which means he can't make money from this title. But to try and glibly claim what he does in the afore-mentioned piece of P.R., is hilarious.

So, let me get this straight: his film is banned for (presumably) being extremely violent and potentially anti-Semitic (under English Law, at least), but at the same time, the film contains nothing controversial that would warrant a ban, in his view, and - because he is Jewish himself - that that means his work is wholly defensible? Is that really how you want to go about things, Mr Bressack?

This reminds me of the very same defence that Srdjan Spasojevich tried when A SERBIAN FILM came out a few years back. As you will note in my blog post  here  he said that the infamous "baby-rape" sequence was a metaphor on the rape and murder of the Serbian people, by their Government. At the time, I didn't buy it, and neither did many others. Even those who quite liked the film, and stood up for its entire artistic existence. To my mind, this is exactly what Bressack has done. After the film's notoriety has gained attention, and been criticised, he is now desperately trying to do some major damage-control, and defend the indefensible: to justify why his work should be allowed to be seen by over-18's here in the UK. Claiming he is Jewish, means that automatically gives him the right to make a potentially anti-Semitic film, doesn't wash with me. Likewise, nor does it excuse the content that the BBFC have flagged-up as being unsuitable for classification.

Clearly, the film must contain some extremely contentious material, otherwise the BBFC would never have banned it, and/or the option of cuts would have been offered to the director. As that didn't happen, we can only conclude that the film must contain material that is potentially grossly inflammatory. If the BBFC can find a way to edit A SERBIAN FILM for an 18 rating, and we all know how extreme that film is in its cut and uncut versions, then HATE CRIME must presumably be far worse.

HATE CRIME has been compared to the 1977 film FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE from director Robert A. Endelson. In that film, a bunch of redneck prisoners flee from their prison, and wall themselves up in a local Black Ministers home. There, they terrorise, degrade and torture the Ministers family.

If you've not seen that film, it's certainly a movie worthy of your time. The main difference between this and HATE CRIME however, is that in FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, the viewer is firmly put on the side of the victim, rather than the perpetrators. As such, at no time do you either sympathise with the aggressors, no matter how much venom and bile they spout about "niggers" and "coons"! Although the film was banned in the UK, back in 1983/84, and placed on the Video Nasties list, I suspect that if it were submitted today, that it would pass through uncut, with an 18 rating. Not because the film is especially violent, as it isn't, but purely for the racist language, which is extensive and potentially degrading. However, although the language is contextualised to a certain degree, it is still going to be seen as really inflammatory, and that is why I believe an 18 rating would be handed-out to it, rather than a more lenient 15 certificate.

HATE CRIME clearly doesn't side with the victims, and thus it can't use the same defence. According to some online reviews, there are scenes that feature the sexualised violence, from the eyes of the perpetrator, and you watch the scene unfold as if you were the aggressor, actively taking part in the torture. Much like a similar scene found in HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, when Henry and Otis rape and torture a family, in the infamous "home invasion" sequence. When that film came through the BBFC's doors, James Ferman the then chief censor, had real issues with this moment, and insisted on major cuts and alterations. (Full details of these cuts and alterations can be found at this 30-minute long video link  here  courtesy of Gavin Salkeld, which I should warn you all, is not suitable for under-18's, and isn't work-safe either!)

Now, stylistically, it may be seen as in interesting way to get under the skin of an audience member, just as happens in HENRY, but it will also - quite often - make the scene feel even more seditionary than you intended. And then, the power and impact of the scene, suddenly doubles or triples. That is why directors have to take great care when using this stylistic technique in films.

That said, such filmic techniques are nothing new. PEEPING TOM, the classic British chiller from 1960, had its killer use a camera on a tripod with a steel blade inserted into one of the tripod's legs, as a way to have an audience see the victim's suffering, to demonstrate that murder is often not quick, clean and painless. It too, was similarly controversial, and the film's notoriety permanently ended the career of its director, Michael Powell. So, this device is neither new or novel. And the recent upsurge in the "found footage" genre of horror films, stemming from films like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, have also rendered this once-innovative filmic device commonplace.

So, with the film now being banned here in the UK, what does this mean. Well, whilst many horror fans will now be eager to download or purchase this film, which is freely available from places like Amazon, I won't be one of them. I think the film is as crass and dumb as it appears to be! Just another excuse for a director with no talent, no creativity and no ability, to make some money by being infamous. Someone whom, once all the fanboys have stopped wetting themselves over this film's ban, will realise has produced a work with no purpose, point or relevance, other than being a grubby, repellent exploitation flick. In-and-of-itself, that's not a problem. But the problem the BBFC has, is that the justification for the extreme content, does not override the "entertainment" side of things. Namely, the film has been created to entertain first, rather than suggest or inform the audience that such on-screen-violence is contextual or has some moral fibre to it.

Ultimately, I know people will condemn me for my view - namely being a hypocrite for being okay with a film being banned, that I've not actually seen myself; and being a hypocrite for being okay with this film being banned, yet readily admitting to watching, owning and liking other, similar banned films (e.g. SNUFF 102, PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE, etc, etc), and that may all be true, but it's my viewpoint.

As I've got older, I've become less and less tolerant towards films that have no moral purpose whatsoever in them. I get fed-up with the horror genre as a whole being tarnished, by directors just coming-up with more and more excuses to show ever-more-extreme content, when there's no point for the violence in the first place, and no story. For every worthwhile work, that attempts to subvert the genre, there are a hundred others who just want to peddle ever-more brutal violence. I've not become desensitised to it. I'm just bored by it. There's only so many eye-gouging's, beheading's, blood-letting's, and amputations of all known bodily organs - both external and internal - I can stomach, before it all gets rather coma-inducing.

Don't get me wrong. I still like violence. I still like gore. There's nothing wrong with liking that stuff, or including it in your films, but for goodness sake, give me some kind of story, or point, if you want me to give you 60-120 minutes of my life, to viewing your work. Show me something innovative, rather than derivative. Give me a new take on a story or plot, not just a rehash of someone else's ideas. If, as a director, you think that showing excessive violence is the coolest thing possible, then clearly you are not as smart as you'd like to think you are.

And on that note, I will see you back here shortly.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Arrow Fanboys Are Having A Laugh

Hello again,

You have to love the hypocrisy that drips from the fingers and mouth of Arrow's fans. It's unintentionally hilarious at times.

As readers of my blog will probably know, Arrow released David Cronenberg's SHIVERS on UK Blu-Ray last year, and after announcing it was going to be a new, HD presentation of the uncut version, what was released was in fact anything but uncut.

When fans of the film took to the Web, to complain and understandably vent their spleen, Arrow passed the blame onto TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) who were the organisation behind the HD print. They blamed Cronenberg, and he stated that he had not seen the film in years, and that the new HD restoration looked amazing. What he didn't notice, was that the film was cut, in many scenes, to remove violence and gore.

As has happened before, Arrow said they would "investigate" the matter. This was back in October 2014. It's now March 2015, and Arrow have just made an "announcement" on their Facebook page. It reads...

We’ve receive a fair few queries about the progress of this. First up, we can only apologise that it is taking far longer than we originally anticipated. We were very much hoping the situation would be resolved by the New Year but sadly this was not the case. So, the good news is we will be running a replacement programme for this one so if you have purchased a copy of our release do keep hold of those proof of purchases! The bad news is, we don’t have an exact timeline for this and at present it does look like this will be a bit of a way off. Unfortunately we're in the hands of TIFF who have their own schedule and Shivers isn't a priority for them at present. We are doing all we can to apply pressure and try and speed things up but sadly there isn't too much we can do. We believe that they are scanning another element of equal quality to the restoration they initially performed so this is what we are waiting for. We could have cut in the SD elements we have - we have tested that and it looks fine - but knowing that higher quality work is underway, has made it very difficult to simply settle for SD inserts. If we'd know we'd all be waiting 5 months maybe we would have stuck with the SD option however we really want our Shivers release to be the best release possible and not simply a quick fix. As mentioned we are working hard to keep things moving and we really appreciate all of your patience and support whilst we try and reach a suitable solution. As soon as we have a concrete update on the situation we will widely publish this so do keep checking back!
This all sounds fairly decent, but as has been amply demonstrated by me, and others, they're still trying to pass the buck onto TIFF, and implying that it was their fault, rather than Arrow's.

Now, there are many comments added onto this Facebook post, but one that made me laugh out loud, was this one. I've removed their names, for privacy purposes. The censored swearing and spelling and grammar errors, are exactly how they appeared on Facebook...

ARROW FANBOY 1: Now this is customer service! Unlike 88 cut classics!

ARROW FANBOY 2: You mean 88 cu@t classics lol 88 cu@ts logic is "oh we screwed up a release" "Oh well let's just lie about it as we don't give a crap" great business there guys.

ARROW FANBOY 1: You put it better (name removed) haha!

I'm sorry, but if you're going to take the piss out of another label - 88 Films - who are a newcomer to the UK, and are doing some pretty good work, with some excellent and definitive Blu-Ray releases, then you might want to get your own house in order first. And, if you're going to take the piss, because 88 Films released a messed-up version of Full Moon Pictures TOURIST TRAP (which was the same faulty version that the USA got, from Full Moon Pictures, for their Blu-Ray), then do you really want me to repeat the list of all the films that Arrow have fucked-up over the years, and are a label who still continue to fuck things up, as the SHIVERS debacle continues to unfold?!

Pot. Kettle. Black. Anyone?!

Seriously, guys. If you want me to stop taking Arrow to task, for all of their gargantuan fuck-ups over the years, and in the same breath, you berate me for daring to keeping bringing these mistakes up, then you really ought to keep your own traps shut. Don't belittle another label, and then simultaneously try to claim another label that you support, is a paragon of fucking virtue. Otherwise people like me, will be on-hand to give you a gentle reminder, that things aren't as squeaky clean as you are claiming.

Yes, 88 Films have released the problematic TOURIST TRAP, and if you want to split-hairs, then this year's release of THE TOXIC AVENGER 3 - which was the cut, R-Rated version (as approved by director Lloyd Kaufman, rather than an inherent fault on the part of 88 Films) - could also be included as a mistake that should have been caught too. But, ultimately, that's two films, in less than two years of existance.

Arrow released triple that number of "mistakes" in their first couple of years, so be really careful about all the finger-pointing, or it might come back to bite you in the ass!