Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Squirm DVD Review

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Sorry for the spoiler, but this is the best bit from Squirm, courtesy of Rick Baker.

My review of 70’s creature feature Squirm appears over at Flickering Myth and below…

Squirm, a 70’s ‘revenge of nature’ flick, is as its straight to the point title implies, not a film to be taken overly seriously. More than anything else it is a bloody good laugh. Although there are a few social and political side swipes, this is a creature feature for the Saturday Night B-Movie crowd.

Concerning just what happens to a consignment of worms after the worst storm in years sends electricity pylons crashing to the ground; Squirm clearly sets its sights on classic animal menace suspense thrillers such as The Birds. In reality, it’s more Frogs than The Birds. Certainly no Hitchcock, then, but more a decidedly flawed charmer.

The human story away from the turbo charged wormers, isn’t much to write home about. Aside from the almost impenetrable Southern accents and dodgy small-town gender politics, the film is all about the wrigglers.

Most of the cast put in surprisingly reasonable performances when needed, with Scardino’s educated city boy particularly good as he comes to the realisation that all is not well in the town. This is true of both the worm attacks and the corrupt and imbecilic local law enforcement, which chooses to ignore what happens directly under its nose.

Special mention must go to the make-up wizard Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in LondonMen in Black etc) whose inspired technical handling of the most terrifying worm mauling is the film’s definitive high point. Alternately sickening and transfixing, the man knows how to handle the true horrific face of worm mis-management…

Essentially, Liebermann displays a fine talent for getting the most out of a fairly lean idea. It’s all tongue in cheek – or worm in cheek – come to that, and it’s not going to change anyone’s life… But hey, it’s a film about electro-powered worms – what’s not to like?

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The Last American Virgin

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My review of the weird 80s sex comedy/social issue flick The Last American Virgin is over at Flickering Myth now…

The Shining – novel or film, film or novel ??

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…I recently finished reading Stephen King’s The Shining.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it opened up new corridors of The Overlook Hotel that I had previously not been down. Therefore, the answer to the above to my mind is ‘both’.

Might seem like a cop out and if under severe pressure (ie, a Grady or Jack type after me with an axe p’haps) I would have to say that Kubrick’s vision is ultimately more successful, removing any underlying sympathies for Torrace snr by having him not specifically possessed by an external demon force with a dying ember of humanity somewhere (which manages to instruct his son to get the hell out of there and leave him). On the other hand Kubrick  turned Wendy into a simpering wreck (allegedly traumatising Shelley Duvall into the bargain)  and mercilessly killed off old Dick Halloran. Take a bit here take a bit there…I s’pose.

Some people can get pretty weird about The Shining – see the alternately transfixing/vaguely repellent documentary Room 237 for evidence of this fact – but to my mind, it’s not a simple case of one versus the other. They both have something of ‘the shine’.

ps Can’t say I’ve seen the 1997 miniseries based on King’s novel. Judging by this trailer I doubt I’m missing out on much…

RED 2 – out now.

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My review of turgid RED 2 is over at ExBerliner and also appears below…

The sequel to 2010’s surprise success once again features a heavy-hitting cast of ‘older’ stars wisecracking, blowing things up and generally having a lot of fun. But while the first movie had a naïve grace to its endeavours, this release feels far more forced.

The grimaces from Willis seem to have more than a hint of reality behind them, as if he feels he really is too old for this. The new additions of Hopkins and Zeta-Jones also detract rather than add; the Welshman delivers an uncomfortable – and not very amusing – performance of nervous tics and faraway stares, while CZJ manages to portray a vampish Russian spy in turgid and instantly forgettable fashion.

Mirren and Parker occasionally brighten things up with well-delivered acerbic observations, but overall this is a film of jarring and poorly constructed parts. A truly astonishing product placement of a well-known pizza firm is one of the more obvious clues that this sequel, even more than most, was all about the money.

That being said, there is some small change in Malkovich’s acid burnout secret agent philosophising on conspiracy theories while, yes, you guessed it, blowing even more things up.

RED 2 | Directed by Dean Parisot (USA 2013) with Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Originally published in ExBerliner Issue #119, September 2013. 

The Best Free Android Apps for Writers

Got an Android smartphone? Aspirations to be a writer or a current freelancer?
My article on The Best Free Android Apps for Writers is over at Twago…

Gimme the Loot

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My review of Adam Leon’s warm and funny tour around New York city is over at Flickering Myth now…