Sex, Leins & Videotape #8: Paignton’s resident film critic Tom Leins gets brutal with next week’s DVD releases.
Former punk musician Richard Jobson achieved widespread critical acclaim for his debut movie Sixteen Years of Alcohol, and he probes Scotland’s grubby underbelly once more with the sinister New Town Killers (High Fliers). Sean Kelly is an impoverished Scottish teenager who finds himself hired by a pair of sociopath businessmen who want him to participate in a vicious game of hide ‘n’ seek.
With his sister crippled by debts and a career as a rent boy beckoning, Sean accepts their lucrative offer, only to find himself on the receiving end of all manner of urban nastiness. Like Van Damme’s Hard Target relocated from sweltering New Orleans to working class Edinburgh, New Town Killers is an engaging but undeniably awkward thriller. Hamstrung by its clumsy narrative and over-earnest script, New Town Killers relies on a pair of charismatic performances from glowering hunter Dougray Scott and likeable prey James Anthony Pearson to keep things on track. Not a classic, but a brutally effective response to the ‘Credit Crunch’!
Danny Dyer has dipped his toes in comedy/horror waters before with the highly enjoyable Severance, and Doghouse (Sony) sees him try to repeat the trick. In a misjudged bid to cheer up heartbroken divorcee Vince (Stephen Graham), Neil (Dyer) and Mikey (Noel Clarke) organise a weekend away in the country. Little do they realise, the sleepy rural village of Moodley has been subjected to a bizarre military experiment which has turned the entire female population into flesh-hungry zombies! What follows is a blood-splattered quest for survival, and our intrepid posse of fun-seekers have to dig deep to come out on top in this warped battle of the sexes. The sloppy script won’t win any awards, but the gore-streaked laddishness is sporadically entertaining. If nothing else, Doghouse’s single-minded attempt at suckering in its desired demographic is undeniably impressive. If you like girls, gore and geezers then Doghouse is the perfect movie for you.
Quentin Tarantino has dabbled in production numerous times over the years, and the latest movie to benefit from his cash-flow is Hell Ride (Warner Home Video) , a dubious action thriller about two warring biker gangs. Written, directed and starring Tarantino’s buddy Larry Bishop, Hell Ride is a stylish tribute to both Tarantino’s back catalogue and the biker B-movies that Bishop cut his teeth on back in the 60s. Unfortunately, what should be a gratuitous B-movie bloodbath is ruined by the illogical plotting and lousy try-hard dialogue. The cast is great, full of Tarantino cronies like Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper and David Carradine, but they rarely have anything interesting to say or do. With a dust-streaked Mariachi soundtrack, multiple nicknames and a variety of blood-soaked torture scenes, the slavish debt to Tarantino’s oeuvre is plain to see, but Bishop lacks the chops to gel it together into a cohesive whole. Although there are a handful of neat moments, this is seriously sloppy filmmaking, and the cast are evidently having far more fun than the audience.
Few Hollywood stars have fallen from grace quite as hard as Billy Zane, who is arguably the only actor whose career actually sunk with Titanic! Zane washed up on straight-to-DVD no-man’s-land and his latest offering is Surviving Evil (Kaleidoscope) , an exotic horror flick about a jaded TV presenter who becomes embroiled in a blood-soaked battle against a tribe of Filipino shape-shifters! Zane stars as Seb Beazley, a bored Bear Grylls-style survival expert who ventures to the island of Mayaman to film a jungle survival special.
One by one his bickering crew are targeted by a vicious crew of thirsty blood-suckers, and Seb’s survival skills are tested to the limits. Considering his CV is littered with crap ITV dramas like Heartbeat and Emmerdale, director Terence Daw unleashes some enjoyably grisly set-pieces throughout and helps to keep the energy up. Although it feels lazily recycled from the outset, Surviving Evil pushes the right buttons and arguably exceeds expectations. Zane is especially convincing as the bored star dismissive of his surroundings, and it is hard not to draw a parallel with real life! All in all: better than expected.
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