There was no column last week and for this I apologise. Sadly a column every week is not feasible because there will be times when there is simply nothing to talk about as far as what has been added goes. That was certainly true of last week and was nearly the case this week, so the below picks are the cumulative efforts of your streaming providers from the last two weeks.
The reason for the lack of updates is probably something to do with the kids being on their epic six week summer holidays. Once the providers have added the required cartoons and PG rated films then their job is done. The (assumed) good weather of August will do the rest keeping the kids outside and entertained.
Things are more likely to pick up again in September when the moppets are back in school and we can concentrate on entertaining mum and dad when the kids are tucked up in bed. For the time being though the picks of the best films added over the last two weeks are as follows:
Infestation (2009) – LOVEFiLM
Right off the bat let me say that Infestation is not a good film. The CG is poor and the concept is too grand for the straight to DVD budget. A low budget film where the world has been overtaken by giant insects is never going to live up to the scope of the premise. Having said that there is a fun playful atmosphere and the film feels like a celebration of giant bug films rather than a giant bug film to compare to the likes of Them, Mimic or even Eight Legged Freaks. Also has a great performance from genre veteran Ray Wise.
Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) – YouTube
The third Hellraiser film may not be as good as the previous two but is still far better than most of the horror films that were coming out in the early nineties. This one feels more like a comic book than the previous two and transplants the action to the USA as Pinhead is revived by a seedy nightclub owner and goes on a massive rampage with some new cenobites he creates. Subtle it isn’t, and the claustrophobic tension of the first two is gone in favour of something that feels more ambitious and epic. Between this and Candyman, 1992 was a good year for Clive Barker.
Seven (1995) – Blinkbox
David Fincher’s second film after Alien 3 hasn’t aged a day and remains one of the best films of the ‘90s. Looking back it’s astonishing that something this powerful got made back then with little studio interference. Around the time of its release, studios were trying desperately not to label things as ‘horror’ instead using the label ‘thriller’ but Seven is a horror film through and through. The clever script keeps you on the edge of your seat and, despite the high concept pitch, the film feels authentic in its portrayal of two detectives on the trail of a serial killer and isn’t afraid to show you the tedium of waiting for something to happen. This film was massively influential; you can still see traces of it today in almost anything that features a serial killer plot. Seven is a must see.
Corpse Bride (2005) – Blinkbox
When Corpse Bride came out there was a lot of excitement about it as it was a stop motion follow up from Tim Burton who had been involved with The Nightmare Before Christmas which was getting adopted like a badge of honour by teen goths everywhere. Corpse Bride didn’t quite live up to expectation, it’s not a bad film by any stretch but it’s just kind of lightweight and barely registers. The images and characters don’t imprint themselves into your brain the way Jack and Sally did. Later this year Tim Burton returns to this medium with Frankenweenie, hopefully that will be better than this.
The Mask (1994) – Blinkbox
Funny how times change, back in the early 90s The Mask was considered by many to be the pinnacle of comic based film entertainment and it’s not even that faithful to the anarchic Dark Horse comic on which it is based. If this was made now it would be absolutely faithful and probably have some extra grit thrown in its bulging cartoon eyes. This was Jim Carrey’s second big hit when he was on his roll following Ace Ventura. The good news is The Mask is still great, the cartoon character effects hold up and it’s a timely reminder of just how great Carrey was when he was on form and not being all serious and starting a pretentious website, the world misses you Jim.
The Shining (1980) – LOVEFiLM
I go back and forth on my opinions on this film. Each time I view it my opinion changes. First time I saw it I loved it, second time loved it, recent viewings I have found it to be a bit of a slog and decided the film is overrated. Kubrick creates a real air of menace and supernatural dread with his swooping camera shots and his framing of the corridors and wide open spaces of the Overlook Hotel but the film feels like it’s all about Jack Nicholson’s performance and when he finally cracks and turns up the crazy, it doesn’t feel like the film has earned it. Having said all this, I recently viewed the documentary Room 237 which has made me see the film in a whole new light and its nigh time for a re-watch.
Hostel (2006) – Netflix
Eli Roth is a massively divisive personality, he can talk a good game but he has never really delivered on his hype as the future of the horror genre. Roth seems too keen on frat boy humour and being friends with Quentin Tarantino which has done him few favours with internet pundits. The first Hostel film is probably his best work so far, once the frat boy crap in Europe is out of the way, the film becomes a pretty suspenseful and violent ride and the last twenty minutes are some of the most exciting in a horror flick from the last decade. Hostel was a big hit and was sadly labelled with the ‘torture porn’ label which it doesn’t really deserve as it’s far better than you think it will be.
Demolition Man (1993) – LOVEFiLM
This week’s celebration of the early ‘90’s continues with Sylvester Stallone’s own more successful take on the same year’s Last Action Hero. Demolition Man is all about John Spartan, a ‘90’s stock Silver Pictures cop who causes tons of carnage in his quest to get Wesley Snipes’ Simon Phoenix. On his last encounter Spartan ends up killing loads of innocent bystanders and he and Phoenix are sent to the Cryoprison. Un-frozen several years later as Phoenix has escaped, Spartan finds the world much changed with political correctness having gone mad to create a safe, dull world where everything that was good about life has been outlawed. This is where the comedy comes in, and boy is it funny. The film should have been a mess but somehow the action, satire and heart of the film all work together to create a film that is above all one hell of an entertaining two hours. Arguably Stallone’s finest film…