Look at the list below; do you see anything from Netflix this week? No. After a dynamite last month or so, Netflix have suddenly dried up their supply pipe again with not even one title this week. I’m not just talking genre titles either because they literally haven’t added any dramas, thrillers or comedies. They need to step up because when people ask me now, I have to recommend LOVEFiLM for the time being, but I so want Netflix to get going because I love the format and ease of use.
LOVEFiLM and Blinkbox and even freaking YouTube win the last week of July because although the titles added may not be new, they are all varied enough so that there is much to watch on whichever streaming service you prefer to use. Still no PS3 Blinkbox app that I am aware of though.
Return to Oz (1985) – LOVEFiLM
For many this was the childhood cinema going experience that scarred them for life. Walter Murch’s underrated mid '80s sequel is an altogether darker affair which replaces the musical Technicolor fun of the original with a sinister sense of menace and a menagerie of bizarre creatures and characters. Oz is ruined when Dorothy returns and she sets out on a quest to revive the land she loves, it’s telling that this film begins with her in a psych hospital about to receive shock therapy. The film stands up surprisingly well considering how dated much of the special effects techniques are, this was a time when almost everything was done practically and an example of a lost art. It will be interesting to see how Sam Raimi’s film compares to this one.
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) – LOVEFiLM
I’ve always been fascinated by the claim that this was based on a true story, it’s what really captured my imagination when I saw it on TV as a kid. The experiment on real life was something to do with invisibility but nobody knows what really went on. Two Navy men in this film in 1943 are catapulted to the future of 1984 after the invisibility experiment seems to work. The two of them try and find their way back and at the same time prevent an apocalypse with a black hole. It’s silly but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) – Blinkbox
Apart from Batman: Under the Red Hood, this is probably the best DC animated straight to DVD movie they have produced so far. Based on Darwyn Cooke’s limited DC comics series the story is set in the 1950’s and follows Hal Jordan as he becomes Green Lantern as well as Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Batman as they all find their paths crossing and the Justice League is formed. There is no darkness here and it’s a refreshingly un-gritty adaptation of a great story and has a real retro vibe even in the animation. Great stuff.
Battle Royale (2000) – Blinkbox
A film that nobody would release in the United States for over ten years because of fears of copycat violence is now available to stream for free over the internet. Kinji Fukasaku’s film may not be as in depth as the novel it’s based on, but for sheer blackly funny, satirical, visceral thrills it works in spades. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games then this is like its demented older brother with all the violence that film wasn’t allowed to show. I expected this to be an exercise in low budget misery when I first heard about it but it’s like a proper film with character development and stylish directing and everything. This is one of the best films of this century thus far so you simply must see it.
Waxwork 2: Lost in Time (1992) – Blinkbox
Funny thing is I have seen this film but still never seen the original Waxwork film that preceded it. From what I remember of this film when viewing it with a whole bunch of friends during the school holidays in 1992, this is an absolute riot from start to finish. The most fun element of this thing is the time travel plot which finds the hero and heroine launched back in time and into scenes which reference movies like The Haunting and Bride of Frankenstein. It’s like a horror based Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It also features one of Bruce Campbell’s most fun acting roles outside of the ones we all know. Looking forward to checking this out again.
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988) – YouTube
If you liked the first Hellraiser film and like much of Clive Barker’s work in general then there is much to like here. It doesn’t have the recognisable, suburbs set horror feel of the first film and instead expands the mythology a bit into a mental home, some more of the cenobite’s background and some returning characters from the first film. However compared to Hellraiser 4 onwards this is a masterpiece so if you like the franchise this is probably a high point for you. It’s interesting that even in these days of torture porn and real life violence on the internet, the violence in this film still looks painful.
Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991) – YouTube
I could possibly get hate mail for this, but I kind of enjoy Highlander 2 as a great bad movie. I know it's rubbish and compared to the original it’s a crime but I have fun watching it. Where they went wrong was introducing the concept of the planet Zoosk or something where the immortals come from and essentially ruining all the mythology and tension of the first film but also giving them an excuse to bring back Sean Connery as the worst Spaniard in film history. Never mind though because the production design and violence are stylish and Michael Ironside is a great villain.
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – LOVEFiLM
Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ seminal novel about violence and control was unavailable for so long in the UK that it got this kind of mythical status it could never live up to. Taken on its own merits the film is a brilliant morality tale about disaffected youth and the government’s ever futile attempts to control and maintain what can’t be contained. A career best performance by Malcolm MacDowell and it has all the style and detail you would expect from a Kubrick film. Arguably Kubrick’s most influential film after 2001 and an indispensable part of any film buff’s education.