Braindead

As mentioned in my previous post, I found this (on YouTube) and watched it last night.

This film upped Bad Taste in all ways. The production was much better due to a NZ$3 million budget (Bad Taste was made for $25,000), the use of real actors, and there was a lot more splatter. In fact this must rank as the most splatter-goriest film of all time, especially the last thirty minutes of the film which is basically just blood, entrails, and brains flying everywhere. It was also funnier, which it really needed to be due to the amount of extreme gore happening. Some scenes were a bit absurd, such as when the hero of the story takes the zombie baby to the park in a pram, and proceeds to attempt to subdue it when it goes berzerb… Peter Jackson’s favourite part of the film apparently.

The actors and actresses in this are a who’s-who of 1990’s New Zealand television and film. Familiar names such as Timothy Balme, Elizabeth Moody (she was brilliant in this), Ian Watkin, Davina Whitehouse, Bill Ralston, and Belinda Todd. Peter Jackson also had a minor role. They were all brilliant and they were all subject to a huge amount of fake blood and gore.

It was good to see 1990’s Wellington made to look like 1950’s Wellington. There was one scene where I saw the street where my brother lives, and the bus stop near his place where earlier this year I waited. This link shows the shop used in the film, and across the road is the bus-stop, although it has been renewed since then. In the film a tram was visible on the street which is impossible as the streets are very steep in this area.

The special effects, especially the puppets, were very impressive. This article is a good read about how the film was made.

Braindead is banned in countries such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore. In Germany it is heavily cut, and the R-rated version in the U.S.A. is also cut, although the unrated version is completely original. Peter Jackson announced plans last year to restore this and Bad Taste in 4K, along with Meet the Feebles.

Here is a good story of someone who played the zombie “Mum” in the film.

This actually bombed in the day, I guess it was just too gory for most people.

I absolutely enjoyed this, it was just so over-the-top gory and yet funny at the same time. I would place it slightly above the Evil Dead films, Evil Dead 2 in particular, as the most funniest horror films in existence.

Recommended for anyone who can stomach a large amount of splatter and laugh at the same time.

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 10/10
Body count: unknown
Film count 2019: 18

Bad Taste

I felt like returning to this Peter Jackson classic horror film after many years since my last viewing. In fact I have no review of it on this blog, so it was quite some time ago that I last saw it.

Even though it has been a long time, I remembered most of the film. Scenes such as Derek falling down the cliff, Frank having to eat from a bowl of puke (and enjoying it), various chainsaw scenes, and the exploding sheep.

Despite being a film made on a budget by a bunch of friends in weekends, and being Peter’s first proper film, it was very well made. Peter’s film techniques and comedy timing were impressive, as well as the special effects and makeup which Peter mostly did himself. Peter also had a couple of roles in the film, including Derek who was the funniest character in the story.

I remember going to see this at a theatre not long after it was released, and my cousin who was with me had to leave a few minutes after it started, he couldn’t handle the gore (I think it was the scene where the alien had the top of his head blown off, and the brains slopping out that did it). I though thoroughly enjoyed it back then, and still do.

Braindead, Peter’s next film, was probably better overall, but as I cannot find that film anywhere I cannot compare the two films. But Bad Taste is a fun film and I would say is one of Peter Jackson’s best.

Addendum: After a quick search I found Braindead… watching it tonight!

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 17

The Pianist

This is based on the true story of a Polish=Jew who survived the German occupation in World War Two, directed by Roman Polanski. And it is most excellent. It was a French, German, Polish, and British co-production.

Adrien Brody plays Wladyslaw Szpilman, a gifted piano player who along with his parents, sisters and brothers tries to survive the German occupation after Poland is invaded. Things only get worse of course.

The film portrays the hardship and horror of what the Jews had to go through, some of it quite shocking, and no doubt based on actual accounts of what went on. I didn’t know that a part of Warsaw was used to house all of the Jews in the city temporarily, and was walled off from the rest of the city, like the Berlin Wall.

The acting was absolutely superb from all, as was the direction and the sets. Some of the shots of bombed-out streets towards the end of the film could not have possibly been real, so the CG was most excellent too.

It is a long film at 150 minutes, but it does not feel like it at all.

Not an uplifting film, and not easy to watch at times, but it’s three Academy Awards (out of seven nominations) proves that this is a must-watch.

Date watched: June 1st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2019: 16

Hurlyburly

This is a 1998 drama starring Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey based on a 1984 play, and it shows because there is a lot of talking.

It tells the story of three Hollywood players who like to do the drugs and other things we all know Hollywood types like to do. Sean’s character is especially wigged-out on drugs and gets really paranoid and stressed out.

Most of the film takes place in one house in the hills somewhere, so there is not a whole lot going on, just a lot of rambling about things that don’t really make for good film watching.

Anna Paquin turns up as a young drifter who would do anything for a place to stay, she was a refreshing change from all of the drama going on about her, but alas did not have much screen time.

The performances were good by all, and Sean was trying really hard to get an Oscar, but he did not succeed. Chazz Palminteri was excellent, with both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright doing their best with what they had too.

This isn’t terrible, but it could have been a lot better.

Date watched: May 11th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2019: 15

The American Friend

The last film in my Golden Week of film watching was this 1977 Wim Wenders neo-noir starring Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz.

And it was a good film to end off a week of good film watching.

It told the story of a man who was diagnosed with leukemia and was contacted by a French mafia guy and asked to bump off a rival gang member, and promised big bucks to help support his family when he died. Dennis Hopper’s character was a fake art seller who was involved in organising the hit, but he ended up becoming good friends with Bruno.

There was not a whole lot of action, the story concentrated more on the friendship between Dennis and Bruno, and did it very well. Both actors were most excellent in their parts.

It was fascinating to see late 1970’s Europe, especially the Paris underground (where a hit took place), which was immaculate. Hamburg though looked like a rather depressing place back then.

Wim casted three other directors in the gangster roles.

I did find it a tad long, but overall this was an excellent film to end my week of films.

Date watched: May 5th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2019: 14

Fish Tank

My roll of excellent films continues with this 2009 BBC drama film, written and directed by Andrea Arnold.

As you can see on the poster above, there are a lot of stars which signifies that this is indeed a very good film.

It tells the story of Mia, a rather angry 15 year old who is not going to school and gets into all sorts of trouble. She is a loner and picks fights with the neighbourhood girls, and like her mother drinks a lot. But she is a talented hip-hop dancer, and wants to become a dancer like those she sees in hip-hop videos. She lives with her mother and younger sister, and in the film the mother becomes involved with Michael Fassbender, which is where all of the drama begins.

This is a very raw film, no dramatic music or over-acted dramatics, just a very real look at problems in an East London council estate (depressing-looking places). The acting by all is superb. The girl playing Mia’s younger sister was especially good, she must have been 9 or 10 at the time.

From Wikipedia about the actress who played Mia:

Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, had no prior acting experience. She was cast for the film after one of Arnold’s casting assistants saw her arguing with her boyfriend in Tilbury Town.

And…

In early 2014, she was reportedly under consideration for a role in the Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens after taking a hiatus from acting to concentrate on her family. However, she did not appear in the film.

She has just finished a role in EastEnders.

Excellent stuff.

Date watched: May 4th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2019: 13

Children of Men

I watched this back in 2008 and recently decided I had to see this excellent film again.

As I wrote in my original post for this it is a brilliant film. It is extremely well made, acted, and told. The story is pretty depressing stuff on the whole, but it ends with hope for humankind.

Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine were all bonkers good, as were the rest of the cast. The cinematography was stunning, especially the long shots which this film is well known for. The dark post-apocalyptic style of the film looked very good, they certainly went to a lot of trouble to make it look that way.

Some of it seemed a bit forced, especially the extras who were trying just a bit too hard to look desperate and downtrodden. No biggie though.

I will definitely watch this again in another 11 years time, and blog about it again of course. Gee, I wonder what Tommo will be starring in then? He will be 67 in 2030.

Date watched: May 3rd
Score: 9/10
Film count 2019: 12