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

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

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

I last watched this back in 2015, and even though this is by far the worst of the Star Wars films I decided to watch it again because I want to watch episodes 2 and 3 again too.

My two previous reviews for this film gave it 7.5 (2008) and 4 (2015) respectively. This time around I am somewhere in the middle. It is still the worst of the Star Wars films, but it does have it’s moments, usually when no one is talking.

If Jar-Jar was either toned down, or completely removed, and the silly Trade Federation politics parts of the story were replaced with a plot about blowing things up, it could have been a whole lot better. Darth Maul needed to be in it more. Anakin said “Yippee!” too many times.

Yoda didn’t look as good as he did in episodes 5 and 6. Here is the original Yoda in Phantom Menace compared to the CGI version put in for the Blu-ray release…much better.

Here is a video taken back in the day, interviewing people before and after they saw the film, with only the guy at the end hating it.

Date watched: January 13th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2019: 2

The Big Lebowski

My final film for 2018 turned out to be an easy choice, an old favourite that I last watched back in 2015.

This film never gets tired, it is just so good on all levels. I only wish I could see this at a cinema.

I am sure though that you have seen this, so I don’t feel there is much more I need to say, you know what I mean.

Happy New Year. May 2019 be full of film, music, books, and good stuff.

Date watched: December 31st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 92

Starship Troopers

I had been wanting to re-watch this film for quite some time, so I finally did last night. It is a hoot of a film.

Like Robocop and Total Recall before it, Paul Verhoeven made a completely over-the-top action film with plenty of throw-away violence and gore and satire, while at the same time commenting on fascism, patriotism, and the military machine. I thought the cast did a great job, totally getting into the spirit of the story. They were all overacting either by design or because they are not A-grade actors…either way it worked.

The special effects too were very impressive for a twenty-one year old film. The bugs looked great, especially the “brain bug” which back then must have been quite a bit of work.

The “Brain Bug”, captured

There were a few actors who would have been relatively unknown at the time, such as Seth Gilliam (The Walking Dead), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), as well as the more familiar Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, and Jake Busey.

This did not get good reviews when it came out, reviewers said it was too violent, had wooden acting, and just didn’t seem to get it is a satirical comedy/action/horror film. Each to his own.

An enjoyable film, well worth visiting again some day.

This website has a few interesting facts about the film.

Date watched: December 24th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2018: 86

Barton Fink

After Miller’s Crossing I just had to watch another Coen Brothers film, so I chose this one, a film I last saw probably over 20 years ago.

Re-imagined poster

The story, if you have forgotten, is about a successful and intense Broadway writer who reluctantly accepts an offer from a Hollywood studio to write for movies. So, he goes to Hollywood and for his first picture is asked to write a wrestling story, something far below his talents. He tries to give it a go, but knowing nothing about wrestling flicks he gets nowhere.

Barton Fink

He stays at a dodgy hotel which has very gooey wallpaper that peels off in the heat, and a neighbour (John Goodman) who talks a lot, but ends up being the only friend Barton has. Also in the story is a famous writer who gets extremely drunk when he has writer’s block, which is where we find him in the film. His assistant/lover tries to help Barton write the wrestling movie, and that is where the story turns very bad for Barton.

The rest of the story is a murder cover-up and serial killer story, that by the end is also quite surreal and confusing.

Reading about this film online reveals that the story is supposedly an allegory for the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany, which is the time period that this film was set in. Film forums have all kinds of theories about what the film is about, and one film review even hypothesised that Charlie (John Goodman) was in fact Barton’s alter ego. I just took most of it at face value…over-thinking does nothing more than killing precious brain cells.

The Coens actually wrote this film while they were taking a break from making Miller’s Crossing because they were having problems with it. This film was written in three weeks with the main role specifically written for John Turturro. The Wikipedia page on this is long and interesting. A lot of thought went into the writing and production of the film, and there were influences galore.

Everything in this was superb, as every Coen Brothers film is. John Turturro and John Goodman were perfect, as were the rest of the cast which included a few Miller’s Crossing actors. I was just thinking what it would have been like if The Cruiser played Barton instead…best not to.

But, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Miller’s Crossing, I can’t quite pinpoint why. Maybe it was the effort of trying to figure out the deeper meanings of the story. Barton stared at a painting on the wall of his hotel wall of a woman sitting on a beach several times, a scene that would play out in real life at the end of the film…brain hurts.

Still, this is superbness.

Date watched: December 8th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 81

Miller’s Crossing

After the recent low-grade film viewings I decided I needed to see a quality film again, so I chose this Coen brothers masterpiece. I have seen this before, but this is the first post for this film on MBMS, so I must have last watched this a long time ago. Still, I remembered a lot of it.

There is not much to say about this one really, except that it is a perfect gangster film, not even Scorcese could do any better. The casting, cinematography, sets, writing, and of course directing were all top-notch. There is no use writing more, no need to. So to fill in some space, here are some images…

Gabriel Byrne as “Tommy”.

Albert Finney as “Leo”.

Albert Finney (on right) as a maid.

John Turturro as “Bernie Bernbaum”.

Sam Raimi in a cameo.

J.E. Freeman and Marcia Gay Harden

It is amazing that this film is now 28 years old, it hasn’t aged a day. I would love to see it at the theatre.

And the Coen Brothers are now in the MBMS Page of Fame.

Date watched: December 1st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 80