Wednesday 29 August 2012

ELEVATOR - Raising the bar for rip-offs

In the immortal words of Kylie Minogue, better the devil you know, and in what can only be described as a do-over of M. Night Shyamalan's Devil but with added terrorism, we now have the simplistically titled Elevator. Lifting* heavily from Devil's cover art but without the reverse crucifix and with added dodgy photoshopping (look, they're on floor 13! The deadliest of all high rise building levels!), Elevator clearly wants to look like Devil as much as possible, going so far as to have a trailer that's almost a shot for shot remake of Devil's.

So, there's the old lady, the annoying nervy guy and plenty of other stock characters to keep you guessing which one the terrorist is. Oh, and if the chubby guy with the little goatee looks familiar, you probably know him better as this guy...

Devin Ratray, always holding a place in our hearts and minds as Buzz McCallister from the first two Home Alone movies (the only two that count if we're being honest), appears in this film as the one of trapees. This is the point where we'd usually make a sarcastic comment about how they've been relegated to starring in straight to DVD rip-offs of other films, but if you want to compare Ratray's career to Macaulay Culkin's... well, at least Ratray is still making movies.

If you've already seen Devil, curiosity over Devin Ratray's role must be the only real reason to watch Elevator, so I'm going to recommend that they just take that next step and change the title to something like this...

*Yes, that was meant to be a pun.

Rather helpfully, I've gone and fixed the UK poster for A Night in the Woods


There we go, much better.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Piranha?

So you've gone to all the trouble to give your sequel to a marginally well received exploitation remake/sequel a snappy title that people will instantly understand and perhaps raise a wry smile to; but what do you do when said film gets released on home video format?

Okay, so now we've got Piranha 3DD 3D on Blu-ray and Piranha DD on DVD. That's not confusing in the slightest, is it? Still, I doubt the target audience of hormonal teenage boys will be paying too much attention to the title anyway.

Piranha 'whatever it wants to be called' is released on 3rd September and can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.


Nowadays it's nigh on impossible for any actress to play a strong, career minded woman without it looking like a parody of Sarah Palin, but this smart new trailer for Butter plays on that preconception, starting off with the Stars and Stripes awaving before wading into the strange world of competitive butter carving. Like all good satires, there's something slightly nauseating about the whole thing.

The influence on Jennifer Garner's character is clear, and although Olivia Wilde may look like she's regressed back to her days in The O.C., I'm all for any character who boasts she gets pregnant "like, once a month". The trailer also has a blink and you'll miss it appearance from Alicia Silverstone, her one line of dialogue proving that time can be cruel; her stardom melting away like so much warm butter...

Anyway, with just the right amount of Drop Dead Gorgeous-style satirical comment on those weird suburban American things we don't get, and a great cast that also features Modern Family's Ty Burrell and Hugh Jackman in an extended cameo, if I was hunting for a poster quote I'd say it looks "butterly brilliant" and then feel quite cheap about the whole thing.

Butter hits US screens in October and should hopefully arrive in the UK soon after.

Monday 27 August 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

In a week that's got a selection of straight to DVD crap and some strange looking horror sequels, it's a TV boxset that provides the only real highlight.

Friday 24 August 2012


And so, Eddie Murphy's latest 'comedy' arrives straight to DVD, and with it, poor word of mouth and extremely low expectations. When a loudmouth finds out he only has 1000 words left to say before he dies, he starts to choose who he speaks to very carefully.

Thursday 23 August 2012


Starring Noomi Rapace, this Swedish horror is out now on DVD. When Anna is placed into protective housing to keep her son away from his violent father, Anna buys a Babycall radio system to listen in on her son sleeping in the other room; but she she starts to hear horrific screams coming through the speaker, and they're not coming from her son.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Ghostbusters in the Machine

A potentially dangerous thing to exist that could theoretically make Dan Aykroyd sit up and think about how seemingly out of date and outmoded things can still have value in the modern age (get the hint Dan, leave Ghostbusters 3 alone), we now have the theme from Ghostbusters rendered by a surprisingly melodic floppy disc drive orchestra.

The work of the catchily named YouTube user MrSolidSnake745 who previously brought us Daft Punk's Derezzed in similar fashion, it's as if the soul of Ray Parker Jr has been sucked up by some sort of audio focused Demon Seed computer, except for the fact that a) that's impossible and b) Ray Parker Jr's not dead yet.

This is a thing and I am officially happy about it.

Monday 20 August 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

With big boats, deadly dolls and one musical Marley, this week's selection of DVDs and Blu-rays offers us a wide range of titles that cover a lot of bases.

Friday 17 August 2012

The Wedding Video

From the director of Calendar Girls, out in cinemas today is the Rufus Hound/Robert Webb starring The Wedding Video, with Rufus' overly enthusiastic best man character acting as a wannabe documentarian and filming the whole event for our viewing pleasure in classically farcical form.

Alternatively, you could just stay at home and rewatch this clip from an old episode of Men Behaving Badly which had the same basic idea fifteen years ago.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Braver than Brave? It's a pretty bold move if you want my opinion.

Whilst browsing the selection of new DVDs at my local retail establishment, I couldn't help but notice a rather familiar looking DVD on the shelf.

Hmmm. Maybe it's just me, but for some strange reason I thought Braver bore a slight resemblance to the new Disney/Pixar film Brave. I'm not quite sure where I got that idea from, but maybe it was the font, the red hair, the rocks, the title...

Using all of the journalistic resources I had at my disposal (ahem, Google), I did a little bit of digging and have uncovered what I'm choosing to call THE TRUTH. Drumroll please...

Directed by Tim Tyler, Braver was known as A Fairytale Christmas on its original straight to DVD release in 2005. Rather than featuring a redhead as the lead character, they've opted for a more traditional blonde princess, along with a cast of cute critters to keep her company on her adventures. Not shying away from the Disney influence, the lead character of A Fairytale Christmas, Princess Angela, enjoys a little sing song every now and then, including this ditty about the joys of Christmas.

Of course, this is not the first film to try and cash in on a big Disney release, to the point where it's becoming commonplace to see the warning NOT DISNEY attached to a number of family films for sale on Amazon. But in the case of A Fairytale Christmas, the distributors have gone impressively out of their way to re-package the existing film into something that is designed to appeal to very young children and/or grandparents with extremely poor eyesight.

A cheap little distraction that only lasts for 45 minutes, I'm not going to badmouth A Fairytale Christmas; not because it looks good, but because I doubt the filmmakers had much of a say in what has happened to it now. I'm honestly surprised that this practice has been allowed to go on for so long, because if there's someone I would not want to get on the wrong side of, it's the legal team of a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate like The Walt Disney Company.

But then, I suppose it depends on how you judge what bravery is.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

NEW FUN GAME! Matching up the cast of Battleship's names with the actors underneath.

One out of four is pretty bad. I wonder if it works any better on the Blu-ray cover...


Battleship is out on DVD and Blu-ray on August 20th and can be pre-ordered here.

Monday 13 August 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

Stuck in a post-Olympics lull, there's very few releases of note this week, apart from a slice of Nordic Noir and Sean Penn finding his inner Robert Smith.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy: The Highs and Lows of a Promotional Campaign

I doubt there's a person in the civilised world who doesn't instantly recognise the poster for Danny Boyle's 1996 heroin addiction drama, Trainspotting. With its stylish 'line-up' framing and bright orange against black and white colour scheme, it's a poster that has adorned many a bedroom wall in the last 16 years, is a lasting icon of Cool Britannia and easily one of the best quad posters of all time.

The same level of brilliance cannot be said for Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, a film that saw a brief theatrical run earlier this year and was most notable for trying to use author Irvine Welsh as its primary selling point, sticking his name in the title and even going as far as using a positive quote from him on the film's poster. That's a quote from the original writer being used to promote a film, because it's not like he would be biased in any way, would he?

To be fair, the theatrical artwork for Ecstasy is quite stylish (with the cast lining up on a flattened down pill packet), and if the film had managed to tap into a generation's consciousness in the same way Trainspotting did, it wouldn't be a bad poster to see hanging on your wall. Sure, it clearly comes from the same design aesthetic (it's by Mark Blamire, the same designer as Trainspotting's poster), but at the very least it looks nice and could be forgiven for offering subtle nods to Trainspotting's artwork.

In fact, Blamire ended up re-designing the film's poster campaign after seeing the earlier, pre-release efforts be little more than Trainspotting rip-offs. As he revealed to Creative Review, he got in touch with the director and producer and they invited him on board to give the film a distinct look, but then the film underperformed at the box office, so for the film's DVD release the marketing team had a bit of a rethink, removing the cool pill packet idea and doing away with any pretense that this film distributors would like you, the dim-witted and the partially-sighted to think this is Trainspotting 2.

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy arrives on DVD on August 20th, and would look ridiculous lined up to Trainspotting in your collection.

Saturday 11 August 2012


The winner of the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary, Undefeated charts a season for the underperforming high school team, the Manassas Tigers, and their coach, eager to guide them to victory and leave a lasting legacy.

Friday 10 August 2012

TED review

From the creator of Family Guy comes Ted, the story of one man and his vulgar, womanising teddy bear.

Thursday 9 August 2012


Continuing Arrow Video's quest to re-release every cult classic from the 80s, Troma's vigilante exploitation film Surf Nazis Must Die is out now on DVD.

Wednesday 8 August 2012


Following up his success with House of the Devil, writer/director/editor Ti West's latest horror is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Liberal Arts Trailer

Following his debut as writer, director slash actor with Happythankyoumoreplease, Josh Radnor, the sometime Ted Mosby, is back with a new film but the same director's beard. When Jesse, a teacher in New York, gets invited back to Ohio to visit his old professor (Richard Jenkins), he meets and falls for a 19 year old student called Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen).

Although his character Ted in How I Met Your Mother has skated dangerously close to becoming the 'Dawson Leary' of his own story, I'd argue that away from the show 
Josh Radnor's film career is the one to envy. He may not have the Judd Apatow connection like Jason Segel or the eye-catching showmanship of Neil Patrick Harris (most recently seen in The Smurfs), but he's a man in charge of his career, both in front of and behind the camera.

In his directorial outings (Liberal Arts and Happythankyoumoreplease), he's made some smart casting decisions, surrounding himself with talented character actors who'll raise the quality of any movie by at least two notches. Richard Jenkins AND Allison Janney? Mr Mosby, you're spoiling us. But perhaps the most intriguing piece of casting is Elizabeth Olsen, able to free herself from the shackles of familial expectations with her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene. Incredibly watchable and precisely the kind of girl a 35 year old teacher would fall for, her presence makes this one of the must watch indies of the autumn.

Liberal Arts is in cinemas September 14th (US) and October 5th (UK).

Monday 6 August 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

With no huge releases this week, it's good to focus our attention on some classic back catalogue titles, among them a couple of repackaged Troma titles ready for their re-introduction to the world.

Sunday 5 August 2012


Starring John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt and Olivia Thirlby, Nobody Walks is the upcoming indie tale of marital dilemmas among the artistically creative, beautiful people. When Thirlby's Martine arrives in town to work on her movie, married couple Peter and Julie start to take notice of the other romantic prospects around them, leading to much pensive looks and vocalising of complex emotions.

The trailer and poster make the most of its connection to the 'so hot right now' writer Lena Dunham (I'd be tempted to call her the Mumblecore Diablo Cody, but it sounds like a thinly veiled insult), and Ry Russo Young's film was a hit at Sundance this year winning the Special Jury Prize, so this should have a lot of interest when it gets released later this year.

Just as I was starting to worry for John Krasinski's film career as a supporting player in Kate Hudson rom-coms, this looks much more promising, requiring him to act dramatically and play with the Mr. Nice Guy image he's gained in The Office. After the promising performance he put in in Sam Mendes' Away We Go, Nobody Walks looks to be putting Krasinski back on track, sort of like Mark Duplass but with a stronger jawline.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Supernatural Activity - Dear God, No.

Laughing in the face of anyone who says Blair Witch Project parodies are old hat, we now have a "paranormal spooftacular" in the form of Supernatural Activity. Filling the void left by the lack of a new entry into the Scary Movie franchise (and with Friedberg and Seltzer pre-occupied with their upcoming piece of art The Starving Games), this new low-low budget "comedy" riffs on recent horror hits like Paranormal Activity and then apparently running out of material quite soon, resorts to spoofing any horror film released in the last 15 years that might have scared someone once, but more importantly retains some sort of recognition with the audience. 

Finding humour in gay jokes, Parkinson's disease and the death of Patrick Swayze (too soon guys, too soon), it's about the level of creativity I'd expect from a former co-star of Mary-Kate and Ashley sitting in the director's chair and a bit part actor writing under the psuedonym of 'Johnny Story'. Almost worth starting a war for oil and re-instating the draft, Supernatural Activity is the unfortunate byproduct of too many young white males with too much time on their hands.

If you fancy punishing your eyeballs, Supernatural Activity is hitting DVD shelves (What? No theatrical release?!) on August 13th.

Friday 3 August 2012


This Moscow set, Timur Bekmambatov produced sci-fi thriller is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. Critically mauled on its theatrical release, were the detractors wrong?

Thursday 2 August 2012


The debut film from Gareth Evans, director of The Raid, has just been released on DVD. But is it any good and does it show a taster of what was to come?

Wednesday 1 August 2012


Re-released this week is one of the great under-appreciated '80s teen comedies. Starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman (AKA The Two Corey's), License to Drive about a young man's dream to pass his driver's test and take the cute girl from school out on a date. As Haim's character puts it, "an innocent girl, a harmless drive. What could possibly go wrong?"