Movie Lists

A wide range of the best of various genres

Movie Lists

NOBODY DIRECTS IT BETTER: 007 reasons why it’s great SAM MENDES is doing BOND 24


The news almost every James Bond fan in the land dared to hope for dropped in our lap… Sam Mendes, the hugely talented auteur behind Skyfall, will return for the as-yet-unnamed ‘Bond 24′.

It had been touch and go. Mendes first said no, electing to work on his newly-released musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, not to mention the offer of taking charge of the National Theatre. Then it appeared he was playing hard-to-get, moving to a neutral, unequivocal position when pressed over the last few months, away from the staunch negative once Skyfall had been released. THEN he turned down the National Theatre – a move that would free him up for several years – and with Charlie all done, it started to look ever more likely… and now we know.

Sam Mendes Will Return.

And here are my (00)7 reasons why that’s just the best news in a long while:


I’ve been watching Skyfall a lot recently, thanks to Sky Movies premiering alongside it’s manna from Heaven that is the Bond channel (I rarely watch anything else). I loved it on first watch. I loved it on second. And the more I watch it, the more it seeps in and I know the words, feel the scenes, embrace the characters… the more I genuinely believe Mendes made for the 50th movie anniversary of 007 possibly one of – if not *the* – quintessential James Bond picture; one that embraces the two very different legacies of 007 in Ian Fleming’s fiction & Cubby Broccoli’s classic cinema.

It’s a majestic picture, sumptuously shot by Mendes. Yes it certainly falls down when you analyse the plot, I do agree it’s full of holes, but it’s exciting, dramatic, affecting, moving and full of iconic moments. It’s not just a great Bond movie, it’s a great piece of cinema. I also implore you to listen to Mendes’ fascinating DVD/BluRay commentary on making it – you’ll be surprised more than once, I guarantee.


You only have to watch Skyfall to see just how true this is – the whole picture is stuffed to the gills with winks, nods and homages to the franchise of fifty years, and you get the sense that’s heavily coming from Mendes’ own love of what came before.

It’s been reported that he first got the gig when Daniel Craig got talking to him about their favourite Bond films, and the subsequent snowball led him straight to the cocktail that was Skyfall. A superb filmmaker anyway, Mendes brought that honest, strong British (despite always having made American movies) sensibility to the movie that made it feel more Bond than anything since the early 1960s. Only a Bond aficionado could have made a movie like Skyfall.

Case in point, if you want a Bond movie made by someone who’s the exact opposite, look no further than Quantum of Solace.



Let’s turn back time to 2002, a decade before Skyfall. The year of Die Another Day, almost the parody death knell of 007. Take a look at the cast Lee Tamahori assembled, outside of stalwarts Pierce Brosnan & Dame Judi DenchHalle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Rosalind Pike. Decent, I hear you cry, but nothing really beyond that.

Take a look, then, at who Mendes brought in for Skyfall, outside of Craig and Dench.

Javier Bardem. Ralph Fiennes. Naomie Harris. Ben Whishaw. Albert fricken’ Finney, for goodness sakes. No contest really, is it? An actors’ director, a man of the stage as well as the screen like Mendes, is going to attract a real calibre of performer. As we know, of course, three of those four will doubtless be in Bond 24, but we’ll get a new Bond villain, Bond girl, Bond henchman, and potentially other myriad figures. If he can get these guys, coupled with Skyfall‘s billion-dollar, record-breaking Bond franchise haul, PLUS the pedigree of 007… surely the sky (fall) is pretty much the limit now?


People often forget that a great movie is only the sum of its parts, and the engine that Mendes constructed crew beyond the immensely talented, long-standing 007 crew such as producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, or effects maestro Chris Corbould, was really quite something.

Roger Deakins, an Academy-Award winning cinematographer and frequent Coen Brothers collaborator, who was chiefly responsible for Skyfall‘s truly stunning visuals; Dennis Gassner, production designer par excellence who Mendes got the best out of; John Logan, another Oscar winner, who added the majority of the brilliance to outgoing franchise writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis’ script according to Mendes; and of course Mendes’ frequent collaborator, composer Thomas Newman – again, another Academy winner – who provided Skyfall with an elegant score to do the late, great John Barry proud.

Would hardly anyone else have brought together such supreme talent beyond Mendes? I very much doubt it. And chances are, they’ll all be back for round two…


One thing almost every Bond film seemed afraid to do was a) show true vulnerability in James Bond and b) explore any aspect of his past. Aided admittedly by the special nature of the anniversary film, Mendes nonetheless threw the rule book away, deconstructed Bond, and made ‘canon’ more than anything since Ian Fleming died almost half a century ago.

He took a cue, admittedly, from Martin Campbell (a great, unsung Bond director), who in GoldenEye scratched the surface and Casino Royale started etching at Bond’s persona. In some respects, Skyfall almost feels like a sequel to both of those films, at least thematically – all of them striving to examine *who* Bond is, why he’s relevant, and where he’s going. Mendes goes further than both pictures though – he strips Bond to the psychological bone and builds him back up again, pushing the franchise to an exciting dramatic brink – it’s not perhaps been since Peter Hunt’s almost anachronistic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service way back when.

Oh and, lest we forget, Mendes killed off Judi Dench. Only a director with balls does that. You can bet he’ll try and gut punch us yet again.


That said… Mendes will now strive to make a *very* different movie to Skyfall, and despite how great a picture Skyfall is, that’s a very very good thing.

He’s said in interviews he only saw the value of returning to Bond again if he had an idea, a story, and a character arc he was passionate enough about telling. He also commented how John Logan had come up with a brilliant story for the next one and, clearly, it’s good enough to get him back. Which means it must be amazing. And different. Suitably unique away from Skyfall that will allow him to once again make his mark on the franchise, much like Campbell did with his two very different approaches to Bond.

So where will he go with it? I for one believe he’ll make a lighter picture, something more colourful, with a dash more glamour and humour, amping up the elements of Skyfall he clearly enjoyed the most, with a threat bigger than Craig’s Bond has ever faced. In other words… I think Mendes will make his Thunderball.


Yes, it really is that good.

October 2015. James Bond and Sam Mendes will return.

Nobody directs it better…

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Movie Lists

Under The Radar 70s and 80s Horror Films Worth Watching


Freddy, Jason and Michael all ruled the roost back in the ’70s and ’80s, slashing everything and anything else that tried to break into the horror genre market in said era. Looking back, some thirty years later, and I can’t help but feel it’s my duty to introduce horror fans to some lesser known ’80s horror classics that still stick in my mind to this very day – horror fare that many of you may not be familiar with. The good news is that one of them has recently been re-released on Blu-ray with another set for the same treatment later on this year.

5.) SPECTERS (1987)


Donald Pleasance had this amazing talent of being able to turn second rate garbage into something so much superior than it really was. Specters is a prime example of said talent.

The film follows a team of archaeologists who, during an excavation, accidentally releasing an evil force into the world via underground catacombs. What’s lacking in plot devices is more than made up for in one heck of a sinister atmosphere, thanks by and large to the sound design. It’s certainly worth rooting this one out if unnerving ‘80s horror floats your boat.

4.) THE DEVIL’S RAIN (1975)


Despite the amazing ensemble cast involved, this little classic didn’t reach anywhere near as much of an audience as it deserved then and still deserves now. Bill Shatner and Tom Skerritt are brothers who find themselves battling it out against a Satanic cult led by Ernest Borgnine. Watch closely towards the end and you’ll even see a startlingly young John Travolta playing one of Borgnine’s proselytes.

The main protagonist in this film here is technical supervisor Anton LaVey. ‘80s horror movies served up some serious melt effects and The Devil’s Rain provided this in bucket loads of ooze. No sooner has the film started and we see the brothers’ father stagger in from a storm bubbling away and breaking into bits before ultimately turning into a puddle of sludge. The melt and slime goodness goes on for pretty much the entire duration of the film, culminating in a lengthy sequence with the cult members dissolving left right and centre.

3.) SLIME CITY (1988)


Let’s keep melting and cults the central theme as we move on with the next film in the list, Slime City.

The film follows a young man, excited about moving into a new apartment. Little does he know is that said apartment is in a building owned by members a cult of ectoplasmic body possessors.

The building’s rather diverse dwellers trick him into becoming a vessel for Zachary, the cult’s original leader. He soon finds himself suddenly melting and the only way he can restore his natural beauty is not by popping slices of cucumber on his eyes but rather by giving in to his newly found homicidal cravings.

Prepare yourself from some pretty hilarious yet horrific effects (and acting, although it’s so terrible it’s actually laugh-out-loud enjoyable).

A sequel, Slime City Massacre, was released in 2010 but sadly just doesn’t live up the original’s sliminess, although the acting is pretty much on a par.

2.) DEMONS (1985)


Plot holes aside I’m going to come out and just say Lamberto Bava’s Demons, or Demoni, is probably one of the most horrifying movies I’ve seen to date. Maybe that statement comes from the terrifying memories I have of experiencing this movie alone at a tender young age but I recently dared myself to watch the sequel and I have to admit it resuscitated some of the most frightening memories.

Whilst Bava certainly can’t be credited for having come up with an original plot or even a plot at all, he managed to create a film was packed full of so much tension and mayhem that that fact becomes totally immaterial. Considering the movie was shot on such a low budget, these ‘80s demons couldn’t look scarier and certainly scared me more than anything I’ve seen recently. To give you an idea, my nightmares are still haunted by the chap in the middle of the image above.

The monster effects combined with the terrifying setting  – an actual cinema – work a treat. I’m just so glad I never actually went to the cinema to see this or I don’t know if I would have been able to sit it out to the bitter end. Why set in a cinema you ask? Well the plot basically involves a group of people attending a midnight screening of a horror movie called Demons after receiving invitation flyers. As the audience sit down to enjoy the film, it appears that exactly what is happening in the movie they are watching starts to happen inside the movie theatre. If that wasn’t problematic enough, as soon as people start turning into Demons the remaining survivors discover all exits have astonishingly been bricked up.

Kudos to Bava for emphasizing everything audiences enjoy about horror films. You might find yourself laughing at first at the dodgy dubbing but once things start getting gnarly this film will have you thinking twice and thrice before heading to your local cinema to watch another horror movie.

Good news part one: This movie is slated to for a Synapse Films Blu-ray release on October 29th this year.

1.) STREET TRASH (1987)


Describing the film, screenwriter Roy Frumkes said, “I wrote [Street Trash] to democratically offend every group on the planet.” If everyone on the planet had seen the film back then, I’m sure he couldn’t have been more right. It’s such as shame that wasn’t the case as this is one of THE strongest memories imprinted on my brain from the ’80s.

Pretty much everything about this film crosses boundaries for the sake of doing so but all the bad taste is executed with such good taste – beheadings, necrophilia, rape, vomit, and a see-it-to-believe it game of catch with a man’s severed penis as the poor chap runs around trying to recover what’s been taken away from him.

Without spoiling too much for those yet to see this masterpiece, the plot revolves around a crate of expired booze, called Viper, which is sold off at a local off-licence to tramps for a dollar. Little do the poor chaps know that as soon as they take a swig of the stuff they are in for a melt in your mouth and not in your hand surprise.

Whilst the previous melt movies mentioned here were pretty stunning for the time, it has to be said that Street Trash provides you with the most unique and grotesque effects ever put on film. Bodies melt, explode, and disintegrate with the most vibrant bursts of all the colours of the rainbow slime. At the same time it’s so clear that the makeup team behind all the gore had a whale of a time and the plasticine cartoony effects add so much more to the fun whilst never, never, never detracting from the sheer horror the film recreates.

Good news part two: Street Trash was released last month on Blu-ray by good old Synapse Films so get it while stocks last.

Obviously there are oodles of classic horror films from this era but these are five that really stood out for me during my teen years. If you have an avid penchant for ‘80s horror movies than these are certainly worth tracking down to give them the viewing they deserve.

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Top Movies: July 2013


Now You See Me – 3 July


With Dynamo raising eyebrows since his apparition on the magic circuit us Brits are yearning for a healthy dose of abracadabra packed into an action-thriller-heist movie. Now You See Me certainly looks to pack all that into its running time. Under the adept direction of Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Unleashed), the film follows a quartet of magicians know as The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco) who use their mastery of magic to perform their greatest performance to date, transferring a millionaires bank funds into the accounts of members of the audience.

The Bling Ring – 5 July

The Bling Ring final

Oscar-winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola is back directing, writing and producing somewhat of a genre change for her – the caper film, The Bling Ring, based on the Vanity Fair story “The Suspect Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales. Emma Watson has suddenly come of age and, as the trailer shows, we can expect to see her with different eyes as she plunders celebrity homes with her gang of crooks who come to be known as “The Hollywood Hills Burglars,” “The Burglar Bunch,” and “The Bling Ring,” all in the name of finding fame.

Despite the film being headed up by an ensemble cast of virtual unknowns, with the exception of the aforementioned Watson, The Bling Ring is sure to be one of our guilty summer season vices.

A Field In England – 5 July

a field in england final

Since his 2009 debut, Down Terrace, Ben Wheatley has quickly clambered up the ladder of indie British filmmakers concocting a new wave pedigree of horror. If you thought Kill List and Sightseers reinvented the mould, the trailer for A Field in England promises an heftier doses of ingenuity as Wheatley forays into the English Civil War.

Many may be put off by the black-and-white decision but it certainly seems to be making a comeback as of late with Wheatley explained he took this route as the film in colour would have been “really distracting.”

Expect nothing to be done by the book and a film destined to achieve late-night cult screening status for years to come.

Monsters University – 12 July

monsters university final

After thirteen films Pixar are picking up their backpacks and heading back to school with their first ever prequel, Monsters University. The film follows the antics of  Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James “Sulley” Sullivan (voice by John Goodman) relating their extremely shaky first encounter as monster fraternities battle it out in the annual Scare Games. Audiences can look forward to more than a few hat tips to cult ‘80s college movies so the film is sure to cater for kids and kidults alike.

Pacific Rim – 12 July

pacific rim final

Since the first footage of Guillermo’s Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim debuted at Comic-Con last year everyone has been waiting with bated breath see giant robots fight it out on the big screen against giant monsters (Kaiju). It certainly sounds like the perfect recipe for a generic summer blockbuster “a la Transformers”, but the promotional goodies haven’t turned sour yet and probably won’t as the release of the film is upon us. Not only that but with plotlines such as the robots being physically linked to the pilots, meaning they share memories, the simple premise becomes much more than brain switch off eye-candy.

To cut a story short the film relates how the Kaiju rise out of a dimensional portal in the ocean with the humans building massive robots, known as Jaegers, which require two pilots to fight in perfect synchronisation. If you want eye-candy that comes bundled with a plot that actually provides fodder to chew on this summer then Del Toro serves it up on a platter here.

Breathe In – 19 July

breathe in final

Drake Doremus follows up Douchebag and Like Crazy with Breathe In, a drama which the director had in fact completed photography on before Like Crazy had even hit cinemas. Collaborating once again with the actress Felicity Jones the film also boasts the presence of the acting muscles that are Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan. Whilst Doremus has confirmed the implementation of his semi-improvised filming process used for previous projects, Breathe in is said to implement a more conventional, handheld-free aesthetic, which we can’t wait to experience.

The World’s End – 19 July

the worlds end final

Following the first two “Cornetto Trilogy” outings that were Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz the word excited doesn’t even begin to describe how much expectation there is for the final entry, The World’s End. The film follows a group of old friends who decide the time has come to relive an epic pub-crawl from their youth which they do, only something apocalyptic gets in the way.

We can’t wait for Barmageddon. Enough said.

The Wolverine – 25 July

the wolverine final

Alongside Pacific Rim, this is the other biggest blockbuster coming out in the month of July. It’s also the film fans of the comics have been waiting for as this is the first time the series rummages into the character’s comic book roots in Japan.

The Wolverine finds Hugh Jackman back for a fifth time as Logan, this time doing battle with ninjas and the yakuza.

When Aronofsky pulled out of the project expectations faded but, given the film’s eventual director, James Mangold’s track record including the likes of, Walk The Line, Identity and 3:10 to Yuma the project has been nurtured in safe hands.

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Movie Lists

Top 5 Hitchcock Murder Scenes


‘The more successful the villain, the more the successful the picture’.

Hitchcock certainly wasn’t lying when he said that, with some of the most infamous murder scenes in film history attributed to his movies. He was willing to dabble in waters that other directors were petrified to go anywhere near. He was willing to challenge censorship and push it to its very limits. He succeeded in changing film forever and will always be remembered for his ambitious cinematic techniques, art of suspense, and of course, murder. So, what better way to celebrate the celebrated filmmaker than with a look at five of his most memorable murder scenes, a tough challenge to whittle them down I can tell you…

Blackmail (1929)


The first British ‘talkie’ and how else better to show off cinemas evolution to the audiences by giving them the screams and cries of murder! In this scene, Alice fends off a would-be-rapist, killing him in the process.

Watch the video.

Frenzy (1972)


Hitchcock returned to Britain after a sixteen year absence to shoot Frenzy. In this scene, the necktie murder lures a woman into his flat. They enter and the camera slowly tracks back out of the building in a beautifully executed shot that leaves the audience fully aware of what is to happen.

Watch the video.

Rope (1948)


How to open a movie? How about strangling somebody. Rope is one of the most, if not the most, ambitiously shot Hitchcock movies. In attempt to make the movie look like one entire shot – it’s actually three – Hitchcock composes a masterpiece of suspense infused with sickening behaviour – they throw the body in a chest, invite the family of the deceased over, and then dine off his resting place. Nasty.

Watch the video.

Dial M for Murder (1954)


Hitchcock favourite Grace Kelly is back in the hot seat as she defends herself from her tennis-pro turned blackmailer and killer husband. As he listens on the phone, Kelly is fighting off a moustached murder. But, as Hitchcock loves, the heroine overcomes!

Watch the video.

Psycho (1960)


Stab! Stab! Stab! Each cut, each sound, each movement perfectly executed to create one of the most iconic scenes in cinema, Psycho’s bathroom murder scene shocked audiences and Hollywood execs – especially when you kill off your lead girl half way through a movie!

Watch the video.

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