After four years of on and off writing this blog, I have decided to move it over to www.purplecamera.co.uk.
All of the posts I have written previously will remain here as well as being posted on the Purple Camera site but for those who are interested in seeing me complete my 365 Challenge or want to read any other posts I write in the future, they will posted there.
Purple Camera Media is a film production company which was formed at University by myself and a few like minded individuals. Since graduating we have made several short films and are currently editing another, whilst there are also plans to create two feature films.
We recently discovered that each of the members of Purple Camera was writing a separate blog and therefore it makes sense to combine them all in one place where people can also access our videos and other content. I hope that you come check it out for some exciting content that not only I, but the other talented writers are consistently creating.
Thank you for reading this blog.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space, a cult classic ‘bad’ movie, is a film that delivers in terms in tone and creativity but is let down by its lack of gore and disappointing murders.
The opening of Killer Klowns From Outer Space is one of the slowest and most disappointing you can get from the low-budget horror genre. There is an expectation in these films to get off to a fast start; establishing the threat and setting the audience up for the next hour and twenty minutes. Killer Klowns does not do this… in the first ten minutes only one person dies and then he is just shot by a laser gun; the rest of the opening is spent establishing characters who don’t really have any depth.
Then after a ridiculously long time the film does finally pick up and becomes enjoyable as we see Klowns creatively use circus items to help them murder villagers with a particular interest in capturing townsfolk in candy floss cocoons. Many of the murders are funny, imaginative and delivered after great one-liners but also extremely toned down. There is a distinct lack of blood and guts that makes the film seem childish and stops any threat from actually existing. None of the deaths feel real in the slightest and thus there is no sense of tension or danger in the final act. It is just really toned down with the focus more on having ‘cool’ deaths than actually making them look good.
The film is despite its disappointments still extremely entertaining as a genre piece, it delivers exactly what the title sets it up to do and does so in a unique and unexpected way. The jokes are on point and it looks really good, with the Klowns and circus tent in particular creating haunting imagery.
Killers Klowns From Outer Space is then a film which has mixed results… I can see why it is considered a cult classic but for me it just left me disappointed and wanting gore.
Sliding Doors is a unique British rom-com and a personal favourite of mine as it tells not just one but two cliché stories in a truly interesting way.
I first saw Sliding Doors several years ago when for a University assignment I was hunting for non-chronological films, although the film is technically chronological it still impressed me with its charm and its attempt at being original.
The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Helen, who loses her job and then misses a tube train in one reality, whereas in a second she catches said train. From here the film splits in two inter-linked parts where we see different futures for Helen with mixed results in each. Although both stories if told alone would be extremely boring and obvious to an audience the films use of dual-narrative allows both to become unexpectedly interesting leading to a climax which always surprises me in its emotional power.
What helps this power is strong performances from its cast and a very dry wit that is highly amusing. Paltrow as a lead is so ridiculously sarcastic it’s hard not to love her and the contrast between her and the two love interests James (John Hannah) and Gerry (John Lynch) is wonderful to watch. Hannah’s character is chatty and constantly referencing popular culture – specifically Monty Python and the Beatles – whereas Lynch seems to have no idea what he’s doing. This with the addition of ‘bitchy American’ Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn) makes for an intriguing love square/octagon (or perhaps three interconnected triangles – depending on how you look at it) that adds a depth to the film.
It is a lovely film to watch that has heart and soul without any of the over-the-top emotions. Yes the film is romantic but not in the usual puffy sort of way, the romance in Sliding Doors is much more intimate and toned down, hidden behind a very British veneer of jokes and alcohol.
Throughout the film Monty Python are often referenced and although ‘Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition’ the audience can see every twist and turn in this film from a mile away, but in a good way.
A weird but wonderful film, Slaughterhouse Five offers a unique look at time travel in a confusing but intriguing movie.
Based on the complicated book by Kurt Vonnegut (which I love), Slaughterhouse Five is a film that I expected to be just ok. The novel includes lots of jumping through time and has a strange satirical tone that I thought would be difficult to replicate. However in this film George Roy Hill does a great job on both fronts creating a film that is truly enjoyable and tells the story in a way that not only makes sense but captures the messages about war (and post traumatic stress) that Vonnegut puts across so clearly.
Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) is a man who is ‘unstuck in time’; he is able to jump through and visit different points of his life but without any sort of control. This leads to a series of interconnected stories as we t we see Billy in WWII, as a successful optometrist/family man and abducted by aliens amongst other events. The film is bizarre at points, emotional at others but always interesting as you have no idea where he will end up next or what will happen, it is a unique film-watching experience and I find it astounding how much emotion is created from such a convoluted story.
What I loved most about this film however was its layers… it feels like a film you could watch over and over again, each time gaining something new. The base story is interesting to carry first time viewers through, but I feel there is much more below the surface to be found. It is a cult classic for a reason and much like the novel has hidden elements and meanings that work really well together.
As a first time viewer of the film I do feel that I cannot adequately review the film for what it truly is, but I know I will watch it again and am certain there will be a much more interesting review when I do.
A very British twist on Bruce Almighty, Absolutely Anything has amusing script that is bought to life in a stunted fashion with mixed results.
Absolutely Anything has two main selling points – firstly it is the first film since the Meaning of Life (1983) to have all five surviving members of Monty Python together again and secondly it is the last film to be released that stars Robin Williams. Unfortunately both of these selling points are hugely disappointing as both Williams and the Python Crew perform voice-work on just a small number of scenes with the Python contingent being particularly unsatisfactory.
Once you embrace this disappointment though and accept that the roles are simply bit-parts the film becomes easily enjoyable as Simon Pegg gains magic abilities and uses them with escalating ridiculousness.
The opening of the film is slow and feels incredibly awkward as many of the early jokes feel forced, cringeworthy and simply fall flat. It feels like a late-eighties comedy made in the modern day and after twenty minutes the film is on a crash-course for disaster.
Luckily however it is saved by Pegg’s powers. Once he realises what he can do the film improves and is all of sudden filled with comedic gold. As it progresses the film just gets increasingly stupid and simultaneously increasingly fun. Embracing it for what it is the last three-quarters of the film are truly laugh a minute; particularly as Pegg struggles with the overly precise nature of the rules.
Throughout the film there is a strong sense of Britishness to the humour as it embraces dark comedy in a stupidly light-hearted and satirical way. In no other film would you see a group of 38 children murdered for almost no reason for example (although shortly afterwards they are bought back to life).
Absolutely Anything is then a slow starting train that once you embrace it and hop on takes you a hilarious world. It’s just a real shame that the Monty Python members have little more than a cameo.
Dog Soldiers is a ridiculously fun movie filled with violence and foul-mouthed language that delivers exactly what it should.
The story of Dog Soldiers is a simple one… whilst on a training mission a group of soldiers are attacked by werewolves and must fight together in order to survive. Of-course they find help from unexpected places and there are few twists but the plot is extremely predictable and this isn’t a bad thing. With the audience knowing essentially what to expect from the film we are free to enjoy it for what it is… an excuse for gore.
The film is extremely episodic in its structure following a basic fight, talk, fight, talk, fight formula, which works surprisingly well. It is at its best during the ‘fight’ sequences when blood and guts go everywhere and characters find themselves in several gruesome situations. It is cringeworthy at points and that’s what makes it so fun to watch – you know the characters are going to die but are excited to see how they do so.
The talking segments of the films between the fights don’t quite reach the levels of the action but still make for entertaining viewing, the dialogue being filled with curse words, insults and football jokes. Some of these sequences go on for longer than perhaps they need to but they serve their purpose and allow the audience to catch their breath after the intense action.
The film main downfall comes from the design of its villains. The Werewolves in the film look like people in cheap Halloween costumes and this is extremely distracting. Throughout the first half of the film it isn’t such an issue as the filmmakers opt to barely show them, cutting away quickly every-time they’re on-screen. However as the film progresses we see more and more of the wolves and they look worse and worse thus becoming less and less threatening. It’s just really disappointing.
Overall then Dog Soldiers is a good gore-horror film that achieves what it sets out to, it’s just a shame that the werewolves look awful.
Pandorica is an extremely low-budget film that looks like it cost a lot more; setting a new standard for all filmmakers.
Prior to seeing Pandorica as part of it’s limited cinematic run, it was a film I knew almost nothing about. Having worked with one of the actresses and being a keen supporter of Indie film, when I heard about the screening I decided to go along and this was definitely the right decision.
For just £77,000 (that’s about 200 times less than the similarly post-apocalyptic Mad Max Fury Road), Pandorica presents to the audience a future where mankind has been forced back to its tribal routes after an unknown event known as ‘The Great Reset’. This happened many generations ago and in the film we follow three young members of the Varosha tribe as they head into the woods to decide who will become the new leader. They have no idea what to expect from the dangers or the night and must work together to fight off various perils.
Before the film began the director Tom Paton gave a short speech in which he cited John Carpenter as a key influence and as soon as the credits roll this is obvious. The film opens with expansive aerial shots of a forest (made cheaply with a drone camera) and a score reminiscent of The Thing (1982).
From this point the film moves forward at a fast pace as it allows the beautiful cinematography and wonderfully crafted design to bring the story to life. It is a great film to watch led by a cast who all perform soundly, the standout being Bentley Kalu in a short villainous cameo as the character ‘9’. This performances adds a surprising amount of tension and depth to the final act of the film.
Despite its amazing look, intriguing scenario and solid performances the film does suffer from the pitfalls of its budget. Post-apocalyptic/tribal cinema such as this will always be judged on the quality of its action sequences, as after all fighting is the most basic human defence. Sadly in the film these scenes disappoint as the actions scenes are restricted, brief and often too dark. As entertaining as the film is, I just felt it needed more gore. Every-time the excitement for a scene was built up it crashed down too fast leaving a huge sense of a missed chance and mixed levels of satisfaction.
On the whole then Pandorica proves that ridiculously low-budget films can challenge high-budget cinema in terms of technical finesse and entertainment value. Compare it against ninety per-cent of the big Blockbuster films and it will stand up admirably. Unfortunately it misses that magical spark that could turn it from good cinema to great, but I’m sure that by following its pattern other filmmakers can find this.
Either way it shows that Indie feature films live on and can gain an audience.
An old-school thriller pumped full of tension, Identity rarely breaks new ground but is an entertaining film nonetheless.
Ten strangers all become stranded as the same motel and then one by one are murdered with the identity of the killer unknown. Although the set-up for the film is rather obvious it does a good job of setting up the movie and drawing the audience in through a series of quick and interconnected flashbacks showing how each character arrived there.
Then when everyone is there the fun begins as it becomes a classic ‘whodunnit’ movie with gore, intrigue and lots of twists and turns. It is a tense film that has a surprising amount going for it even if the final twist is rather obvious.
In an ordinary film it is important that the audience has a character to back, a hero to root for. One of the beautiful and most enjoyable things about Identity is that this character doesn’t exist, every one of the people trapped in the motel is shown to be horrible and dislikeable in one way or another. This means that when it comes to guessing who the murderer it could literally be any of them, leading to true edge of your seat viewing.
Identity is thoroughly enjoyable thriller which whilst entertaining offers little more than cheap thrills.
The third (and for the time-being final) film in the Austin Powers franchise tries hard to give the characters depth for the first time but ultimately fails.
The ‘film-within-a-film’ opening of Goldmember provides a bright, original and comedic start to the movie, unfortunately it soon falls into a mire of poorly performed physical jokes and reusing tired lines from the previous two films.
It is however the sub-plot and ‘emotional core’ of the film that makes it suffer the most though. Whereas the first two films focused on outlandish events and ridiculous characters this film adds more meaningful element to with the introduction of Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) and a ‘father-son’ relationship.
Whilst Nigel Powers isn’t necessarily a bad character and is well performed by Caine as a token old-school British spy, he just feels increasingly out of place when surrounded by the other zany characters of the series. He is too much of a ‘Bond’ to be laughed at and not enough of a presence to allow the audience to relate to him.
Insistent use of flashbacks also hinder this film as we are shown Austin’s ‘Daddy’ issues through several unfunny moments from the past including a scene where Austin and Dr. Evil both attend some sort of Spy Academy together. The entire thing is forced and forgets to include jokes.
The flashbacks and sub-plot are all set up for a dramatic ‘twist’ ending which fails to make an impact in either a comedic or emotional way.
Whilst Goldmember is still a funny film it just goes too far in its attempt to be serious that it forgets where it came from.
The sequel to the original Austin Powers see the franchise move to more ridiculous ground with mixed results.
The Spy Who Shagged Me continues in much the same vein as the first film with the situations and story becoming even more outlandish and the introduction of new characters Mini Me and Fat Bastard and it is this two memorable characters whom I wish to talk about as they epitomize the good and the bad of the series.
Fat Bastard is everything bad about this film. A fat Scottish man who swears, farts and makes A LOT of poop jokes a lot is so low-brow that its sunk to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and still can’t be seen. Just everything about the character is ridiculous in a bad way. Singing ‘I Want my Baby Back Ribs’ for thirty second straight is not a joke in any way… it has no set-up and no punchline and really does nothing to amuse the audience. The entire character is pathetic.
Mini Me on the other hand does so much good for this film – a miniature clone of Dr. Evil is something straight out a Bond film. Some of the best jokes in the film come from the animosity between him and Scott the biological son. Yes Mini Me still provide low-brow humor but it fits well with his character and the fact that he is small just allows him to get away with so much more. The rendition of ‘Just the Two Of Us’ by Dr. Evil and Mini Me is a highlight of the series with their synchronized dance moves and the lyrics to the rap.
The Spy Who Shagged Me is an intriguing film in relation to the original, as it provides better moments but on the whole is worse.