Cult Movies on DVD

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

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Tuesday, 06 September 2011

“Black Heaven” is a dark and slinky techno thriller from France with a serious message about the potential perils of becoming immersed in cyberspace. Gaspard (Grégoire Leprince-Riguet) and Marion (Pauline Etienne) are young, sweet and innocent lovers. One day they stumble upon a lost mobile phone and start snooping on the owner and his beautiful blond girlfriend. They follow the couple and end up saving the girl in the midst of a disturbing suicide pact.

Marion thinks no more about the incident and looks forward to her future with Gaspard, but he becomes increasingly obsessed with the blond lady called Audrey (Louise Bourgoin - "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec"), and her involvement in a mysterious online videogame called 'Black Hole'. In this alternate reality, Audrey's avatar is Sam, a submissive slave, whilst in real life she is in with a bad crowd of thrill-seeking drug dealers. Death and deceit intersect both worlds.

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Thursday, 01 September 2011

In a society that worships good looks, it’s difficult to get those who have been submerged in this culture for all their lives, where beauty really is only skin deep. The age-old tale “Beauty and the Beast” has had a spruce-up so that the modern mystical and vampiric audiences can more easily bit into it. Teenage angst, tortured souls, brooding sexual undercurrents all combine to make “Beastly” a revamp in the truest sense.

Step forward Alex Pettyfer, fresh from success as John Smith in “I Am Number Four”, and still smarting from his time as Alex Rider in “Stormbreaker”, when a good film was ignored and didn’t launch a franchise.  Partner him with Vanessa Hudgens - Tin Tin in “Thunderbirds” (2004), but unfortunately also Gabriella in “High School Musical” – and you have a magical combination of lead actors.

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Monday, 29 August 2011

Written and directed by Ben C Lucas, “Wasted on the Young” comes from the Australian film industry to our shores – but don’t let that put you off.  Here we have their take on a tense high school drama, the stuff that Americans would suggest that they have cornered the market on. This takes the standard checklist of such movies, twists it and subverts it in a way which means that, at every turn, your expectations are undermined and played with.

It’s a very commanding and assured piece of direction from a first-timer who had only previously helmed a TV documentary. The stars of the movie are Oliver Ackland (Rhys in The Slap, Toby in Cloudstreet) as Darren, and Alex Russell (Hass in “Almost Kings”) as the social alpha-male step-brother Zack. It follows the disillusioned and disaffected students of an elite high school, with the two brothers occupying opposite ends of the school’s social hierarchy.

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Monday, 29 August 2011

In geological terms, the pyramids, as well as other ancient sites around the globe, including the infamous statues on Easter Island, are the ‘elephant in the living room’. They point towards inexplicable feats of engineering, completely impossible with the level of technology we widely expect these civilisations to have in their toolkit of skills. The building blocks were moved inordinate distances, the accuracy of their builds incredible in their execution.

A French co-production, it comes as no surprise that the truth comes out from a project for which English is very much the second language. Although there has always been the ability to dismiss alternative theories as to how these ancient monoliths came into being, stepping back and taking a deeper analysis always undermines these attempts - not only as unsatisfactory, but desperate in the extreme. This film does this and more besides.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Known in English as “Castle Vogelöd: The Revelation of a Secret” or “The Haunted Castle”, this silent-era film was directed by German trend-setter F W Murnau of vampiric “Nosferatu” fame. Made in 1921, it concerns spooky goings-on in the titular country abode, home of Count Oetsch. The Count has some aristocratic friends and family round for a few days of hunting, but the recent, unsolved murder of his brother hangs heavy in the air.

Oetsch (Lothar Mehnert) was and still is the prime suspect despite clearing his name in court. The brother was first in line to inherit their parents' fortune, and his widow, now Baroness Safferstätt (Olga Tschechowa), is expected, creating tense excitement in the other guests. Heavy rain is keeping everyone but the Count confined to the house; strangely he prefers to hunt in a storm. Before the visit is over, the truth be revealed, but for some of the visitors that time cannot come soon enough.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

This is a nervy horror film that features a fairly impressive cast, including Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Scoot McNairy (“Monsters”), Cameron Richardson (Harper's Island), Mike Erwin (Dexter) and Kelly Kruger (“Mysterious Skin”). It was directed by John Asher, who besides directing seven episodes of One Tree Hill has acted in numerous TV series. Not a bad pedigree for a small-time fright-fest.

A young boy is driven to homicide when his brother is attacked by their mum's aggressive boyfriend. Jump forwards fifteen years, and one of the brothers is witnessed escaping from a high-security prison. Meanwhile, four friends break down on the open road and seek assistance from a nearby scrap yard. One of them is shot and things rapidly head downhill from there. One thing is for sure: it will be a miracle if anyone survives the night. Much of the characterisation and action in this movie brings to mind “Scream”. For one thing, the protagonists goof around until the blood starts flowing, and from there on it is a tense run-around as one by one they are mysteriously picked off or vanish, apparently without trace.

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Tuesday, 09 August 2011

Set in 1930s Manchurian China, "Black Belt" concerns the fortunes of three elite karate pupils who interpret their deceased master's teachings in very different ways, and with tragic consequences. Following the invasion of China, the corrupt Japanese military police are rapidly taking over martial arts dojos across the land. When they get to the proud Shibahara dojo they encounter unexpected resistance and are forced to turn back, but not for long.

Having suffered the agony of watching their master pass away, Choei (Yuji Suzuki), Giryu (Akihito Yagi) and Taikan (Tatsuya Naka) must decide who is worthy to inherit his threadbare but symbolic black belt, effectively taking over his mantle. Choei is seriously injured and is forced to act as a mediator; pacifistic and humble Giryu ends up working on a farm and the more combative Taikan is consumed by power and pleasure. No matter how far apart they stray, destiny will surely bring them back together again.

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Sunday, 07 August 2011

For those of you who have not come across “Super”, some delusioned reviewer tried to suggest it was in the same ball park as “Kick Ass” – a film with so much confidence that its marketing team didn’t see the point of sending this website a review copy (tsk, tsk). Not so with Writer and Director James Gunn’s low budget entry into the superhero realms. We were promptly delivered a copy, and noted the ‘18’ certification before proceeding – Amazon reckons it’s a ‘15’ which shows that this was a bone of contention somewhere in the approval process. More on this later.

The big difference with “Super” is that, with most superhero epics, the lighter moments, fun, and action are to the fore, and lead to an overall ‘feel good’ factor by the conclusion, despite darker moments and beloved character deaths en route. However, “Super” balances this the other way.  Dark humour is in the mix, but overall this is a movie tragedy of darkest Shakespearean proportions. It will leave you wondering about the balance of good and evil in the world, and that dark forces often will prevail.

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Monday, 25 July 2011

“Gallants” is a martial arts comedy about a pathetic young office worker who becomes a man, and pair of older men who prove they still have what it takes. As punishment for his all-round incompetence, Cheung (You-Nam Wong) is dispatched with his tail between his legs to resolve a bitter property dispute. The stubborn owners of a tea house refuse to sell up, incurring the wrath of Master Pong (Wai-Man Chan), a devious real estate boss.

Rather than sticking to his brief, Cheung takes a shine to the unusual occupants of the cafe which used to be a martial arts club. They include Law (Teddy Robin Kwan), a long-comatose kung fu grand master, a pair of his aging students called Tiger (Siu-Lung Leung) and Dragon (Kuan Tai Chen), and Kwai (J J Jia), a pretty girl who hangs out there. Pong's lure of a kung fu tournament offers a possible way out, but the opposition is young and tough.

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

“The Funhouse” comes from horror director Tobe Hooper, renowned for a rather influential Texan chainsaw massacre movie, “Poltergeist” and Salem's Lot. High on pot and heavy petting, two young couples visit a trashy travelling carnival. Non-plussed with the shoddy exhibits and rides, they foolishly decide to up the ante by spending the night inside the funhouse. Unbeknownst to them, a murderous freak lurks inside.

The film stars Elizabeth Berridge (“Amadeus”, “Hidalgo”) as Amy, Cooper Huckabee (True Blood, “Gettysburg”) as her hunky boyfriend Buzz, Largo Woodruff as Liz and Miles Chapin of “Hair” and “The People Vs Larry Flynt” fame as her squeeze Richie. The ill-feted sleepover is Richie's idea, and is going swimmingly until they witness a gruesome strangling by a masked carnie. They could be next unless they can escape undetected.

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Monday, 04 July 2011

“The Pack” is a horror movie that tries to defy classification and expectation within the genre despite containing a fistful of clichés. Lone driver Charlotte picks up a hitchhiker who subsequently disappears at a truck-stop cafe after a disturbing altercation with some unpleasant bikers. Later that night she breaks into the cafe to investigate, and is promptly caught and knocked out by the quirky female owner and her son.

When consciousness returns, Charlotte (Emilie Dequenne - "Brotherhood of the Wolf") finds herself caged inside a grotty farm outbuilding and treated like cattle being fattened for the slaughter. Our heroine is not keen on hanging around to see what terrible fate awaits her, and so she tries to hatch an escape plan with a fellow prisoner. 

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Monday, 27 June 2011

"Detective Dee" is an effects-heavy action adventure set in 689AD China. It is the eve of the coronation of the first ever female ruler (Carina Lau - "2046"), and not everyone is happy about it. Her personal security is placed on high alert for assassination attempts. Outside the royal palace, the construction of a gigantic Buddha statue is going well until an important visitor spontaneously combusts and a bizarre murder investigation ensues.

Political prisoner Detective Dee (Andy Lau - "The Warlords", "House of Flying Daggers") is released to lead the case. Before he can uncover the truth, Dee must overcome magical killer deer (that can talk!), bewildering splitting monks and armies of deadly ninjas. Aiding and sometimes hindering Dee are whip-yielding Officer Jing'er (Bingbing Li - "The Forbidden Kingdom") and Minister Donglai (Chao Deng), a very suspicious and nimble albino.

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Monday, 27 June 2011

Made in between his more famous supernatural horror outings, "Tenebrae" ("Darkness") represents a relative return to normality for the maestro of terror, Dario Argento. When American horror novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa - "The Long, Hot Summer", Matt Helm, The Name of The Game) arrives in Rome to promote his latest best seller, a serial killer steals his limelight by committing a brutal murder and creating a connection to the author via a cryptic letter.

Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and his assistant commence their investigation whilst trying to protect the writer, and Neal's deal-hungry agent (2005 Cult TV guest John Saxon - "Enter The Dragon", "From Dusk Till Dawn") encourages his client to promote his book around the city as liberally as possible. As the killer turns their attention to Neal's entourage, the police worry that he could be the ultimate target.

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Monday, 27 June 2011

"The Survivor" is an adaptation of James Herbert's best-selling horror novel about the sole survivor of a terrible aeroplane disaster. Moments after take-off, a passenger jet carrying 300 people plummets into a field very close to a town. As the emergency services struggle to contain the blazing wreckage, a lone figure emerges from the flames. That man is pilot David Keller, suffering from shock and retrograde amnesia.

Keller (Robert Powell - Holby City, "The Thirty Nine Steps") is rushed to hospital but is fit enough to return to the crash site within a day or two. Unable to piece together what happened during the doomed flight, he is approached by a strange lady called Hobbs (Jenny Agutter - "Logan's Run", "An American Werewolf in London"), who appears to be obsessed with the accident and claims she might be able to help him uncover the truth.

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Friday, 24 June 2011

Director Charles Ferguson brings us “Inside Job”, a film exposing the reality behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 Trillion, resulted in millions losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, this documentary traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

This exposure of the root of the global financial catastrophe became an Oscar winner in the ‘Best Documentary Feature’ category. Unfortunately, it sticks to a very traditional view of banking, without opening the pod door on the truth that this was conspiracy, not cock-up. Starting with a quick guide to how Iceland got into the financial mire it did, it’s regrettable that a small mention was not made that they’ve kicked out the IMF (they’re not drawing down from their ‘loan’) and are prosecuting their banksters.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Orange clouds of napalm rising up over a backdrop of dense palm trees.  Smoothly gliding helicopters inhabit an extreme foreground, making them seem bigger than they really are. A surreal slow motion to the action, flames beginning to envelop the entire scenery.  A sense of the unreal envelops our senses.  Welcome to the extreme world that is “Apocalypse Now”.

Directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and originally released in 1979, thanks to a pristine Blu-ray restoration this movie takes on a whole new dimension. A timeless classic, and by substitution of Vietnam with your choice of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or wherever the next decreed terror target is, this is a powerful statement against war.  Against whomever. Wherever. In the end the leaders don’t suffer, but the soldiers and the civilians certainly do.

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Monday, 20 June 2011

‘'Those who choose safety over freedom deserve neither’. So exclaims one of the characters in this conspiracy theory-cum-robot terror movie, paraphrasing the great Benjamin Franklin. Set in the very near future after the passing of the ironically-named ‘Freedom of Observation Act’, “Eyeborgs” would have you believe that a terrifying network of animal-like robotic surveillance cameras is watching our every move.

Benign little surveillance droids patrol every rooftop and hang from every ceiling; at street-level, larger crab-like robots lurk, recording every movement and conversation. One man apparently at ease with this scenario is Homeland Security Agent ‘Gunner’ Reynolds (Adrian Paul - Highlander), who is investigating a series of suspicious deaths. Years earlier, a CCTV camera was instrumental in the conviction of the murderer of his son and wife.

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Monday, 20 June 2011

“Face To Face” asks what would happen if a pacifistic scholar and a murderous bandit were forced together. Suffering from chronic tuberculosis, Professor Brad Fletcher (Gian Maria Volonté – “A Fistful of Dollars”) is convalescing in sunny Texas when a stagecoach arrives with a deadly prisoner onboard. Soloman ‘Beauregard’ Bennett was leader of the much-feared Wild Gang until it was all but wiped out by the authorities.

Beau (Tomas Milan – “Traffic”, “The Yards”) guns down his guards but takes a bullet in the process. He takes Fletcher hostage, fleeing in the coach. They crash and Fletcher compassionately tends to the incapacitated outlaw. Lost in the wilderness, the professor agrees to take Beau to an old hideout to recover, and what begins as a grudging acquaintance slowly grows into a stronger bond as they learn more about each other.

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Most sane people would probably agree that director Uwe Boll is not exactly synonymous with quality, so one has to question the marketing nous of the person responsible for plastering 'Presented by Uwe Boll' on the jacket of this Italian zombie movie. In the case of "Eaters" though, Boll was only involved in its financing and promotion, so let us give this indie horror a stay of execution until we have actually seen what it has to offer!

Picture a post-apocalyptic nightmare where women can no longer conceive and zombies roam the Earth. The few humans left alive have to fend off not only flesh-eating zombies but also crazy scientists, Nazi-worshipping midgets and deadly religious cults. Enter our two heroes Igor and Alen who serve the needs of Gyno, a doctor desperately trying to find a cure for the plague deliberately spread by a fanatical terrorist.

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Monday, 06 June 2011

“Demons Rising” is an action-packed horror film shot for a pittance but certainly not short of ambition. Written, directed and starring William Lee, the indie movie’s plot concerns The Liber Malorum, aka the Book of Life and Death, and the chaotic race between several good or evil groups to either bury it or read it to unleash its powers. Those who delve into the book are overcome by virtually unstoppable demons. After centuries underground, the book is finally tracked down by a shady Italian gangster called Doctor Montorio.

Montorio deploys his lackeys to retrieve the tome, setting motion a frantic battle for its possession. In the book’s wake, the bodies quickly mount up. Amongst those standing against Montorio and his forces of evil are thief Kyle Rush (E.J. Toxey) and muscle-bound government agent turned Buddhist Monk, Matthias (Lee). Numerous other organisations, cults and individuals get drawn into the hunt, including Matthias’s gun-running brother, the CIA and an old lady who develops an unhealthy appetite for human flesh.

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Monday, 23 May 2011

As the title of this movie suggests, it relates to a sensitive and taboo subject: The killing and death of children. Ironically, after an introduction that bleakly explains how it is children that typically suffer the worst during and after international and civil wars, the film turns the tables. Here, giggling, weapon-wielding children are pitted against a pair of unsuspecting holiday makers who travel to the fictitious Spanish island of Almanzora.

Alternative, less subtle titles for the movie give the game away somewhat, especially “Island of the Damned”, for it is a cross between “Children of the Damned”, “Children of the Corn” and “The Birds”. When married couple Tom and Evelyn arrive at the island, they initially savour the peace and quiet. It is not long, however, before they get creeped out by the total lack of adults and some disturbingly unresponsive children.

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Monday, 23 May 2011

Two siblings, Regina (Christine Lakin – Hellcats, Family Guy) and Devon (Tim Draxl – Supernova and the ill-fated Day One) experience a brutal and terrifying encounter with some small-town thugs. Several years later they return to the isolated town with some mates, even though Regina is still traumatised. In a bid to kill two birds with one stone, they hope to exorcise her demons and have a wild time motorbiking in the canyon.

The group stay in Regina and Devon’s late mother’s house, a rickety abode in the middle of nowhere with the exception of a few other shacks and a roadhouse frequented by red necks. Nearby lies the cave where the horrific incident occurred, and where they plan to return. Events quickly spin out of control and rather than cleanse Regina of her nightmares, they stir up local ire and end up having to fight for their lives.

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Monday, 09 May 2011

“Pandemic” showcases the potentially devastating effects of a deadly virus outbreak in Japan. What apparently begins as a small-scale avian flu outbreak in a village rapidly expands to consume the entire country in a spiralling nightmare of fear, death and destruction. The race is on to contain the effects of and isolate the killer bug, and then find a cure before millions succumb.

The movie focuses on the efforts of WHO medical officer Eiko (Rei Dan) to educate others, tend to the infected and find a vaccine. She is joined by Dr. Tsuyoshi (Satoshi Tsumabuki – “Dororor”) who is based in City Hospital, the investigation team’s base of operations. The two characters are old friends but their differing approaches to medical care cause them to clash when faced with such a desperate race against time.

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Monday, 09 May 2011

If I told you that “Lovely, Still” is a movie about old-age romance at Christmas time, I would imagine most people would be reaching for the off switch in seconds. I implore you not to be so hasty though, as this spellbinding movie has a lot more to offer, including fantastic performances from the two Oscar-winning leads, enchanting music and visuals, and a truly blinding twist that sends the film off into a whole new direction.

Martin Landau of Space: 1999 and Mission: Impossible fame is Robert Malone, a tired and lonely old man. He has an easy job in a local supermarket, and finds some pleasure in drawing sketches. One day he leaves the house with the front door ajar, and returns later to find a complete stranger in his lounge. It turns out to be Mary (Ellen Burstyn – Big Love, “The Exorcist”), who has just moved into the house opposite.

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Monday, 02 May 2011

In the freezing waters of the Arctic the slow thaw of Global Warming brings a new threat to man. A prehistoric shark: frozen, perfectly preserved and hungry. Dinoshark, as the creature becomes known, makes his way south to the somewhat warmer climate of the shores of Mexico. There he wreaks havoc amongst the locals and tourists. It is up to Trace, a fishing boat captain and Carol a science teacher to stop the killings at the same time avenging the death of their friend, who became one of Dinosharks first meals.

When I asked to review this film I was hoping to slyly pinch and re word a lot of the “Sharktopus” review I did a few weeks ago. Indeed the blurb that came out with this film mentions “Sharktopus”. It comes to us from the same people. It is shot in the same place (so much so that I could pick out the same backdrops several times). And it is basically the same story.

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