Posted by: Brian Salisbury
Written and Directed by Neil Marshall, 2002
Welcome back to AYIF. Werewolves are classic horror film fare. A bestial throwback to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with cultural variations appearing on multiple continents. I will not feign expertise on the subject because, with the film incarnations, my experience is limited. But I am aware of enough werewolf films to understand that there is no shortage of entries. So, like zombie or vampire films, the key to making a great modern werewolf movie is to put a unique spin on an old standard. That is exactly what DOG SOLDIERS attempts to do by including a military aspect. Let’s see if it works…
DOG SOLDIERS takes place in the wilderness of Scotland, the creepy moors-like environment that American Werewolf in London used in a similar fashion. It tells the story of a group of Scottish soldiers on a training exercise; finding themselves dropped in the middle of nowhere to play a war game with the wankers from Special Forces. Everything seems all apples and pears until big beasties show up and start divorcing members of the platoon from their organs. They end up being rescued by a mysterious girl who steals them away to a cottage in the woods to hole up. How long can they stay alive with the hounds of hell circling outside?
Posted by: Peter Hall
There are only two standard definition titles of the week that I recognize. MUM & DAD is a British import that got some modest appreciation on the fest circuit. The other is a flick called THE 8TH PLAGUE, which has found its way in this DVD guide well over a year ago. I’ve seen neither. The best bet may be THE 8TH PLAGUE, seeing as it now has a special edition.
Rounding out the straight to DVD titles of the week are ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, SCARCE, HOUSE OF THE DEMON, UNCONCIOUS.
The real winners of the week are the hi-def titles. I’m not the biggest fan, but DOG SOLDIERS on Blu is definitely going to warrant a watch, if not a purchase at a cheaper price point. I can’t say the same for TWILIGHT, though. Vampires that sparkle like diamonds are only going to look sillier in 1080p, but the teen vamp phenom certainly has its fans. Why else would Amazon think they could get away with charging $80 for a collectors edition?
This leaves Season 2 of “DEXTER” as the winner for the week. Season 2 has been available on DVD for a while and if you already own that set, other than the bump in looks there isn’t much incentive to pick it up in Blu. If, however, you are looking to save the economy by needlessly spending money, at $39 the price is right for a great show in the best available format.
Do you own THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN? Do you own ALIEN APOCALYPSE? No? Is it because they’re awful movies? Well, now you can get twice the awful for half the price! The Chin doubles up with the disc 2 TIMES THE BRUCE, though neither is worth $14. Sorry, Bruce.
Guh, is this a crappy start to the month or what? Next up is BTK, THE GRUDGE 3, and PLAGUE TOWN. I can’t speak to the quality of any of these three, though I think you can trust your instincts. BTK could be a Lifetime channel movie if Kane Hodder didn’t play the real life killer, THE GRUDGE 3 is near franchise abandonment and I saw someone on Twitter a week or two ago say PLAGUE TOWN was awful. Great month! Ugh.
The biggest genre title of the week is UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS. I never much liked the UNDERWORLD franchise. Oddly (though not without easy explanation) I do like Kate Beckinsale, but the franchise does nothing for me. I was out of country when this hit theaters, but I’m interested to see if Rhona Mitra can bring some fresh blood to the series I always felt suffered a lack of blood.
Worth stepping outside of the genre we have TAKEN, which gets a mention because it is a phenomenal return to form for the one-man action genre. I stopped counting, but if I had to guess I’d have to peg my TAKEN viewing count at no less than 7 times. If you saw Liam Neeson throat chopping all of Paris in a theater in the States, you actually got a watered down experience. This DVD and Blu-ray remedies that with the uncut, trigger happy version. This is a must see for any fan of ’90s action.
Blu-ray titles for the week include the mentioned RISE OF THE LYCANS (as well as a trilogy set of all three latex loving entries to the UNDERWORLD verse) and an HD release of the ‘original’ THE GRUDGE.
It has just occurred to me that MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (review) is the best horror I’ve seen in theaters so far in 2009. That is a statement I was not expecting to make, but is a testament to how much fun Patrick Lussier’s dimension thrusting update/ how piss poor the rest of the offerings have been so far this year. Both the DVD and BRD for this release include the 3D presentation as well as the 2D, though I’m ignorant as to what method is used. Everyone always talks about the ‘good’ 3D and the ‘bad’ 3D. If someone knows the difference, do drop some knowledge.
I love Magnet Releasing for giving festival titles broadened exposure, which they’ve done once again with EDEN LOG, which is a bizarre French hybrid of science fiction and horror. Taken as a whole, EDEN LOG is nothing to write home about, but it does have highlights and a technical mastery on the part of director Franck Vestiel, who for a feature first timer does an excellent job of invoking BRAZIL era Terry Gilliam. Also available on Blu.
I’ve heard mumblings of good things about British offering BANE, which I’m told has a low budget look not unlike the majority of titles each month, but that its strong script takes familiar material better places. Perhaps the same can be said of BACKWOODS (Haylie Duff, weird) and THE DEVIL’S GROUND (Daryl Hannah, weird) don’t know, but I’ll definitely be checking out BANE.
Reaching back into the catalog is 1982’s THE LAST HORROR FILM, which is not to be confused with THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, an intelligent Brit Indie from a few years back that I never pass up an opportunity to recommend.
I wish I could recommend Vikings and Astronaut vs Alien Beowulf flick OUTLANDER, but I’d only go so far as to shove it somewhere in your Netflix queue. The premise was either going to lend itself to inspiration or mastication, unfortunately we get the later. The best thing that can be said of OUTLANDER is that it chews and chews and chews on its roots, but never makes a meal of any of potentially tremendous elements. Ron Perlman probably filmed this on the same day he did MUTANT CHRONICLES.
On DVD and Blu-ray we have Season 1 of HBO’s “TRUE BLOOD”, which last year replaced both “LOST” and “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” as my favorite show on television. I will be giving this a buy in Blu and couldn’t be more excited about watching each episode again before the season 2 premiere in June. Sexy is probably the number one adjective bandied about describing the show, sexy is a killer buzz word for a blurb, but the show goes above and beyond its nudity.
The first three episodes are burdened by the heavy weight of having to acclimate the viewer to a supernatural world more adult than any genre fare in years, but the show really finds its groove around the time Bill recounts for a church group how he was turned during the civil war. From episode four on it is an invigorating, rapturous series. Assuming whoever you watch this with is okay with sporadically gratuitous sex, I’d say this is a must buy. If anything, Netflix it.
In addition to the mentioned titles on Blu, we’ve got Brad Anderson’s THE MACHINIST and a special edition of T2.
Three STD flicks end out the lackluster month: CARNIVOROUS, AMBITION and THE DEVIL’S TOMB. I’m actually looking forward to THE DEVIL’S TOMB. Not because I think it’ll be any good, but because a producer somewhere (likely in Europe) was able to wrangle a cast composed of Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Winstone, Taryn Manning, Ron Perlman, Zack Ward, Bill Moesely AND Henry Rollins. Somewhere in all that mediocrity must be at least one reason to justify 90 minutes of, er, tomb deviling.
And if you weren’t a sucker like me who bought it on HD DVD, you may want to go grab CHILDREN OF MEN, which hits the Blu shelves today.
Netflixing the Month
- “TRUE BLOOD”
- MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (if you have a way of seeing the 3D…)
- MUM & DAD
- UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS
- THE DEVIL’S TOMB
Posted by: Peter Hall
I was hoping this new release of DOG SOLDIERS would make me finally own a Neil Marshal film as I’m a sucker for ‘Steelbook Packaging’, but I’ll hold out for the Blu-ray in May. Also coming from England is Magnet Releasing’s DVD drop of DONKEY PUNCH. Despite getting a lot of coverage on genre sites, including yet another mention right this second, DONKEY PUNCH is not a horror movie by any stretch. It may even be a farther stretch to say it is a good movie. It stretches thin before long, but, hey, how can you not talk about a movie about conflict on a yacht after a girl is accidentally killed by the titular sex act?
My most anticipated title of the week is VINYAN from THE ORDEAL (review) director Fabrice Du Welz. VINYAN received mixed reviews across outlets, but that’s not enough to hold me back from it. THE ORDEAL was, understandably, a divisive film itself, though hopefully I’ll once again land in Du Welz’s corner.
Rounding out the month are several straight-to-DVD titles I know nothing of: DISTURBED, HOUSE, BLED, DARK SECRETS, and THE DEATH FACTORY BLOODLETTING (Holy Trying Title, Batman!).
Only Blu this week is FINAL DESTINATION. Considering my original DVD of the franchise starter went AWOL years ago, I may just pick this up.
Ah, a spacer week. SPLINTER (review) could have been a magnificent Indie, instead I find it a frustrating watch. It has great energy and a nice hook, but it has fallen victim to the unfortunate mindset that shaky cam is scary – and SPLINTER takes shaky cam to whole new levels at nearly every moment that it should be rock steady. Enough people love the flick, though, that you may want to consider it a rental. It is also the only horror title this week out on Blu.
A trio of late ’80s flicks gang together this week under the banner of ‘The Lost Collection’; MY BEST FRIEND’S A VAMPIRE, REPOSSESSED, SLAUGHTER HIGH. Also out is SUMMER SCHOOL, which is not a remake of the 1987 flick starring cinema’s greatest Leatherface fans which I taped off HBO as a kid and watched obsessively and that would have fit in perfectly with this Lost Collection business.
Ending out the week is THE TELLING, which stars a bunch of Playboy models and will be exactly what you expect: nice cleavage, terrible acting.
LAID TO REST scored the Fangoria cover recently, which is either a quality endorsement or a sign that Fango had nothing better in the publicity stills department. Whatever the case, it’s one of the more interesting titles of the month. Hopefully buzz proves true and LAID TO REST is more than a low-budget slasher.
The most interesting title of April, however, is J. T. Petty’s THE BURROWERS. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this period piece horror most easily reduced to TREMORS as a Western. Nevermind that TREMORS 4 was, well, TREMORS as a Western. I’ll be putting in my pre-order once I finish this list.
Filling out the straight-to-DVDs of the week is SAM’S LAKE followed by the 70’s flick I DISMEMBER MAMA, neither of which I know anything about. I have, however, seen GHOST TRAIN. Not this R1 US release, mind you, but the original Japanese film is nothing special.
Filling out the catalog reissues is a sweet looking HELLRAISER box set. I wish the whole package was available on Blu, but it looks like only the first will be. Also on Blu-ray is THE ARRIVAL, a strictly mediocre movie that I loved as a kid. May pick it up out of pure nostalgia.
Oh, and for the BSG fans out there willing to give it a shot, the pilot for CAPRICA is out on DVD this week as well. I was a huge BSG fan (still am even after the lackluster finale), but I’m rather indifferent to the prospect of this new series. Thanks to a generous friend, though, I actually have this DVD sitting on my desk right now. I might give it a watch this week and report back if people are interested. The series itself won’t even air until next year, I believe, so there isn’t exactly a rush to get through it.
Huh, just noticed it took four weeks for us to get the only major studio horror title of April; the DVD and BRD release of THE UNINVITED. I missed this in theaters. Well, missed it in so much as I never bothered to see it. I’ll review it on Blu, though. The original TALE OF TWO SISTERS was, despite being a logic mess, was incredibly effective. Unfortunately we all know how the studio system works.
It is this very system that helps forecast why S. DARKO won’t be anything to get worked up over. Someone has to make money off of DONNIE DARKO, though, and this is the result. To be honest I don’t even know if this is a sequel or a prequel and I don’t care enough to look it up. As Goss points out, S. DARKO was bumped to May.
Plenty has been said of MARTYRS so I merely point you once again to my review.
Unknown quantities of the week: THE SHE-BEAST, THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, PSYCHOS IN LOVE, ONE EYED MONSTER (Uh, Ron Jeremy and Amber Benson?). Rounding out the month is WHILE SHE WAS OUT, a solid dame-in-distress flick definitely worth checking out from the library.
Oh, and JCVD comes out as well. Obviously not horror, but I feel like if you’re the kind of person who reads this site, so you’ve probably heard tale of JVCD elsewhere. I wish it had a more vibrant color palette, but that may be my biggest complaint. Definitely worth a looksee, would make a terrific double bill with THE WRESTLER (out April 21).
JCVD and THE UNINVITED are also the only two genre friendly Blu-rays of the week.
Netflixing The Month:
- THE BURROWERS
- LAID TO REST
- SLAUGHTER HIGH
- THE UNINVITED
- WHILE SHE WAS OUT