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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Round Up #8 (Oct 22)

It's been 'scare month' incase you somehow hadn't noticed and the clocks went back last Saturday night, giving all of us UK film nuts an extra hour of chills. I took full advantage and slept through it, of course. We're over six hundred posts to the blog and it's been a bit more than a year so far. As usual, it's been difficult finding enough five-star films to require the fingers of both hands to count, but I am anticipating that may well change in the next few months, when the heavyweights come out to play in time for awards season, so who knows?

Song of the Month (based on Spotify plays - 77)

Feel Like This - Ingrid Andress

Bless This House (1972) - A golden age for both Sid James and Peter Rogers. Shoved unceremoniously in between Carry On Matron and Carry On Abroad, Sid James made a movie that wasn't actually a Carry On vehicle, even if it was directed by Gerald Thomas.

As a snapshot of life in seventies English suburbia, it's not exactly what you would call authentic. Bless This House was as just as close to bordering on farce as Carry On, Terry & June (the new next door neighbours here) Porridge, Rising Damp and George & Mildred. Presenting an unavoidable misogynistic approach to the every day was entirely normal for its time and this feature dwells less obviously on it than many of the others in the aforementioned list, though feels horribly dated, despite the lack of lurid, saucy postcard smut.

Devil's Workshop (2022) - Going largely under the radar and straight to streaming, this is a little nugget far from the box art. Radha Mitchell, Timothy Granderos and Emile Hirsch bring to life what may have been released as a dead donkey had it not been for the casting. Blink and you'll miss it, coming in at under an hour and a half, with slightly more exposition than we need. It's slow, even given the running time, and ponderous. This allows for a great opportunity to take in the characters, which are truly the highlight.

Jeepers Creepers Reborn (2022) - I never thought I'd say it. but I'd rather be playing Silent Hill Downpour on the Switch. Wooden acting, careless haphazard direction and laughable scripting make this one to miss. After the last one, you wouldn't have imagined there was anywhere to go but up. Well think again, diehard horror fan, and waste ninety minutes doing something, anything, else.

Werewolf By Night (2022) - Cobwebs just look better in black and white. Strong lead performances make this more enjoyable than it might have been without them. It's a surprising curio from Marvel and an homage to the genre which is unusually contemporary in its faux tradition. As a Halloween special, it is a treat that could have been bloody awful, instead of just bloody. Would have really appreciated a feature length version, to allow for some character arcs to be developed, but this has serious legs, should Marvel choose to expand.

Revealer (2022) - Hoping to take advantage of the good feelings flowing towards Stranger Things, this Shudder original, loosely based around the apocalypse, takes all of the spare neon and hairspray it could find it threw it at us. The eighties synthesizer score is appropriate even if it is in no way original. The performances from the leads are good, but only compared to what they are featuring in and what else was available at the time. Budget conscious, this is a decent stab at something Chicken Soup might well have produced. It struggles mostly with its plot and pacing, delivering a decent start which then slowly and painfully dawdles to its conclusion. Full marks for effort, at least. If only it had the quality to go with it.

VHS/99 (2022) - As one of those who shouted loudest when the original VHS anthology was released, I must admit to becoming a little jaded with the concept and iterations over time. As a vehicle to bring some of the greatest horror shorts to a larger audience, the idea is sound and admirable. This only remains true if the quality of what is presented is worth the trouble of its inclusion, however. Whilst this does contain the odd highlight, the majority of the content here seems unworthy of what I understood the philosophy of VHS to be.

Black Adam (2022) - I firmly believe that there is only so much a turd can be polished. In the same vein, there is a limit to what we can reasonably expect from Dwayne Johnson. A collection of action comedies and candy floss catch-all room-fillers does not an 'actor' make. That is the responsibility of a good producer and marketing manager. A step too far for Johnson and the audience tasked with swallowing this. Adventurous and action-packed, yet at the same time, completely tedious and devoid of any real soul to speak of, delivered similarly. Johnson may well be better than this, but not much better. Let's not expect miracles, or Oscars.

Juniper (2021) - Accomplished performance from Rampling as always. Hard to fault her, in fact. The rest of the cast are just making up numbers. The premise is an unusual, rarely visited one - of Grandmother and Grandson. Neither are typical, but both equally believable nonetheless. Unhurried and considered throughout, this is a rewarding watch, even if it is bereft of adventure.

Infinite Storm (2022) - Watts is great and all that (let's be honest, she usually is, she loves a good struggle), and whilst it is based on a true story, do you really, REALLY need to climb a mountain out of grief? Shot beautifully and authentically, the storm really never stops, overriding everything else and you get the feeling you've been blown away just watching it. Maybe not quite how the film-makers would have hoped, but blown away nonetheless. My ex-wife would have killed this role.

Where The Crawdads Sing (2022) - When the body of a man ends up at the foot of a tower in the marshes, it becomes clear that he had something to do with Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones), the notorious 'Marsh Girl' who has lived on her own in the area for more than a decade since the death of her father and the alleged abandonment by her mother. Not the vehicle I would have imagined the next Daisy step to be, but a still sweet, delightful Sunday afternoon relaxathon. It's drags a bit too often, but it is accomplished and beautiful to look at.

The Exorcist (1973) - "When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter." Let's face it, even the fashion was frightening. What ended up being Linda Blair's defining role and the best mushy peas ever committed to film. Seen through modern eyes, this seems scarier to be a part of than to watch, given Friedkin's notorious scare tactics on set to make the shock reactions look authentic. This was notorious at the time, but only in certain, more conservative circles, due to the bad language and the implied repeated abuse of genitalia which said more about its audience's overly lascivious imagination than the makers intentions.

Help (2021) - Harrowing portrayal of the lives of workers in a fictional Liverpudlian care home, both pre and during Covid, focusing on the relationship with a new care worker (Jodie Comer)

and early-onset dementia sufferer (Stephen Graham). Despite this being filled with great one-liners, this is not being played for comedy, rather in spite of the suffering that you just have to live through and smile regardless. Whilst the care home may be imaginary, the problems are not and, furthermore, continue. A tragedy that continues to be all too real.

The Amityville Horror (1979) - Having been denied access to the real residence at 112 Ocean Avenue by the Amityville authorities, a private residence that had been especially converted was used instead. Can't really blame them, imagining that it might not do much for the tourist trade. Little did they know the house would be practically copied in entirety and the darker side of humanity would turn up looking for the house anyway. There is only thing more frightening than a horror movie that is possible to happen, and that is one that actually happened. No wonder this truly uncomfortable effort raised so many hackles and the hair on the back of quite so many necks.


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