Review – 31 (2016)

Set during summer in the 70’s the story follows a group of travelling carnival workers. After passing through a small rural town they’re abducted and awake to discover that they’re the latest contestants in a game of “31”. Under the instruction of mysterious people in powdered wigs (led by Malcolm McDowell), the workers are equipped with a weapon each and have to survive 12 hours in a desolate warehouse tricked out with tricks, traps and half a dozen weapon wielding blood thirsty clowns!

I don’t normally follow Rob Zombies work, especially after watching The Lords of Salem – but my pal explaining the plot sold me on it; “Folk get kidnapped and forced to a running man type game against clowns”. I love these competition/survival themes in film (Battle Royale, The Condemned) it always hooks my attention – my only worry was how scary were the clowns!

Set during the seventies it was only right that Zombie treats this feature with the full Grind-house/Video Nasty treatment. The score to the film is excellent it reminds me of Escape from New York and Planet Terror; dropping those deep notes coming from an electric keyboard. Even the sound effects are turned up to 11, the sounds of people chowing down on succulent ribs to being struck in the gut with a spiked baseball bat – everything sounds extra squishy.

Zombies camera work comes across as intimate and intense, close, close shots of our heroes faces as they’re being hunted and attacked. The only downside when they’re under attack the footage becomes shaken and disorientating after a while. There’s only so much footage shaky of Sheri Moon Zombie one can handle. Whilst we’re talking about what I didn’t like, the acting at the start was a little cringe-worthy, just all the Rasta stuff was hammy – but by the time the cast of characters were in jeopardy everyone become very serious.

The collection killer clowns that are on display were surprisingly diverse, the midget wielding blades, chainsaw twins and our main antagonist; Doom-Head (Richard Brake) is a very intense character, his transformation from man to Doom leaves you frothing with anticipation on his first kill. You know nothing good could come from this man, although that was obvious after the films opening monologue.

Overall, I find myself enjoying the film more after watching it – it was good, nothing great – but just such a fun concept that can easily capture a persons imagination – who expected to see a midget dressed up like a knife wielding Hispanic Hitler or Malcolm McDowell in a powdered wig! It is defiantly worth watching for movie fans, essentially for Rob Zombie fans.

Rating: 4/5


31 is in cinemas from Friday 23rd Sept. 2016 and on VOD from Friday 23rd Sept. 2016.

Blu-ray Reviews – Dead End Drive-In (1986)

Set in a neon-lit futuristic Australia where the economy has collapsed and the cities have turned into wastelands with their dwellers becoming scavengers. Amongst they bleak neon-lit future we have Jimmy (Ned Manning), a young man who is keen to grow big and help his older, bigger brother Frank scavenge scrap metal from car wrecks. On his night off, Jimmy convinces Frank to loan him his chevy to take his girl, Carmen (Natalie McCurry) to the drive-in for a movie and hopefully a cheeky make-out session.

Whilst Jimmy’s getting lucky with Carmen in the back of the chevy, the pair are sudden thrown – two wheels have been nicked from Franks Chevy. When approaching the Drive-in Manager to complain he explains to Jimmy; That’s it, you belong here now – there’s no way out. You’re trapped here, just like everyone else.

Brian Trenchard-Smith delivers us a giant slice of Ozploitation, a genre I wasn’t familiar with – but it makes sense that Mad Max may have kick started a new genre of actions films. My initial thoughts was, Christ the acting is a bit ropey in this – for example the gang of blokes hanging around the cinema bathrooms – trying to recruit Jimmy, it is a little cringe-worthy. But as the film rolls on, it turned out to be a lot of fun – the production value and sets were excellent, the opening sequences reminded me of films like Robocop and Escape from New York.

I just ate the story up! I loved the concept getting trapped in the Drive-in at night and by morning they’ve woken up in a wasteland, a concentration camp littered with scrapped cars. Jimmy is quite a relateable, sensible character – he wants out of this prison! Whilst everyone else just accepts it, they just drink it in – accept their place, take the free drugs, drink the free beer and give up any resistance. I was properly rooting for Jimmy and his great escape.

Dead End Drive-In is receiving the Arrow treatment celebrating its 30 year anniversary since its original release. Special Features on the release are funny, we’re given two documentaries – neither are on Dead End Drive-In, but they are early features from director Brian Trenchard-Smith – including a great series of candid interviews with Australian Stuntmen. We’re also given a photo diary from one of the graffiti artists who had their arsed saved by Dead End Drive-In. Other than the Theatrical Trailer we’re given a full audio commentary from Brian and here’s great to listen to plenty of stories and passion about Dead End Drive-In.

Overall a rough little gem that snuck out from the land down-under and it shouldn’t be ignored!

Movie: 4/5

Blu-ray: 3/5

Dead End Drive-In (Blu-ray): 7/10


Dead-End Drive-In – on Blu-Ray and DVD on 19 September 2016

DVD Review – Matinee (1993)

Set during 1962 amongst the chaos of Cuban Missile Crisis, Matinee tells the tale of shock director Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), the man behind several low budget black & white monster movies. The cigar chopping Woolsey travels from town-to-town with his patent ‘Atomo-vision’, an interactive movie experience which is used to fullest with his latest creature feature; MANT (Half Man, Half Ant!).

Whilst Woolsey isn’t as successful as the likes of Hitchcock, his previous work has capture the imagination of Gene (Simon Fenton). Gene and his brother live on a military base with their mother whilst their father is away with the navy. To escape their forever changing lives, they spend weekends watching monster matinees at his local theatre, much to the chagrin his little brother. IT is revealed that Woosly is coming to town and he’s bringing MANT with him – threat of nuclear missiles, teenagers and scary movies – what’s the worst that can happen?

I vaguely remember Matinee from my childhood, after being introduced to the likes of Gremlins from a young age, I have to imagine that Matinee was fed to me shortly after. I had memories of earthquakes, ant creatures and a balcony collapsing, when seeing promotional media for Matinee being published by Arrow – the film came flooding back in waves and I knew I had to revisit this ‘classic’.

The whole threat of nuclear warfare is a strange plot to have running in the background of the movie, but it makes sense at the time and clues in the gimmicks of Woosleys picture. The focus of the story is aimed more at teenage children, maybe young adults. Fans of John Goodman and maybe Richard Piccardo (the theatre owner) would eat this up. The focus of the film hangs around the children, making friends/fitting in at school, talking with girls and the chances of getting laid if country was on the brink of nuclear fallout. Kids stuff, right?

John Goodmans character is really the best part of Matinee, I loved every part of his character – for example the trailers teasing his features; it always shows him sucking on a cigar and his passion for the theatrical. His Atomo-vision and Rumble Rama is what all major cinema chains offer nowadays; 4D, DBOX etc.

Arrow provided us with a copy of Matinee on DVD for review. With over 80 minutes worth of special features on this release. Arrow produced new interviews with Joe Dante and various recurring actors, a making of feature w/ John Hora and Marshall Harvey. There is also a lengthy interview with Joe Dante taken from a French release of the film from 2011. Amongst the behind/deleted/extended scenes we’re given the complete feature of; MANT!, a six minute introduction from Dante and all of the footage shown originally in the background of the film is edited clearly into a 15 minute film along with the trailer shown in the film too.

Film: 3/5

DVD: 4/5

Matinee (DVD) – 7/10


EP 113 – The Thing (1982)

We’re gonna draw a little bit of everybody’s blood… ’cause we’re gonna find out who’s The Thing.