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Review: Setup

We are introduced to three robbers and long-time acquaintances who have just pulled off a heist and coming away with about $5 million in diamonds. Ryan Phillippe plays the hothead of the gang, Brett Granstaff is the nice guy with a new wife, and 50 Cent is Granstaff’s loyal best friend. After the robbery, one (Phillippe) ends up betraying the other two, killing one of them (Granstaff), and leaving the other (guess who) for dead too. But 50 Cent ain’t dead, though he sure as hell is mad and sets about tracking down his elusive former friend and killing him. Meanwhile, a polite Iranian hitman (Shaun Taub) is tracking both 50 and Phillippe down. He wants the diamonds, and he absolutely means business. 50 Cent’s quest sees him get involved with some mobsters whom Phillippe has apparently been hanging with, and eventually he is brought to the attention of mobster Bruce Willis. Willis doesn’t much like 50 fiddling around in his territory, but agrees to help him find Phillippe if he and body…

Review: The Thing (2011)

In 1982, palaeontologist Mary Elizabeth Winstead is abruptly called upon to join a team of Norwegian scientists to a station in the Antarctic. Apparently an otherworldly discovery has been made, buried in ice for a hundred thousand years. Soon they also uncover an alien creature similarly buried in ice, which they take back to their base for study. The ice melts, the creature springs to life and proceeds to bump off the scientists and accompanying chopper pilots one by one. Apparently it is able to absorb human bodies and duplicate them, making it difficult to tell who is human and who is not. Let the paranoia begin! Joel Edgerton and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje play pilots, Ulrich Thomsen is the head scientist of the expedition, with Eric Christian Olsen his assistant.


Although it boasts an interesting concept, I’ve never been a fan of this story. The original 1951 film “The Thing from Another World” was a crushing bore, John Carpenter’s celebrated 1982 remake “The Thing” boasted great F…

Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

9 year-old Bailee Madison (well, the actress is 11 but playing 9) joins her distracted dad Guy Pearce and his girlfriend Katie Holmes at Blackwood Manor, which Pearce (an architect) and Holmes (an interior decorator) are restoring. Madison is a troubled young thing who feels neglected by her mother and she treats the well-meaning Holmes rather horribly. And then Madison uncovers a hidden cellar and starts to hear voices from a grating. Caretaker Jack Thompson warns the girl to stay away from it. Yeah, that’ll happen. And tiny creatures begin to appear, and start to scare the living crap out of the poor girl. Aaawww, she was just looking for a friend! No one believes her stories, especially her rather distant dad, but Holmes can at least see something is wrong here, and starts investigating the background of the house. Garry McDonald appears in the nasty 19th Century prologue as a previous owner of Blackwood who does something unspeakable to his maid.

Filmed in Australia, this 2011 hor…

Review: The Vicious Circle

Doctor Sir John Mills gets a call from a supposed friend (an American film producer) who asks him to do him a favour and meet German actress Lisa Danicly at the airport. Tagging along is the reporter (Lionel Jeffries) he has only just met. After the deed is done, the good doctor attends the opera with his fiancé Noelle Middleton and friends. When he returns to his flat, he finds the German woman dead, on the floor. He calls Scotland Yard, but is horrified when the Inspector (dependable Roland Culver) points the finger squarely at Mills. The murder weapon is found in the boot of his car, and even his alibi fails to hold up. Someone is surely setting him up (the phone call soon appears to have been a set-up), but who? And who is this mystery man (played by a sinister Wilfrid Hyde-White) who can apparently prove the doctor’s alibi? Derek Farr plays Mills’ somewhat Caddish friend, Mervyn Johns another doctor.
These Hitchcockian ‘Innocent Man’-type stories always have me hooked, and this 1…

Review: Stone (1974)

Spaced-out biker Toad (Hugh Keays-Byrne) witnesses the assassination of a politician at an environmental rally, and as a result, members of the Grave Diggers bikie gang (which Toad belongs to) start getting bumped off. The gang reluctantly allows undercover cop Stone (Ken Shorter) to join so that he can better investigate the murders and hopefully apprehend the killer. But only after he saves the lives of a few of their brethren from a gunman. He looks enough like a hippie biker to begin with that his police colleagues think he’s a weirdo. Sandy Harbutt turns up as The Undertaker, the leader of the gang. Vincent Gil is the bizarre Dr. Death, Helen Morse is Stone’s worried girlfriend, and Roger Ward plays bikie Hooks. Bill Hunter turns up in a small role as a bartender. Future “Mother and Son” sitcom star (and the future Norman Gunston) Garry McDonald plays a mechanic, in one scene.


This 1974 Aussie biker movie from director (and co-star) Sandy Harbutt is pretty cheesy and slow-moving …

Review: The Reef

Damian Walshe-Howling, his best mate Gyton Grantley, his ex- girlfriend (and Grantley’s sister) Zoe Naylor, and Grantley’s girlfriend Adrienne Pickering are setting out to explore the Great Barrier Reef. With deckhand Kieran Darcy-Smith also on board, much snorkelling and such ensues. For a while. The boat hits some coral and ends up capsized and beginning to sink. Darcy-Smith (an experienced fisherman) wants to stay by the boat and hope for the best, not liking Walshe-Howling’s alternative of swimming to what looks like it might be an island that might only be a few km’s away. Grantley and Pickering aren’t strong swimmers, either. And then there’s the possibility of nasty creatures of the deep looking for their ‘noon feeding’ to quote a certain cinematic shark expert I trust I don’t need to identify. After a bit of debate, Darcy-Smith still stubbornly refuses to leave, but the other three decide that swimming is their best option and they head out. Naturally a shark turns up and the …

Review: In Time

Set in the future where humans are genetically engineered to live to 25 and “Logan’s Run” is apparently played on a loop. OK, so I made that second part up. After you turn 25, you only have one more year to live, unless you ‘buy’ more time. Instead of money, everything in life is bought with time as its currency, which is pretty sweet if you’re wealthy. Justin Timberlake and his mother Olivia Wilde (!) aren’t so fortunate, having to live day by day. Timberlake comes into good fortune, however, when a time-rich stranger gives Timberlake a whole lot of his time, before the gangsters after him rub the guy out. Meanwhile, when bus fares suddenly go up whilst Wilde’s time is low, tragedy strikes. Timberlake is living the high life winning big at a casino (gambling with his life, literally) and meeting the beautiful Amanda Seyfried, when a timekeeper (cop) played by Cillian Murphy comes to investigate the aforementioned stranger’s death and Timberlake’s sudden great fortune. He goes on the …

Review: Howling II: Stirba- Werewolf Bitch

Set shortly after the events of the first film, Reb Brown plays the brother of Dee Wallace Stone’s doomed reporter, as he tries to work out what happened to her (Didn’t he see the news?). He is joined by reporter girlfriend Annie McEnroe and a werewolf hunter/occult expert named Stefan Crosscoe (Christopher Lee), who claims the dead woman must be given a titanium stake to the heart (Not wooden, not silver, but titanium!) or else she’ll rise again as a vamp...er...undead werewolf, I guess. Meanwhile, Sybil Danning stars as an ancient werewolf queen named Stirba, who is holding a werewolf orgy in Transylvania. No, I’m not kidding. Judd Omen plays Stirba’s offsider/minion, whilst musician Jimmy Nail and European genre actor Ferdy Mayne have small parts.

The sequels to “The Howling” got seriously weird and have for many tarnished the name of the first film, which I consider to be the best werewolf movie ever made, alongside the 1941 film “The Wolf Man”. This 1985 film from Aussie director…

Review: Cut and Run

Lisa Blount is a shonky TV reporter who is somewhere in South America with her cameraman (Leonard Mann) looking for Willie Aames, son of her boss Richard Bright. Aames was photographed with Colonel Horne (Richard Lynch, as a kind of Col. Kurtz character), a former associate of cult leader Jim Jones who was believed to have died at the Jonestown massacre. Blount decides to kill two birds with one stone by trying to find Col. Horne for an interview, whilst also hopefully locating Aames in the process. Meanwhile, we come across Aames, who along with the pretty Valentina Forte, is currently in the employ of drug dealer John Steiner, but is about to attempt an escape. Michael Berryman appears as the leader of a band of savages who attack John Steiner and his men. Eriq La Salle plays a pimp (!), and Karen Black is a TV news producer.


This 1985 exploitation flick is my first taste ofRuggero Deodato (director of the infamous “Cannibal Holocaust”), and although I’m pretty sure the version I sa…

Review: How Do You Know?

Paul Rudd is a decent, well-meaning corporate exec who may be facing jail time if an internal investigation into stock fraud uncovers any wrongdoing on his part. His boss is also his father (Jack Nicholson), whose reassurances aren’t very reassuring, largely because dear old dad is clearly the guilty party and he knows dad ain’t taking the fall. On this very day he finds himself on a date with cute softballer Reese Witherspoon, and manages to make a bollocks of it, understandably being distracted and frankly depressed. Witherspoon, meanwhile, is cut from her team for being too old (early 30s!), and is kinda in a relationship with a douchy baseball player (Owen Wilson) who seems to think his philandering should just be accepted as one of his charming little quirks. Seriously, the guy’s a dickhead, albeit well-meaning, and a completely oblivious narcissist to boot. Meanwhile, a frankly drunk Rudd decides to give Witherspoon another call, makes a bad second impression, and then they some…

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Daniel Craig plays a disgraced journalist in Sweden employed by rich retiree Christopher Plummer to write his biography. However, he has another reason: He wants Craig to find out which member of his family was responsible for killing his niece in 1964. The girl went missing, but her body was never found and is assumed to be dead. It’s a cold case that Plummer has never been able to find peace with, and he truly believes a member of his own eccentric family (which includes the odd Nazi) is involved. To help Craig in his investigation, he hires a bisexual, troubled computer hacker (Rooney Mara) to be his research assistant. Stellan Skarsgaard plays Plummer’s nephew and the missing girl’s brother who now runs the family (big) business. Steven Berkoff is Plummer’s lawyer who puts Craig in contact with Mara. Robin Wright plays Craig’s boss and lover, Joely Richardson is another relative of Plummer’s, and Julian Sands appears in flashbacks as Plummer’s younger self. Embeth Davidtz gets eve…

Review: Under the Rainbow

International spies (including Nazi Billy Barty and Oriental Mako) clash with hard partying midgets staying at Adam Arkin’s hotel during the filming of “The Wizard of Oz”. Chevy Chase is an American Secret Service agent, Robert Donner plays an assassin, Joseph Maher the Duke whom Chase is assigned to protect (with Eve Arden as the Duchess), and Carrie Fisher is in charge of the little people during filming. Lots of well-known little people (Zelda Rubenstein, Tony Cox, Phil Fondacaro, Felix Silla, and Debbie Lee Carrington) fill out the smallest parts (hey, it’s that kind of movie, OK?).


Regarded by some to be one of the worst and most offensive comedies of all-time (and it might be one of the flops that contributed to the collapse of Orion Pictures), this 1980 Steve Rash (“The Buddy Holly Story”) slapstick farce actually isn’t all that bad. Well, kinda. Yes, it has one of the worst premises in any movie I’ve seen, but that kinda makes it funny, in my view. I mean, they’re really tryin…

Review: Elephant White

Djimon Hounsou stars as Church a stoic hired killer and former CIA assassin, who is in Thailand on the job of mowing down a gang of human traffickers who were responsible for the death of the daughter of a Thai businessman. He is aided in this quest by somewhat unscrupulous arms dealer Kevin Bacon. Church is also joined by drug-addicted teenage hooker Mae (Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul), despite his best efforts to rid himself of her to focus on his assignment.

Filmed in Bangkok, Thailand, this 2011 action flick from director Prachya Pinkaew (an English-language debut for the director of the excellent “Ong-Bak”, and the lesser “The Protector”) and writer Kevin Bernhardt is the kind of thing that in terms of plot could’ve starred any has-been action star, and in terms of location, could easily have passed for a Tony Jaa (“Ong-Bak”, “The Protector”) movie. Instead, we get Djimon Hounsou, who has presence and is good enough to suggest he deserves his own action movie. Just not this one, whi…