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Jaws 3 (DVD) 25/09/2017


Jaws 3 (DVD) Given the incredible success of the first Jaws movie, and make no mistake it remains a stone cold classic to this day, it isn't all that much of a shock that 3 sequels followed, though the time between them is. Jaws 2, a thoroughly watchable sequel in its own right, hit in 1978, 4 years after Spielberg's original, and it would be a further 5 years before we got the next instalment of Brody Vs. Shark. Right in the midst of the 80s 3D boom no less. The film now follows the adult Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid) an underwater engineer helping prepare a new Sea World theme park with his dolphin training significant other Kay (Bess Armstrong). This is no ordinary Sea World though, under the guidance of manager Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett Jr.) they are launching a revolutionary new feature called 'The Undersea Kingdom' a giant man-made lagoon connected to the sea through a series of tunnels that features a host of attractions and restaurants 40ft below the surface. Mike's kid brother Sean (John Putch) comes to visit for the opening, which also features an appearance from Tv personality and big game hunter Philip FitzRoyce (Simon MacCorkindale) however it soon turns out there is another special guest, of the Great White variety, who snuck into the lagoon during maintenance of the gate separating the lagoon from the Ocean. Soon this shark is captured and Bouchard wants it on display. The hastily constructed exhibit proves insufficient and the shark dies. However, as soon the park ...

The Toxic Avenger (DVD) 24/09/2017

Not Entirely Hazardous

The Toxic Avenger (DVD) Released in 1984, The Toxic Avenger would strike the first blow in Director/Producer combo Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz' assault on cinema otherwise known as Troma pictures. Quite easily Troma's biggest hit, the Toxic Avenger would become the cornerstone of the company's, er, success, and would set the tone for the majority of their output to come. The movie opens by introducing us to Melvyn (Mark Torgl) the hapless janitor at the Tromaville Health club. Melvyn is the victim of bullying by gym patrons and serial Hit & Run murderers Bozo (Gary Schneider) and Slug (Robert Prichard) and their girlfriends. One of these pranks goes too far, leading to Melvyn being dowsed in toxic waste, mutating him into a hulking but deformed giant (Mitch Cohen) Soon the super strong Melvyn finds himself drawn to crime scenes, where he dishes out his own brand of extreme justice, often with lethal results. It's at one of these incidents he first meets Sara (Andree Maranda) a blind woman whose guide dog is killed during a shoot out at a Taco restaurant with whom he soon hits it off with, and it isn't long until she moves in with him in his junkyard home. As Melvyn succeeds in cleaning up the streets of Tromaville, he finds himself in the crosshairs of the city's corrupt Mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan) and his cohorts, as well as Bozo and Slug, whose rampage has been brought to a halt by his assault on crime. Will he succeed in his quest to clean up Tromaville? The Toxic Avenger is something of ...

The Relic (DVD) 22/09/2017

Worth Keeping

The Relic (DVD) Released in 1997, Peter Hyams' The Relic is both a departure from the action movies I associated with Hyams and also the type of horror movies that populated screens as the turn of the century drew closer. Following Chicago cop D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore), The Relic sees the lieutenant thrust into an unusual and gruesome murder case when a ship floats into the docks with its entire crew slaughtered, with the hypothalamus region of their brains ripped out. Shortly afterwards, the Natural history museum receives a shipment of crates from the very same cargo freighter. These have been sent from a researcher who is unaccounted for following a mission in the Brazilian rainforest, and with the exception of a statue of a mythical beast known as the Kothoga, all they contain is leafs covered with a mysterious fungus. It becomes apparent the two incidents are connected when a security guard at the museum is found dead, with his hypothalamus ripped out. D'Agosta has to join forces with Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Anne Miller) who believes the leaves may hold the answer to the mystery. They will need to solve it quickly as Chicago's finest are all due at the museum for the grand opening of a new display, which has the statue of the Kothoga as its centrepiece... I'd be lying if I said I remember The Relic coming out, it must have had a short, possibly non-existent run in UK cinemas. I wouldn't have been old enough to see it anyway, but this kind of creature feature is the type of ...

Jaws 2 (DVD) 21/09/2017


Jaws 2 (DVD) In this day and age, when a movie can have a sequel announced before the first had even wrapped filming, it's crazy to think a blockbuster like Jaws ran 4 years before a follow up hit our screens. In the intervening years your standard knock off merchants had managed to portray literally ever other denizen of the Ocean as a ruthless killer in an attempt to cash in on the success of Jaws, with mixed results, and it was only a matter of time before Universal got in on the act themselves. With director Steven Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss preoccupied with Close Encounters, a seemingly revolving door of directors were brought in ending with Jeannot Szwarc to lead a returning Roy Scheider and supporting cast into action. 4 years on from being terrorised by 25-foot Great White Shark, the idealic seaside resort of Amity Island is finally starting to return to some form of normality. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) has even secured the Island a deal for a luxury hotel on the beach with developer Len Peterson (Joseph Mascolo) with a bit of help from Lorraine Brody (Lorraine Gary). However, as people start to go missing at sea, and a Killer Whale washes up with a chunk bitten out of it, convincing police Chief Brody (Schieder) that the Great White Shark he killed 4 years ago may have a friend looking to pick up where he left off. Unfortunately a Vaughn and Peterson led local council refuse to listen to him, eventually firing him for causing a scene on a beach. Despite his ...

Wolfen (DVD) 20/09/2017

The forgotten member of the 80s Wolfpack

Wolfen (DVD) Released in the same year as An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, Wolfen almost got lost in the shuffle in what seemed to be a mini-boom in werewolf based popularity. It boasts the interesting sidenote that it is director Michael Wadleigh's only feature film, he is more famous for his role in ensuring Woodstock took place, and so set on his vision of the picture, he rejected Dustin Hoffman's appeals for the lead role. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, the movie follows New York City detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) as he find himself drawn into a case involving a series of strange deaths that look like an unusual cross between murder and animal attacks. He is assigned a new partner in the form of Detective Neff (Diane Venora) as the deaths include a wealthy potential presidential hopeful, and the case is something of a priority. It soon becomes clear that the perpetrators of the killings are not human. The killings also seem to take place around an abandoned series of buildings due to be demolished. The investigation leads them to former radical Native American rights activist Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) who taunts Wilson with the notion he can shapeshift into animals. Animal specialist Ferguson (Tom Noonan) states that the evidence points to an unknown breed of wolf, but also that it would be highly out of character for Wolves to perpetrate attacks like these. As the investigation continues, it becomes clear that while the creatures on the ...

Puppet Master (DVD) 19/09/2017

Pulls The Strings

Puppet Master (DVD) While it may be predated by his 1987 picture Dolls, Puppet Master is often cited as the genesis of producer and Full Moon pictures honcho Charles Band's obsession with killer toys. Certainly it's his most successful, with the franchise now over 15 movies strong. The movie opens during World War II, where World renowned puppet master Andre Toulon (William Hickey) is holed up in Bodega Bay Inn on the California coast hiding from the Nazis. The Axis are in pursuit of the seemingly harmless and gentle Toulon because he has discovered the secret to bringing inanimate objects to life, namely his pain-stakingly crafted puppets. With the Nazis closing in, Toulon commits suicide and hides his puppets in the hotel. The movie jumps forward 50 years and we are introduced to a group of psychics led by lecturer Alex (Paul Le Mat) and including couple Frank (Matt Roe) & Carlissa (Kathryn O'Reilly) and palm reader Dana (Irene Miracle) they all receive psychic messages from fellow gifted one Neil (Jimmie F. Scaggs) to come to the Bodega Bay Inn. The group all rush there, only to be informed by Neil's wife Megan (Robin Frates) that Neil recently committed suicide. The longer they stay at the hotel, the stranger things get. Each of their psychic powers are triggered in frightening ways, and slowly but surely people start to go missing. It appears Toulon's puppets have been unleashed, and are themselves letting loose 50 years worth of pent up aggression. The psychics must work out exactly ...

The Fog (DVD) 18/09/2017

Class shines through

The Fog (DVD) Often overlooked in favour of some of his more lucrative works, The Fog is very much John Carpenter at his best. He's one of a handful of directors I'll actively go out of my way to watch the output of, and while he has made the odd mid-step, when he hits form, it tends earn a place amongst my favourite movies. Set in the small coastal town of Antonio Bay as its Centenary is about to be celebrated, we meet Californian hitchhiker Elizabeth (Jamie Leigh Curtis) who is passing through town and picked up by local resident Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) just as strange things start happening in Antonio Bay. As the clocks strike 12 they smash, car alarms start to go off for no reason and a mysterious bank of fog starts to approach from sea. Proceedings are overlooked with a running commentary by local lighthouse based DJ Stevie (Adrienne Barbeau) a smooth talking single mother and voice of the town. The strange events take a turn for the sinister when local fishermen start to go missing. As Nick and Elizabeth search for clues, local Priest Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) may have uncovered the answers they seek hidden in the depths of the church... The Fog is interesting and somewhat unique for a 1980s horror picture, even when placed alongside Carpenter's other genre outings, in that while it includes some gruesome demises, it is neither a brainless slasher nor an exercise in extreme gore - this is very much an old fashioned ghost story given a modern makeover in Carpenter's own ...

Jaws (DVD) 17/09/2017

J-Awe Inspiring

Jaws (DVD) Jaws is the type of movie that in this day and age we almost take for granted. I couldn't tell you what age I was when I first seen it, the film's iconic status ensures everyone knows what Jaws is about, everyone knows that John Williams score and everyone knows that they're going to need a bigger boat. The film's plot has been retread to the point that even if you haven't seen Jaws, chances are you've seen a film with a plot derived from it. Former New York City cop Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) has relocated his family to the idealic seaside resort of Amity Island despite his disdain for all things watery. Everything is going smoothly until locals start disappearing around the beach, which leads Brody to the conclusion a killer shark is picking off the Islanders. Despite Brody's protestations, Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) refuses to close the beach with the 4th of July looming, with disastrous results. Left shaken, Brody turns to marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and the 3 set out to sea on a mission to catch the biggest fish of all. Based upon the novel by Peter Benchley, director Steven Spielberg rather widely discards a lot of the novel's unnecessary side-plots, involving affairs and the mafia, and presents us with a stripped back plot that allows its characters to breath. Indeed it could be said that half of the movie is just the set piece of the shark-hunt, played out with only the 3 hunters for company, but ...

WWF Wrestlemania 2000 (N64) 10/09/2017

Let's All Beat Up in the Year 2000

WWF Wrestlemania 2000 (N64) When discussing the merits of any video games console the amount of ‘killer apps’, titles exclusive to the machine worth owning it for, featured is always one of the main categories debated. While almost every console released by Japanese stalwarts Nintendo would see these lists dominated by games released by Nintendo themselves, their late 1990s foray into 3D the Nintendo 64 would include some potential eyebrow raisers in its list of system ‘best ofs’. In addition to movie tie-in Goldeneye 007, it’s hard to find any list of the N64’s finest hours that doesn’t include one of THQ/AKI’s wrestling games from the turn of the century. Now sports games in general are often shunned by gaming enthusiasts, and wrestling games normally given a specially reserved level of derision. However 1999 was a different time, and while sports games still saw self-proclaimed ‘hardcore’ gamers turn up their nose at the FIFAs, NHLs and so on, there were 2 factors that ensured that wrestling games given more time; firstly that it was when the ‘sport’ was in the midst of its ‘Attitude’ era, where it basically took over popular culture for a few years and secondly the fact that this was in the days before wrestling games were churned out on an annual basis with minimal updates or effort. It was into this age that WWF Wrestlemania 2000 was unleashed onto the world, 5 months before the televised event that would share its name in fact. While WWF were almost always the top dogs when it came to ...

Super Mario 64 (N64) 26/08/2017


Super Mario 64 (N64) Released in 1996 as one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64 console, Super Mario 64 holds the distinction of being not only the first Mario title to make the transition into three dimensions, but also one of the first fully 3D platform games to see release on mainstream videogame consoles. Mario had been Nintendo’s standard bearer for 2 consoles and a handheld system, and while there were various spin-offs of various standards of quality, the main series titles were always bastions of extreme quality, with Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World all widely regarded as some of the finest videogames ever to see release. It’s safe to say there was a degree of pressure upon Nintendo to release something of an equally high standard as they made the leap into the brave new world of 3D. The best-selling game released on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 is a game that was packaged with almost every N64 machine sold, which is how I personally came into possession of it. My parents had been iron-willed in their refusal to buy me a new games console following the demise of my Sega Megadrive, and it reached a point where I had to take matters into my own hands, and following a combination of birthday money and what seemed like an eternity of saving pocket money I found myself with enough funds to purchase a Nintendo 64, which came with today’s subject, alongside forgettable racing title Top Gear Overdrive. While this may cause purists to heave, at the time I ...

Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. (N64) 25/08/2017


Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. (N64) In the years when the success of Mortal Kombat started to wane, its producers Midway tried repeatedly to try and recapture the magic that made it one of the most successful videogame franchises of all time. The majority of these attempts failed and have been forgotten, mainly due to either misinterpreting what it was that actually made Mortal Kombat such a success or failing to appreciate that the same things that shocked and awed in the early 1990s would not have the same effect later in the decade. One such example was 1998’s BioF.R.E.A.K.S a fighting game that took the unusual, for the time, route of bypassing arcades and going directly to home consoles, in this case the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. The latter was a console that was criminally short on fighting games, and Midway were the one main purveyors of the genre that seemed to take a chance on Nintendo’s machine. Set in the dystopian future of ‘Neo-Amerika’ where huge companies vie for control of the country in an underground fighting contest utilising synthetic humanoids specifically tailored for combat. From humans augmented by technology, full-on robots and monstrous biological creations, these beings are collectively referred to as BioF.R.E.A.K.S. with that acronym standing for Biological Flying Robotic Enhanced Armored Killing Synthoids. I won’t be using it again in this review for the sake of my sanity. While the plot, which sees the 8 selectable fighters (with 2 bosses) that range from militaristic ...

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64) 23/08/2017

Leave it hidden in the Shadows

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64) While in this day and age Star Wars is a brand you’ll find with an overwhelming presence in literally every field, with everything from stationary to foodstuffs available bearing the visage of one of the series’ recognisable faces, there was a point in the early 1990s when George Lucas’ media-dominating trilogy was going through somewhat of a lean spell, by its illustrious standards anyway, in the public eye. We were a decade removed from the release of Return of the Jedi, the last movie released in the original trilogy, yet still a few years off the development of the much-maligned prequel series beginning. While there was the odd foray into the world of videogames, by large Star Wars was nowhere near the pop cultural juggernaut it was following the immediate release of the movies or that it is now. You could say the turning point was toy company Hasbro deciding to re-introduce the main cast of Star Wars to toy shelves in 1995. While a release of ‘Special Editions’ of the original trilogy, which saw new and alternate scenes added with CGI, was imminent, the truth is that this toy line seemed somewhat spontaneous and to those of us that grew up with older siblings and a familiarity with the characters, it was great to finally own our own Darth Vaders and Luke Skywalkers. The success of this line, both with older collectors and kids seemed to strike a chord with Lucasfilm, and it wouldn’t be long until Star Wars was on track to taking over popular culture once again. Easily ...

Deadly Arts (N64) 22/08/2017


Deadly Arts (N64) The Nintendo 64 was a funny old console, notably for several reasons. It was simultaneously the first mainstream console to feature 4 controller ports and also the last to use the cartridge format for software in the face of the CD-ROM revolution. It featured ground-breaking 3D adventure Super Mario 64. The 4 controller ports lent themselves to a series of fantastic ‘party’ games like Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. It also somehow managed to exist for 6 years without the release of a good 1-on-1 fighting game. I’ll never understand why Capcom, who had been such strong supporters of the NES and Super NES consoles, eschewed the Nintendo 64 as they did, but it is quite probably the only mainstream console released post 1992 which didn’t feature a Streetfighter game. Namco were very much in bed with Sony’s PlayStation, Sega obviously weren’t up for making games on a rival machine and out of that the only other major player in the fighting game world, SNK were unusually absent. A number of other developers did try their hand at bringing one of gaming’s most traditional genres to the Nintendo 64. Of them all, today’s subject, the comically titled G.A.S.P!! Fighters NEXTreme, which I’ll hereby be referring to as GASP for the sake of my sanity, is one of the most disappointing attempts to give the machine a respectable fighter. The reason I say this is that it comes from Konami, makers of some fine games in their time, including two better than they had any right to be ...

WCW vs NWO Revenge (N64) 11/08/2017

Time Has Taken It's Revenge

WCW vs NWO Revenge (N64) If you weren’t around at the turn of the Century, there may well certain aspects of popular culture that may leave you scratching your head in disbelief. I, however, turned 15 in the midst of fears about the Millenium bug, Nu-Metal and a huge spike in the popularity of American professional wrestling, so wasn’t just exposed full-throttle to the bizarre popular culture trends of the time but grew up with it. While I can honestly claim innocence with regards to being convinced computers were going to fail on the 01/01/2000 and listening to Limp Bizkit, I must confess wholeheartedly to falling for the appeal of professional wrestling. In my defence, I had grown up in professional wrestling’s first boom period in Primary School, and subsequently would strike my mid-teens right about the time what would become known as the ‘Attitude’ era of popularity, so was very much in the target audience for both periods of the ‘sport’ taking over the mass media. While my formative years’ obsession was augmented by a fixation with the fantastically good fun action figures, sadly this would have been socially frowned upon in my teenage years. In place of that, however, there were videogames. Now, for those blissfully unaware of the workings of professional wrestling, particularly in the late 1990s, it was a field of entertainment dominated by 2 companies: Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW). While the WWF had dominated the ...

Top Gear Overdrive (N64) 09/08/2017

Not a Clarkson in sight

Top Gear Overdrive (N64) Anyone familiar with my previous reviews will be fully aware that the genre of racing games is not one that I hold particularly fondly to my heart. While the obvious classics like Super Mario Kart and Micro Machines transcend this negative bias, by large a racing game needs to perform above and beyond to really grip my attention. With this said, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that upon the purchase of my Nintendo 64 console one of the 2 games that co-hold the title of being my first game on the machine was, in fact, based very much in the realms of cars racing one another. This wasn’t a conscious decision of course; it just happened that Top Gear Overdrive happened to be one of the 2 games that came packaged alongside my machine along with Super Mario 64. Truth be told I didn’t really hold out much hope for it when I got my N64 home. I figured that at best it would provide some amusement from a multiplayer point of view until I could save up to purchase something else to play on my shiny new machine. The sequel to a Top Gear Rally, a game I’ve never played nor have any real aspirations to do so, Top Gear Overdrive boasts cover art depicting a Dodge Viper with a large, toothy grin, but sadly this is entirely for aesthetic value on the shelf, and the game is set in, largely, realistic, automobiles. With that said calling the game itself a realistic racing game would be somewhat off the mark, I’ve heard it labelled an ‘Arcade Racer’ which I’d say is about right. The ...
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