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Over at FilmInk, I review Kusama – Infinity.

If during The Exorcist you wondered what would have happened if Pazuzu punched Regan through a wall, or Father Merrin added some WrestleMania moves to his repertoire then allow The Vatican Tapes to help realise your dreams. Directed by Mark Neveldine, one half of the team who gave us the adrenaline soaked Crank series, the film follows young, sweet Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) who has started displaying some seriously out of character behaviour, such as swearing, being insatiably horny, talking in tongues and slipping into a 40 day coma.

When a trip to the local asylum fails to cure her, hospital chaplain, Father Lozano (Antman’s Michael Pena) calls in the help of Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) who tackles the situation like Father McGruder in Brain Dead: kicking arse for the lord. Dougray Scott shows up playing Angela’s father, looking shell-shocked throughout and it’s no wonder.

Even with its central violent exorcism and gruesomely imaginative deaths – someone snuffs it by the application of lightbulbs to the eye sockets – The Vatican Tapes is a steroid induced version of events seen before in other films of this ilk. Neveldine’s erratic usage of shakey cam and speaker blowing sound means some viewers could come out feeling like they’ve been beaten around the head with a bag of bibles.

And where do The Vatican Tapes come into play? Well, whilst the Pope’s turf does make an appearance to bookend the film, like the best exploitations, the title is a bit of a misnomer likely left over from its days as a black list script for a found footage that was dusted off and re-written. Perhaps its biggest sin though is leaving us with a tantalizing ending that suggests, given better pacing, the film could have given us a horror take on celebrity worship.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.

Raw (2016)

September 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

After being force-fed meat during a hazing ritual, veterinarian student and hardcore vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins to develop an unhealthy interest in cannibalism in this surprisingly beautiful feature from French director Julie Ducournau. Surprisingly beautiful because when one hears the term ‘cannibal’ they’d be forgiven for conjuring up images from the works of Ruggero Deodato. What they probably won’t imagine is something like Raw, which goes outside the norm of what we would consider body horror.

Justine’s parents expect her to be a vet, and make the lifestyle choice of vegetarianism more akin to an indoctrination. At school, she reluctantly partakes in hazing so that she doesn’t stand out too much and embarrass her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), who attends the same school. Justine’s growing appetite for flesh may be highly unusual, but it serves as just another thing in her life that has been forced upon her. Yet as Raw progresses, we do see her try to embrace it and from doing so, she begins to develop and grow from a young girl into a grown woman who craves her own mind. When sister dearest admits to having the same predilections and invites her to her own carnivorous world, Justine chooses that moment to be her own person. Raw is as much a coming of age drama as it is a horror.

Read the rest of the review here.

Over the last couple of days the new laws have been proposed in Australia and if they come to pass, cigarette companies will have to promote their cigarettes in olive green boxes with some form of reminder of the horrific damage those little things can do.

“We want to make sure that the glamour that might have been attached to smoking in the past is dead and gone,” the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said a couple of days ago. “Cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking. The new packs have been designed to have the lowest appeal to smokers and to make clear the terrible effects that smoking can have on your health.”

In a way, they look like the front cover to a series of Stephen King novels.

So, anyway, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable public media battle that happened round about the time the UK began preparations for the smoking ban in all pubs and restaurants. What I’m talking about is the two factions of anti and pro setting up their camps, waiting patiently for dawn and then beginning their assault of hyperbole and conjecture against each other. And it is so very very boring.

‘We are smokers!’ cry the pro-league, ‘Everyone is entitled to live free and smoke hard. It is our right to smoke. To take away that right blah blah cough weeze figures and facts.’

‘We’re non-smokers!’ shout the anti-league, ‘Everyone is entitled to live free and live hard. We want smoking banned. Blah blah let’s go jogging blah!’

Both parties managing to cancel out each others arguments by saying that the very people they oppose have the right to do whatever they want to do.

And then you have the other party, the third one that no one really listens to…

‘Well, they should save the money and just ban it out right. That would help the problem.’

Well, yeah, like prohibition. That worked well.

Is there fundamentally wrong with shaming people into not doing something? Maybe. It could be argued that people should be allowed to make their own choices, catch their own diseases etc, but then you open the gates for the nanny state protesters and then we have to run for cover. That’s four parties filling up every internet forum and newspaper letter page until mid-2012.

So how we can end all this fighting. Just ban alcohol. Watch how quickly smokers and non smokers join forces then. Oh yes, we can argue till the cows come home about smoking, but to take away our right to drink?! Well, that’s just insane!

The thing is, that nothing is going to change until, and I swear I’m not trolling, smoking is banned outright. People will still smoke, people will still not smoke and the two parties will continue to resent each other. Because, and let’s be honest about this, black tar heroin has been around for a while and that was in plain packaging way before cigarettes. Hell, it even has the disability of being banned! It’s kind of like a narcotic cash cow, like cigarettes.

Oxford Notebooks

September 20, 2009 — 3 Comments

There are many sure things in life. Megan Fox is a flash in the pan, Come Dine with Me is compelling viewing, Kanye West is a jackass and each new Sugababes song sounds more and more like a death rattle escaping from the cold blue lips of their career.

Another sure thing is that if you put an infinite number of advertising execs in a room, they will eventually write a sequel to Macbeth. In the mean time, whilst we wait, these same execs are pumping out ads for products that don’t need them. For example, Oxford Notebooks.

Who was the person they spoke to in the post tests that cried out ‘People need to know that they can write on paper!’.

When I first saw the advert, my initial thoughts were that this was for some form of zit cream. There sits our heroine, lonely on a park bench and in a ridiculous AC/DC top (CH/LD? FFS). Oh, she’s lonely, I thought, I’m sure Clearasil will help her. I was so very wrong.

Seemingly taking pity on this Juno cast off, Oxford Notebook begins shows her her future like some bastard spiral bound Nostradamus. We see her go to a club where she looks like she’s going to be approached by an unnerving elder gentlemen. Surely this isn’t how her life is going to end. But it’s okay! Oxford Notebook jumps forth and scrunches the man right out of existence and before we have time to marvel at the special effects, he’s replaced by a floppy haired git whose very smugness can only be compared to that of Simon Cowell when he spies his own reflection. Astoundingly, this chinless wonder is the very thing our child looks for in a man and soon Oxford Notebook is showing her getting married and having babies.

It should be pointed that despite the fact she appears to be growing up, hubbie and her don’t appear to actually age. Possibly aiming for the Twilight demographic’s opinion that wrinkled skin is uncool, husband, wife and child are merely shown wearing black rimmed glasses. A true sign that one has aged.

Comforted with the knowledge that her life is going to be nothing special, our heroine closes Oxford Notebook and sits back wondering how long it is before she meets her future smug bastard husband.

What makes the advert equally intolerable is the Diane Vickers sound-alike warbling over the top. I’m informed that Diane is in fact a popular Indie band from America. Well, let’s hope they stay there.  No punch line. Seriously, stay there.

After watching the ad, you’re left with so many questions. If Oxford Notebook is so clever why didn’t he give our heroine next week’s lottery numbers? Did he feel that Derren Brown had already stolen his thunder? Why, when her book began to flash images of the future, did our heroine simply sit forward and watch when she should have burnt the book for being the Devil’s tool it really is? However, before you can come to grips with all this, we are reminded that Oxford Notebooks aren’t just packed to the brim with divination, but they also  ‘allow you to write on both sides of the page’.


I cannot tell you how many times I have got to the end of a page and thought ‘where do I go from here?’. Thank you Oxford Notebook for finally answering this problem. Like our punky protagonist, the clouds above me have cleared and I realise that I don’t need to be afraid any longer, because I can now write on BOTH sides of the page. Soon, they’ll be researching re-fillable glasses.

In the meantime, let’s just get on with the task of selling ice to Eskimos.