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For a while, Dark Angel (AKA I Come in Peace) almost feels like two separate films. The first follows Dolph Lundgren’s tough as nails cop joining up with a naïve FBI agent to hunt down the drug baron who killed his partner. The second sees an overly large humanoid alien literally arriving on earth with a bang and immediately going on a killing spree whilst being pursued by an equally humongous extra-terrestrial. However, both storylines are actually connected by the drugs bust where Lundgren’s partner was killed.

Dark Angel is very much an action movie of its time. Lots of punching people in the head on moodily lit, rain soaked streets in a city under perpetual nighttime. Director Craig R. Baxley (The Warriors) cherry-picks the best bits of 80s blockbusters, particularly The Terminator, to provide something that is more fun than it has any right to be. There is very little here to tax the brain. People talk in exposition on a regular basis and when things start getting a bit slow, you know you’re guaranteed an explosion just around the corner.

However, none of this hides the fact that Dark Angel is a very derivative and not particularly well-made film.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.

K-11 (2012)

October 27, 2017 — Leave a comment

In neon-soaked exploitation drama, K-11, when record exec, Raymond Saxx (Goran VIsnijc) is brought into LA County Jail off his face, a turn of events lead him to being thrown into the titular unit reserved mainly for transsexuals and gay men considered a danger to society, presided over by the sadistic Lt. Johnson (D.B. Sweeney). Trying to prove his innocence, Saxx finds himself being dominated by the very personification of fire in stilettos, Mousey (Kate del Castillo), whilst becoming a father figure to the naive but unhinged Butterfly (Portia Doubleday).

Reminiscent of the bunched up fist that was Scum, First time director Jules Stewart (Yes, Kristen Stewart’s mum) seems to be on a dare; hell-bent on piling one taboo on top of another without really trying to advance the plot.  Tonally It’s all over the place; sloppily strutting from high camp to evasive aggression in the blink of a false eyelash.

K-11 is a vicious film that tries to tackle so many subjects (drugs, rape, child abuse, homosexuality, loss of innocence), it never really manages to get a firm hold on anything in particular.  A success in aggression, but a failure in any other department.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.

Lifeforce (1985)

October 27, 2017 — Leave a comment

A missing European space probe mission arrives back on earth with most of the crew dead and three naked comatose humanoids in the ship’s cargo. Whilst under quarantine, the humanoids turn out to be overly sexual, energy vampires. One of which escapes, sucking the lifeforce out of every Tom, Dick and Harry, with an SAS colonel and the sole survivor of the probe in hot pursuit.

As high concepts go in sci-fi/horror, this is up there with some of the best. Vampires, spaceships, nudity, zombies, a cameo by Patrick Stewart; there’s a hell of a lot going on in this party bag of a movie from Director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chain Saw Massacre). However, spread across 115 minutes, this feels like a case of throwing everything at the screen and seeing what sticks.

At its best, Lifeforce has some great set pieces coupled with some showy special effects. However, at its worst, which is most of the time, it’s an undercooked slice of genre filmmaking, suggesting Hooper’s heart wasn’t totally in this. This is evidenced by wooden acting, a Mancini score that doesn’t fit the film tonally and a storyline that flails around before finishing itself off with a whimper.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.


In 1959’s Killer Shrews, James Best (Dukes of Hazzard) headed up a group of folks trapped on island off the coast of Texas, surrounded by ravenous oversized shrews. Over 50 years later and Best returns to the island with a reality TV crew, only to discover the shrews are still there and hungry as ever.

The original Killer Shrews is a much-derided film, known mostly for special effects that consisted of overly friendly dogs draped in fur coat. The sequel sees the shrews realised in a mixture of CGI and animatronics, but don’t expect blockbuster production values here.

Seeing as it’s clear everyone is playing this for laughs, it should be easy to overlook the low production values, but the forced humour elicits groans throughout. The performances by those who weren’t in Dukes of Hazzard, are as stilted as the CGU animation of the shrews. Bruce Davison (X-Men 1 & 2) looks positively bored as the villainous Jerry Farrell who leads he shrews on their blood-soaked assault.

Neither funny or scary, The Return of the Killer Shrews biggest scare is the threat in the end credits of an oncoming third film.

Stitches (2012)

October 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

When Richard ‘Stitches’ Grindle (Ross Noble) is killed entertaining a bunch of brats at a birthday party, he’s resurrected by a cult of demon worshipping clowns to exact his revenge on those same youths ten years later.

If you sighed at any point during that sentence this is not a film for you.

Stitches is a throw back to the 80s when the local Cineplex and VHS machines were Freddy and Jason’s stomping grounds, followed by a bunch of clones and rip offs eager for a bit of that slasher coinage. Obviously, we mean this in a good way. Throwing caution to the wind, Director Conor McMahon works well with a low budget, providing some pitch black comedic deaths, whilst Noble bounces around gleefully talking only in one liners that would Krueger blush.

There are some plot holes and leaps of logic that don’t exactly work and there’s a sense that the middle act was mixed up a little, but these are minor quibbles in a film that will exploit anybody’s coulrophobia (look it up).