Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since a comedy/horror film has pushed the right buttons for me. Films such as Gremlins, The Toxic Avenger, Shaun of the Dead, Creepshow, Fright Night, Beetlejuice and Zombieland are rare exceptions in a wasteland genre full of cheap vampire innuendo and slapstick zombie schlock cinema.

Perhaps it was the premise of the film that I found so exciting; A tale of friends banding together with nothing but comic books as their guide, to save the planet from invasion by magical sea creatures. To me it sounded like the perfect pairing of classic science fiction, with an equal measure of horror and comedy.

Going into the screening with quite a pessimistic attitude, I was quickly won over by the scripts sharp witticisms and refreshingly original content. Part of me had expected the usual portrayal of the stereotypical nerds, as seen in current television shows such as The Big Bang Theory and most high school films from the eighties and early nineties. However, the film refuses to adhere to this old Revenge of the Nerds style attitude, by quite obviously being written for nerds, by nerds. Sure one of the characters lives in his grandmothers basement, but the characters are relate-able somehow. Unlike the twitchy, socially awkward, over-done computer nerd stereotype that we have come to identify with in the comedy genre, I did not feel alienated from any of the characters in this film. The amount of Lovecraft references alone indicates that this film is more of a fun homage to a cult legend, rather than a satire of nerds versus sea creatures.

The film is rumoured to be released theatrically, however I suspect a straight to DVD release in Australia, which is a shame, because this film worked for me in the interactive cinema setting of A Night of Horror International Film Festival.

Directed by: Henry Saine
Written by: Devin McGinn
Starring: Kyle Davis, Devin McGinn, Matt Bauer, Honor Bliss and Gregg Lawrence.
Cinematography: Cameron Cannon
Country: United States
Language: English
Running Time: 78 minutes
Filmbiotic Diagnosis: 2.5/5

Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment


Drug addiction is one of the main themes of this documentary. After all, Patty Schemel’s career as a drummer and drug user began at the fragile early age of eleven, when she was given her first drum kit, closely followed by her first alcoholic drink at twelve. She speaks about her struggles with addiction so nonchalantly but there is always the tortured reminder that Patty almost did not survive and it is because of pure chance that she lives to tell her tale in this documentary.


This isn’t just a drug story, the film also shows us footage of the precious family moments of Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and their daughter Frances Bean. It also traces the history of her band with Courtney Love, ‘Hole’ with exclusive behind the scenes footage, interviews and the devastating story of bassist, Kristen Pfaff”s tragic death. Patty’s mother also gives valuable insight and wisdom into Patty’s teen years as a young lesbian struggling to belong in a small town full of bigotry and prejudice.


See Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel at Sydney Underground Film Festival this weekend. Hurry, tickets are selling fast! You can buy them for $10-14…here.

Trivia: One of Patty’s first bands ‘Doll Squad’ played with Nirvana in Seattle where supposedly Patty Schemel was poached by Kurt Cobain to be in his band. That is until she became second choice on the discovery of Dave Grohl. Courtney Love then recruited Patty as drummer for her new band, to be called ‘Hole

Despite The Gods

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

David Lynch is well known for making bizarre films with a surrealist, dreamlike and often nonlinear structure. Labelled by many as one of the most popular surrealists of all time, Lynch made one of my all time favourite films, Eraserhead and co-created the equally iconic television series Twin Peaks. So by coming into the world with a father of such calibre, it comes as no surprise that David’s daughter Jennifer would want to walk in his footsteps as a filmmaker.

Sydney, Jennifer and David Lynch

Jennifer Lynch’s first attempt at filmmaking with Boxing Helena was an epic flop at the boxoffice and with critics alike. Jennifer was accused by feminists of making a torture porn film and critics called into question her ability and integrity on the grounds of inexperience and nepotism. Jennifer discusses these claims in Despite The Gods as ridiculous, due to the fact that she was just a nineteen year old girl setting out to make a fantasy film.

Sherilyn Fenn and Julian Sands in Boxing Helena.

Years later, Jennifer went on to direct the award winning horror film, Surveillance. With a new found confidence in her ability as a filmmaker, it is strange her next logical step was to make Nagin, a film about a snake that turns into a woman who then turns back into a snake goddess creature. I can’t give too much of the source films plot away without spoilers, but you can get the idea of its ridiculous nature from Nagin’s alternative title of Hisss.

Despite the Gods was intended as a documentary on the technical process and cultural conflicts of making a Bollywood meets Hollywood co-production, but it stands alone as a valuable and brutally honest insight into the everyday life of a full time director and single mother. The film also provides us with a snapshot into the culture of modern day India, with particular emphasis on the themes of sexuality, poverty and class systems.

Jennifer Lynch and Mallika Sheraw on the set of Nagin (Hisss)

Despite The Gods is showing at Sydney Underground Film Festival this Saturday, the 8th of September at midday in The Factory Theatre. Tickets are $12-14 and you can buy them… here.

Trivia: Jennifer Lynch wrote ‘The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer’, a spin-off novel of her father’s television series, ‘Twin Peaks’.

Bad Brains: A Band in DC

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment


Whatever hard-core band that you listen to today; chances are they were inspired by the ground-breaking work of Washington DC’s ‘Bad Brains’. Well, their earlier stuff at least. Bad Brains is a documentary that traces the ample career of the band from their most acclaimed early hard-core punk rock, to their eventual fusion with reggae.

Intended as a tribute to the careers of the Bad Brains members, the film is eventually overshadowed by the rapid decline in frontman H.R’s (Human Rights) sanity. Beginning as a talented singer and performer, we witness the eventual mood swings, violent outbursts, drugged out rants and displays of disrespect towards the band and fans. Although these outbursts are entertaining at first, they soon become dark and disturbing, as we witness just how tormented and deranged this man has become.

The most interesting element of this documentary was the casual portrayal of the history of punk rock and hard-core music as a then developing genre. There is homage paid to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, and many more of the greats. Throughout this portrayal, the Bad Brains remain humbled about the magnitude of their own influence, with the exception of H.R.’s megalomania and nods from their friends, The Beastie Boys and Henry Rollins (to name just a few!).

This film is a must-see, not just for punk rock and reggae fans, but for all music fans curious about the evolution of this genre and the full story of an epic, undervalued and underappreciated band.


Bad Brains probably won’t be showing in a cinema near you, so I suggest you get yourself to the Sydney Underground Film Festival screening, this Friday the 7th of September at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Tickets are a measly $12 – $14 bucks and you can buy them… here.

Trivia: In 1979, Bad Brains were banned from many live music and performance venues in Washington D.C, forcing them to relocate to New York.

The Amazing Spiderman

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The idea of anonymity is an all too familiar feeling for anyone who has participated in an internet forum, played an online game or chatted to people across the world in chat rooms. Anonymity enables you to say and do whatever you want without accountability to your society, friends and family. This is the arena of the troll, the ‘thinspiration’ blogger and the online sexual predator. However, it is also an arena that gives power to the otherwise gimped; it is the online society where appearance and status does not need to matter. This feeling of power through anonymity is how Marc Webb’s Spiderman feels when he wears his disguise.


The controversy of Sony and Marvel fighting over ownership of the series is not what I am here to discuss. In my opinion, bureaucratic battles can sort themselves out; in the meantime, I am going to watch every Batman reboot and every reinterpretation of Frankenstein- I just want to be entertained. So was the Spiderman reboot worth all of the debate? Sure, Sam Raimi’s Spiderman films ended up served with a hefty slice of cheese, but Tobey Maguire made Spiderman a complex and tragic character, unlike Andrew Garfield as the pseudo-hip-to-be-square skater boy (probably not his fault).


This rebooted version of Spiderman draws its strength in being more like a graphic novel on the screen as opposed to the Hollywood style showdowns of Raimi’s Blockbuster trilogy. It’s almost as if Webb’s Amazing Spiderman is trying to gain credibility as an indie flick in its own right whilst also cashing in on the franchise of yesteryear. Never the less, the incredible special effects of the action sequences absorb you into this world due to seamless editing and masterful computer generated imagery. Although some may argue that this imagery will appear too artificial, the surreal visuals thrust you further into the comic world and the 3D work is stunning.


I wholeheartedly disagree with anyone who believes that this is simply a regurgitation of an old film. The story and its characters are miles different to Sam Raimi’s interpretation of the story. The decision to include Gwen Stacey in her Highschool years was a wise one, but was not explored as effectively as it should have been – Are we afraid to give our female leads more agency? What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s not also forget that Gwen Stacey’s character was treated as the dumb blonde model type in Raimi’s Spiderman 3. Although she has been reclassified in this version as an intelligent, powerful young woman who does not need Spidermans help, wouldn’t it have been more interesting if her supposedly intelligent character in point of fact helped Peter Parker with an actual scientific problem! It almost seems like a cop out to show us a female lead with potential and then have her play the whimsical love card yet again. Will we ever learn?


Fans can be very protective over films that they love and there has been a slight ‘too-soon’ back lash to this film. However, let’s not forget the many errors that were made in previous Spiderman films and also the positive changes made in this reboot. One of my favourite changes was the use of artificial webbing instead of organic webbing. The use of artificial webs is truthful to the comic books. This creative choice also pinpoints the fact that Peter Parker is an intelligent young man capable of achieving his own superpowers without his Spider senses. This notion provides an essential lesson to youth about creativity and intelligence winning out over pure luck and inbuilt chemistry.


I also liked the stripped back idea of the modern nerd being not just an ugly guy in glasses, but an outsider, of an almost James Dean like charisma. As much as my nerdy friends hate to admit it, they are not as uncool as they think they are. The internet has become such an integral part of our lives that you no longer need face-to-face social skills in order to advance in society- Geeks are inheriting the world. This reinterpretation of Spiderman expresses these changes much better than the fumbling Parker in Raimi’s films who always hides behind his many lenses. This modern day Spiderman has much more personal agency than any other depiction, he’s also thankfully less obnoxious (none of my friends agree).


The subtle influence of the music of James Horner is unfortunately overshadowed by a pop soundtrack that would have been more effecting if it had been more relevant to the subject matter of the film. Director Marc Webb’s soundtrack for his debut feature film, 500 Days of Summer was in contrast, a huge success, due to the integration of indie artists as opposed to tired singles from the pop charts.

The acrobatics of Spiderman’s movements are more human like that any other superhero we see on the screen. It was rewarding to see this given justice on the screen. With the many negative factors impacting this film from its development, The Amazing Spiderman at its very essence is a coming of age story with super powers, to appeal to the layperson who struggles to find power and strength in their life. It’s a story that will continue to resonate with all ages, regardless of how many times it will continue to be rebooted in the future. At least this time it stayed true to its core values.

Filmbiotic’s Diagnosis: 4/5

Trivia: This was the first Hollywood production to be filmed with the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company’s RED Epic camera.

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