Category Archives: Non-Slash



2 Stars  2012/116m

“This collection is killer.”

Directors/Writers: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuad, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, Adam Wingard / Writers: Simon Barrett, Nicholas Tecosky / Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, Drew Sawyer, Jas Sams, Sophia Takal, Drew Moerlein, Jason Yachanin, Helen Rogers, Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Paul Natonek, Eric Curtis.

Body Count: 16-ish

In horror, the only thing worse than over-explaining something is not explaining it at all. That is, to say, if it REQUIRES explanation. A smart film will drip-feed you enough information for to draw your own conclusions.

V/H/S, a new anthology of the “found footage” sub-set may have traded on the ever more common retro/throwback hype-o-meter that people tend to wheel out as an excuse for gore and tits, as if one is even needed.

However, in the case of this picture, which I saw at London’s FrightFest, the complete lack of explanation for four of its six tales (including the ‘arcing’ story) sunk it quickly and, if post-viewing murmurs were to be heeded, few people in the audience thought it was that great.

It goes thusly: four annoying twats are hired to go steal a video cassette from a house. Why? Dunno. Who hired them? Dunno. What’s on the tape? Dunno. They break in, and find the inhabitant has expired and begin to search for the tape. Unlike the cover art, there is no great wall of VHS tapes, but several scattered around, which they choose to watch.

The first story is a guys-night-out affair filmed through camera-glasses. Three idiots pick up chicks, go back to party, one of them ain’t right. It wraps itself up well enough. Story #2 is the travelogue of a young couple, which has a suitably creepy midriff, let down by a random twist lobbed in from nowhere that is neither clear, nor in any way smart.

Next is Tuesday the 17th. Four kids in a car go to the woods, invisible and/or magnetically charged killer, who screws with the playback, does them in. An amusing riff on Paranormal Activity permeates the fourth story, which is a selection of Skype conversations that has some decent atmosphere, laughs, jumps, but is ultimately ruined – yet again – by a real head-scratcher of an ending.

The final story echoes the opener, with four guys out at Halloween, who turn up at a party with a decidedly unenthusiastic vibe. It’s probably the best segment out of the lot. The finale of the ‘arc’ story yields no answers either, ending predictably but without the bang needed to make the audience go “ah!” and tie it all together.

Shaky-cam syndrome was to be expected and is no big deal, but uneven acting, largely unsympathetic characters, and the feeling that very few ideas were thought through beyond the most basic of concepts are the concrete boots that drown V/H/S in the end.

A few thoughts on Piranha 3DD. D. DD.


1.5 Stars  2012/18/83m

“Twice the terror. Double the D’s.”

Director: John Gulager / Writers: Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton / Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Chris Zylka, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, Paul Scheer, Katrina Bowden, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager, Adrian Martinez.

Body Count: I counted 11

Dire-logue: “Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina!”

I wouldn’t normally review this movie here, as fish don’t usually wield blades and have intricate revenge plots to settle (possibly excluding that shark in Jaws: The Revenge). But I hope that a few thoughts on my frankly miserable experience might save somebody else’s sanity, somewhere in the world…

Plus I did that Be careful what you fish for thingy some while ago.

Let us begin by stating that Piranha 3D (2010) was a horror film with a bit of comedy, whereas Piranha 3DD is a comedy with a bit of horror.

My misery began on a rainy Monday, when I drove my VW camper along the cinema to see an afternoon performance. During the ads and trailers, the sound seemed muffled and I hoped by the time the movie began it would work. Lo and behold, it didn’t. Only the music and added sound effects were discernible to the ear: All dialogue sounded like the actors were talking through gas masks. 35 minutes in, the techs couldn’t fix it and the showing was cancelled. We got refunded and home I went.

Having seen (though not heard) the first third of the movie, I thought “oh, it’s not as bad as it was meant to be.” Indeed, Piranha 3DD starts well enough, with a couple of tame fish attacks on a pair of trappers (Busey and director’s dad Gulager) and then ‘the van scene’, which was nicely done, although, again, very light on the bloodletting, something the 2010 movie was super liberal about.

When I went to a different cinema after work the next day, I re-enjoyed the first 35 minutes and then began to slip into a parallel state of being where I literally couldn’t believe that what was appearing on the screen had ever made it past any sort of editing suite. The subtle beginnings give way to an onslaught of ridiculous setups and, given the waterpark finale we were all salivating over the prospects of, a real damp squib of a finale.

The fish make it to the park and ‘the massacre’ scene occurs and is over and done with largely within 2-3 minutes. Shots from the trailer appear but there is no extra meat (‘scuse the pun) to them. The girl we see on the slide being attacked, for instance, there’s no preamble to it. Elsewhere, there’s a decapitation by driving a golf cart into what appears to be string bunting!

The mainstay from the first film is the nudity. If you thought it was crowbarred in before, it’s completely superfluous this time round. A montage of tits and vadge is shown near the start as Koechner’s agreeably slimy waterpark owner introduces Danielle Panabaker to the ‘adult pool’, which includes an underwater ‘Coochie Cam’. It’s entirely without point and weirdly off-putting.


Finally, there’s David Hasselhoff. Introduced in a frankly bizarre scene where he composes a crappy my-first-Casio song about “love honey”, then attempts to spoof his Baywatch role, poses a lot, and is utterly unaffected by the carnage going on around him.

In conclusion:

  • The CG-fish look better
  • Too many principal cast members survive (and several of those that don’t aren’t even chomped by the piranha)
  • Nudity beyond requirement. Oddly, in the two sex scenes, there’s none!
  • The Hoff lives
  • Ving Rhames and Paul Scheer (Andrew the camera guy who literally disappeared in the first film) appear for all of five minutes.
  • This should be a horror film, not Porky’s Meets Piranha

A good first act notwithstanding, this is possibly the worst of the five Piranha movies. And that includes Roger Corman’s dodgy 1995 version.

Blurbs-of-interest: Danielle Panabaker was Jenna in the 2009 Friday the 13th redux; David Koechner was recently in Final Destination 5; Chris Zylka can be found in all three My Super Psycho Sweet 16 films; Clu Gulager played the dad in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2. Writers Dunstan and Melton were the “creative” force behind The Collector.

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Be careful what you fish for

Vegan Voorhees is going to take a little step outside of the slasher movies only hoop into the dangerous world of… OTHER HORROR MOVIES! Well, killer fish movies – but only for a minute! Promise!!

Being a child fan of Jaws, I’ve always liked me some fish-what-bite-back movies. I don’t really like eating fish but they get a raw deal (‘specially if it’s sushi – ho ho ho) so sometimes it’s nice to see them get their own back on people.

So here’s a quick overview of some of the finny films I love as well as those that I didn’t so much as “love” as “stare open-mouthed at”…

The JAWS films (1975-1987)

The Top Dog of killer fish movies, the original movie has not only never been bettered but it’s rare to find anything that comes within a mile of it. That said, for years I advocated Jaws 2 as my favourite of the bunch – thanks largely in part to A). the water-skiing bit, B). Phantom-of-the-Opera shark and C). the dumb group of teens picked off by the shark. Though not nearly enough of them got chomped.

Jaws III and The Revenge were comparably naff but I still like. I can clearly remember cereal boxes with 3D glasses and little Jaws comic strips on the back; Jaws 2 crisps (pickled onion) and attempting to read and understand the complex plottings of the Jaws: The Revenge novel, aged eight.

But enough about these films – we’ve all seen them, we know they started well and ended up with a fish able to strategize an intricate revenge scheme, but what of the hoards of pretenders?

Tentacles (1977)

A giant octopus eats people at a small Californian beach resort. It sounds awesome and begins fittingly awesomely with the ‘pus snatching a child from a pushchair by the water! Harsh. Some spooky scenes ensue but before long, protracted scenes of scuba diving only serve as a reminder that nothing is more boring than protracted scenes of scuba diving.

The ‘pus eventually attacks a sailing regatta, eats another child and Shelley Winters wears a giant sombrero. At the end, a widowed guy sets two killer whales on the poor creature. Tentacles should’ve been so much more. It should’ve lived up to that AWESOME artwork. Someone remake it.

piranha1978-aPiranha (1978)

Joe Dante directed this playful spoof on Jaws and it swims with ease into second best killer fish film. Despite being a total satire-fest, Piranha is actually quite sad in points: the nice summer camp counsellor (Dante regular Belinda Balaski) falling victim to the ever-trilling fishies is a borderline upsetting moment rare in horror, letalone low-rent killer fish horror.

The film was followed by a bizarre sequel in 1981, directed by James Cameron of all people, in which the fish had developed freakin’ WINGS and could hide out inside corpses long enough to flutter out at close by nurses.

Roger Corman produced a real cheap looking TV remake in 1995, which featured a chick from Baywatch and Soleil Moon Frye and much of the same footage from the original. Fair to say it sucked.

The Last Shark (1980)

Universal successfully sued the producers of The Last Shark (a.k.a. Great White, L’ultimo Squalo) for plagiarism and the film was shut down after only a couple of weeks in theaters in 1980, which is a bit of a shame as, despite its shameless pilfering, it’s not the worst killer shark film around.

A rampaging Great White eats windsurfers, boaters and endless people who try and kill it. Borrowed scenes include midnight skinny dipping, the shark crashing another regatta, eating a helicopter, tearing a jetty away and characters which are virtually third-generation Xeroxes of Quint and Brody. The shark resembles a thirtieth-generation copy of a polystyrene junior school art project that more floats than swims.

The Beast (1995)

Proving he was a versatile writer, Peter Benchley penned the novel in which a giant squid terrorises a small coastal community, which was made into a mini-series a few years later. Sounds like Jaws? It virtually is. Shot in Australia with a load of cast members from Neighbours or Home and Away, I can’t remember much of it now, which is possibly a merciful state of mind to be in.

Cruel Jaws (1995)

Love that tagline: “This time it’s even more personal than the last time.”

I encourage you ALL to find a copy of this hilarious patchwork effort that unapologetically steals footage from the Jaws movies and The Last Shark. Another hungry fish – this time trained (!?) by the navy – comes to town to eat folk, the mafia are involved, the marine biologist tells everyone: “Only one species of shark is capable of this…the TIGER SHARK!”

But all the footage is of Great Whites.

There’s a sensational scene when a girl confined to a wheelchair begins rolling down a pier and plunges into the water and we clearly see her legs begin to kick. A girl squeals “I wanna dance!” when she’s already dancing. The main guy looks like Hulk Hogan and the shark is somehow destroyed three times at the end. It’s amazing.

Literally ALL scenes with the shark are lifted from other movies and it had the nerve to try and pass itself off as Jaws 5!!! It’s at least more fun to watch than Jaws: The Revenge though.

Deep Blue Sea (1999)deepbluesea2

Saffron Burrows is a scientist. Ha ha ha! She and Stellan Skarsgaard have been experimenting on Mako sharks to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. Ha ha ha! The side effect is that the sharks’ brains swell and they get smarter. Ha h- what?

Said clever fishies rebel against the scientists, crash a rescue helicopter and start to sink the out-at-sea platform, pitting the group of survivors against them as they try to reach the surface.

LL Cool J is a religious chef. Thomas Jane swaggers around, throwing himself all over the show as the macho hero and Burrows plays it all low-rent Ripley, her character so detested by focus groups that they re-shot the end to have her chomped by one of the sharks.

Shark Attack 3: Megaladon (2002)

The first Shark Attack movie in ’99 could send a can of Red Bull to sleep. The second one had roaring Great Whites and a couple of decent laughs but Shark Attack 3 is where it’s at: a giant million-foot prehistoric Megaladon shark comes out of a deep sea trench and eats things. There’s a school of regular GW’s around too, ready and waiting at the bottom of waterslides, eating parasailers and stuff…

As if this were not wacky enough, John Barrowman camps it up as a scientist who turns to his female companion (who played a different role in the first film, evidently hoping nobody saw it or fell asleep and didn’t notice) seconds after she mourns the loss of a friend and says; “What do you say I take you home and you let me eat your pussy?”

Allegedly he was trying to make the actress laugh but it got cut into the film anyhow. See it!

Behold the convincing effects of Shark Attack 3

The Reef (2010)

A subtle Australian export reportedly based on true events. Five people head out on a yacht. The yacht capsizes. Four of them opt to try and swim to land. A shark eventually catches up and begins attacking them.

Open Water has a lot to answer for (not least of all its horrible sequel, Adrift), but The Reef is actually pretty good. Though you could only watch it the once really. Some decent tension mounts in one of those what-would-you-do situation horrors Australia is good at.

Piranha 3D (2010)

Alexandre Aja helmed this in-name-only remake (which would’ve been better off as a sequel), which trades story and character for gore and tits. Lots of tits. So many in fact that I wondered if the film had been part-funded by a Naturist Society.

Dame Elisabeth of Shue tries her hardest to fit things together as the local sheriff who sees Spring Break literally savaged by a massive school of prehistoric piranha freed by an underwater earthquake.

It’s a disappointingly shallow affair but good for squishy demises and 13-year-old boys who want to ogle silicone boobs but the whole thing carries a disturbing undercurrent of misogyny in places, which sees countless pretty girls chewed into chunks only after they’ve ripped their tops off.

Shark Night 3D (2011)

The more family friendly alternative to Piranha, college kids take a vacation at their rich friend’s lakehouse and soon discover it’s teeming with various species of dangerous sharks put there by a group of money-hungry rednecks who want to sell footage of real life shark attacks to the Discovery Channel. Seriously.

No reason is given for the fishes aggression and I was more sad that the teens captured and killed a cute Hammerhead than when any of them died. It’s funny how the lead guy is supposed to be the ultimate nerd but is seen comfortably shirtless with the body of a Jersey Shore extra. The dog is the only character who matters and is the one to save the day when it counts.

Other ponds to paddle in:

  • Devilfish (a.k.a. Devouring Waves) was another scientists versus their own creation-fest, just really boring
  • Red Water had a Bull shark eating various people – and Coolio – in a river
  • Frankenfish set Bayou-dwellers against a giant leaping mutant thing that eats Muse Watson among others
  • Spring Break Shark Attack was a made-for-cable flick that predated the Piranha remake but was otherwise the same, memorable only by the fact that I watched it in China and some schmuck kite-surfing right into a Tiger shark’s gob.
  • Malibu Shark Attack is just that: lifeguards at the beach are attacked by Goblin sharks that float in on a tsunami.
  • It’s Daryl Hannah versus contaminated and angry fish in Shark Swarm, an epic three-hour affair with a body count to rival Jason’s.
  • Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Sharktopus are no-budget Asylum affairs with mucho hype and little thrill, crappy effects work, ridiculous plots and washed-up 80s singers like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. The first is infamous for a scene in which the giant shark randomly leaps 35,000 feet into the air to eat a Boeing 747 and the second features a shark with tentacles and an attitude.
  • And coming in 2012, this:

Can I burst into tears now or do I have to actually see it first?

Big Bad Wolf

I wouldn’t normally be so vain as to post a picture of myself – but my buddy Rob’s stag night (bachelor party, if we’re being all proper about it) had a requisite superhero theme. He chose Popeye (!?) and was forced to wear a tutu during paintball (which I SUCK at). I, on the other hand, spent a week-and-a-half growing a pair of big ‘burns, donned some claws and dog-tags to become a sort of low-rent Wolverine. Gotta say, this about the most rugged I ever have, and possibly ever will look.

OK, so this was actually the next morning and I’m hungover, my hair is bad, the shirt stank and you can see my oven of our lovely olive-green kitchen.

So endeth my vain moment and the sideburns were brutally shaved away last night. Sad times.

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