D: Larry Cohen
Larco (Larry Cohen)
US 1982
93 mins
W: Larry Cohen
DP: Fred Murphy
Ed: Armand Lebowitz
Mus: Robert O. Ragland
Michael Moriarty (Jimmy Quinn), Candy Clark (Joan), David Carradine (Det. Shepard), Richard Roundtree (Sgt. Powell), James Dixon (Lt. Murray)
Writer-director Larry Cohen recreates a 1950's B-movie into a 1980's setting for this low-budget horror flick.
A flying Aztec monster is creating havoc around New York City and a petty criminal discovers its nest in the spire of the Chrysler building and later holds the authorities to ransom over the information he holds.
There are no claims that this is a good movie. In fact, it has so many characteristics which could be attributed to the very opposite; hammy acting, cheesy dialogue, tacky special effects, even some completely unnecessary songs thrown in for good measure, but it's a blend of raucous comedy and violent horror which works very well on an entertainment level.
So bad, it's good? Yes, perhaps it is.
D: Marc Forster
MGM/Columbia/Eon (Michael G. Wilson & Barbara Broccoli)
UK/US 2008
106 mins


W: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade [based on characters created by Ian Fleming]
DP: Roberto Schaefer
Ed: Matt Chesse & Rick Pearson
Mus: David Arnold

Daniel Craig (James Bond), Olga Kurylenko (Camille Montes), Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Gemma Arterton (Strawberry Fields), Giancarlo Giannini (Rene Mathis), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), Judi Dench (M)

It's not the worst Bond film, despite having the worst Bond film title, but if you've seen one Bond movie, you've seen them all, despite the biggest efforts to take the Daniel Craig movies in a completely different direction. All of them are quite formulaic, the only things that change are the locations, stunts, villains and Bond girls.
The plot is less a spy thriller and more a tale of revenge, as agent 007 seeks revenge for the death of his lover in the previous film (Casino Royale).
This doesn't really have much memorable about it, seemingly trying to ape the Bourne movies in the action stakes and some fine talent is wasted. I also think Daniel Craig is a douchebag. This movie was a big bag of average really.
There's a big reference to Goldfinger in this one, which I thought was a little cheeky. That's the seminal Bond movie that all others aspire to be.

D: John Erick Dowdle
Screen Gems/Vertigo (Doug Davison, Roy Lee & Sergio Aguero)
US 2008
89 mins


W: John Erick Dowdle & Drew Dowdle [based on the screenplay "[Rec]" by Luisa Berdejo, Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza]
DP: Ken Seng
Ed: Elliott Greenberg 

Jennifer Carpenter (Angela Vidal), Jay Hernandez (Jake), Columbus Short (Danny Wilensky), Steve Harris (Scott Percival), Johnathon Schaech (George Fletcher)

A documentary TV crew are locked inside a residential building by authorities whilst a virus affects those trapped inside.

This virtual shot-by-shot remake of the Spanish original version ([Rec]) utilises the same "found footage" filmmaking style, although while the original film felt both spontaneous, realistic and had some genuinely terrifying moments, this American version feels forced, manipulated and is laced in the usual Hollywood bullshit. The performances suffer particulalry, especially Jennifer Carpenter, who is nowhere near as riveting or believable as Manuela Velasco's.

Watch the original instead. This is just lazy filmmaking.


"The most deadly mutant virus just went airborne... And escape is not an option."
"The most deadly mutant virus just went airborne... And escape is not an option."


D: John Pogue
Sony/Third Street/Vertigo (Sergio Aguero, Marc Brienstock, Rui Costa Reis, Boaz Davison, Richard Goldberg, Eliad Josephson, Roy Lee & William B. Steakley)
US 2011
89 mins
W: John Pogue
DP: Matthew Irving
Ed: William Yeh
Mercedes Mason (Jenny), Josh Cooke (Henry), Mattie Liptak (George), Noree Victoria (Shilah), Ignacio Serricchio (Ed)

The original Quarantine was a shot-by-shot remake of the Spanish horror movie [Rec], so you'd be forgiven for thinking this would also be a shot-for-shot remake of the sequel to that film. Surprisingly, this isn't the case, taking it away from the "found footage" subgenre in favour of a more traditional zombie horror story.

The plot begins promisingly, following the crew and passengers of a commercial aeroplane which was forced to perform an emergency landing at a secluded airport, only to discover that they are being kept grounded by the government whilst a virus creates carnage around them.

It doesn't take long for the story to abandon thrills and tension in order to adopt the more hokey, clichéd, spot-the-stiff horror formulas which Hollywood churns out on a seemingly never-ending assembly line.

Still, it's an improvement on the first film and for a straight-to-DVD movie it's reasonably entertaining, but when it comes to horror films, the superior output of Japanese and European cinema just can't be bettered by Hollywood, who simply must try harder.

D: Roy Ward Baker
Hammer (Anthony Nelson Keys)
UK 1967
97 mins
Science Fiction/Horror
W: Nigel Kneale [based on his television serial]
DP: Arthur Grant
Ed: Spencer Reeve
Mus: Tristram Cary
Andrew Keir (Prof. Bernard Quatermass), James Donald (Dr. Mathew Roney), Barbara Shelley (Barbara Judd), Julian Glover (Col. Breen), Duncan Lamont (Sladden)
Considering this movie is from the 1960's, the production values are incredibly impressive, especially for a Hammer production.
Based on a TV serial by Nigel Kneale, the story centres around ancient artefacts found underneath a London Underground station during tunnel works. A mysterious spacecraft is also unearthed, which the army are convinced is a German missile from WWII, however, Professor Quatermass is convinced that it's origins are far more occult and ominous.
The story begins very intriguingly but begins to lose it's way after the hour mark, but gets back on track shortly before its climax.
Worth a watch, even for those who aren't fans of Hammer horror, but it's unlikely there'll be many who'll watch it twice.

D: Stephen Frears
Pathé (Andy Harries, Christine Langan & Tracey Seaward)
UK/US/France/Italy 2006
102 mins


W: Peter Morgan
DP: Alfonso Beato
Ed: Lucia Zucchetti
Mus: Alexandre Desplat
PD: Alan MacDonald
Cos: Consolata Boyle

Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II), Michael Sheen (Tony Blair), James Cromwell (Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh), Helen McCrory (Cherie Blair), Alex Jennings (Prince Charles), Roger Allam (Robin Janvrin), Sylvia Syms (The Queen Mother)

Helen Mirren delivers such a convincing performance as Queen Elizabeth II, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the actress as the head of the British royal family.
Set over the weeks following the death of Princess Diana, when the public's perception of the royal family was on the decline due to a lack of any acknowledgement from her majesty, who favoured dignified solitude rather than public bereavement, as well as a change in British government and a new prime minister with an anti-royalist stance, who later develops a professional relationship with the queen and convinces her to face the people.
The film steers clear of politics, instead balancing light comedy with the tender drama, which in turn gives the queen a great deal of credibility following her strange behavior around a time of huge public emotion. It's also incredibly complimentary with its depiction of then Prime Minister Tony Blair (though wife Cherie comes across as particularly unpleasant).
The film did very well on both sides of the Atlantic, though it would be fair to say that it would be appreciated more by those of British heritage, those who remember 1997 well and pro-royalists.
D: Jean-Jacques Annaud
ICC/Cine Trail/Belstar (Michael Gruskoff)
Canada/France 1982
100 mins
W: Gérard Brach [based on the novel "La Guerrero Du Feu" by J. H. Rosny]
DP: Claude Agostini
Ed: Yves Langlois
Mus: Philippe Sarde
Everett McGill (Naoh), Ron Perlman (Amoukar), Rae Dawn Chong (Ika), Nameer El-Kadi (Gaw)
Well made and scientifically accurate, but also an incredibly boring adventure about a group of Neanderthals searching for a source for fire following an attack from a rival tribe.
There's absolutely no dialogue in this Stone Age soap opera, presented as a "Walking With Cavemen" style documentary.
The makeup and costume design are both impressive and convincing, but the film as a whole amounts to little more than a series of National Geographic photographs.
"The Wild West just got a little wilder."
"The Wild West just got a little wilder."
D: Sam Raimi
Columbia Tristar (Joshua Donen, Allen Shapiro & Patrick Markey)
US 1995
108 mins
W: Simon Moore
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Pietro Scalia
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Patrizia Von Brandenstein
Gene Hackman (John Herod), Sharon Stone (Ellen), Leonardo DiCaprio (Fee Herod), Russell Crowe (Cort), Tobin Bell (Dog Kelly), Lance Henriksen (Ace Hanlon), Pat Hingle (Horace)
In a small western town, a psychotic killer organises a gunfighting competition in which the winner is the last man alive. However, a mysterious vengeful woman visits with the intention of participating.
Clearly influenced by Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western trilogy, The Quick & The Dead is well enough made, with competent performances, but doesn't do much else to keep the genre alive.

D: Howard Franklin & Bill Murray
Warner/Devoted (Robert Greenhut & Bill Murray)
US 1990
88 mins
W: Howard Franklin [based on the novel by Jay Cronley]
DP: Michael Chapman
Ed: Alan Heim
Mus: Randy Edelman 
Bill Murray (Grimm), Geena Davis (Phyllis), Randy Quaid (Loomis), Jason Robards (Chief Walt Rotzinger)
Bill Murray stars and co-directs this heist caper, based on a novel which was previously made into a 1985 French farce titled 'Hold Up'.
Murray, dressed in full clown attire, pulls off an ingenious bank robbery with the help of Geena Davis & Randy Quaid as phoney hostages.
The getaway, however, is far from simple, and the trio find themselves in a race against time to get out of New York City whilst a veteran detective is hot on their heels.
The farcical plot merely consists of mishap after mishap, each more ridiculous than the last, and it's mostly down to Bill Murray's laconic performance to provide the amusement.
D: Geoff Murphy
Cinepro (Sam Pillsbury & Don Reynolds)
New Zealand 1985
94 mins
Science Fiction
W: Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence & Sam Pillsbury [based on the novel by Craig Harrison]
DP: James Bartle
Ed: Michael Horton
Mus: John Charles
Bruno Lawrence (Zac Hobson), Alison Routledge (Joanne), Peter Smith (Api)
A suicidal scientist wakes up to discover that he appears to be the last man left on Earth, but after finding other survivors, deduces that the apparent holocaust is due to a scientific experiment gone wrong.
New Zealand's equivalent of The Omega Man is a very decent low-budget effort. The performances are generally good, but the story isn't quite as memorable as other films of the ilk. Still, for a work where budgetary constraints would have posed a factor in the filmmaking process, director Geoff Murphy does an excellent job.
"If they hear you, they hunt you."
"If they hear you, they hunt you."


D: John Krasinski

Paramount/Platinum Dunes (Michael Bay, Andrew Form & Bradley Fuller)

US 2018

90 mins


W: John Krasinski, Scott Beck & Bryan Woods

DP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Ed: Christopher Tellefsen

Mus: Marco Beltrami

Emily Blunt (Evelyn Abbott), John Krasinski (Lee Abbott), Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbott), Noah Jupe (Marcus Abbott), Cade Woodward (Beau Abbott)

A Quiet Place is best enjoyed in a quiet place, as the atmospheric tension is built up through the film's use of sound (or lack of).

The story places right in the middle of the situation, set in a post apocalyptic near future where a species of creature has hunted mankind into virtual extinction. The only surviving family are the Abbotts, who have adapted to this reality by communicating in sign language and undertaking daily chores in silence... but they must prepare for a big test when it emerges that Evelyn is pregnant and the due date is fast approaching.

This is very much a drama film, although it does have massive horror quotient on the plot device, and John Krasinski does an excellent job directing, as well as co-writing and starring in this movie, as well as Emily Blunt and the other co-stars who fully achieve telling the story without the usual conventional dialogue.

The CGI monsters aren't as polished as they could be, but they still pose a threatening and frightening menace even though the film doesn't resort to jump scares to achieve terror.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the movie was produced by Michael Bay. Thankfully, there are no ear-splitting pyrotechnic displays to suggest this during the running time.



D: Michael Anderson
Rank (Ivan Foxwell)
UK 1966
105 mins


W: Harold Pinter [based on the novel "The Berlin Memorandum" by Adam Hall]
DP: Erwin Hillier
Ed: Frederick Wilson
Mus: John Barry

George Segal (Quiller), Max Von Sydow (Oktober), Alec Guinness (Pol), Senta Berger (Inge Lindt), George Sanders (Gibbs), Robert Helpmann (Weng), Robert Flemyng (Rushington)

The thinking man's James Bond, starring George Segal as Quiller, a British spy sent into post-war Germany to uncover a secret Nazi organisation.
The plot is rather thin, but the charismatic performance of the lead star make it an enjoyable watch. The look of the film is typically 60's, therefore it doesn't quite have the staying power of the 007 films.
"Meet the Marquis de Sade. The pleasure is all his."
"Meet the Marquis de Sade. The pleasure is all his."
D: Philip Kaufman
20th Century Fox/Fox Searchlight/Industry (Julia Chasman, Nick Wechsler & Peter Kaufman)
US/UK/Germany 2000
123 mins


W: Doug Wright [based on his play]
DP: Roger Stoffers
Ed: Peter Boyle
Mus: Stephen Warbeck 
PD: Martin Childs
Cos: Jacqueline West

Geoffrey Rush (Marquis de Sade), Kate Winslet (Madeleine LeClerc), Joaquin Phoenix (Abbé de Coulmier), Michael Caine (Dr. Royer-Collard), Billie Whitelaw (Madame LeClerc)

Geoffrey Rush delivers a fantastic performance as the Marquis de Sade during his imprisonment in Charenton asylum, where he overcomes all attempts to prevent him writing.
This film's strengths not only lie in the fantastic performances on display, but also the meticulous attention to period detail, which make it thoroughly convincing that this is a work of fantasy rather than fact.

"Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing."
"Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing."
D: Robert Redford
Hollywood/Wildwood/Baltimore (Robert Redford, Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin & Michael Nozik)
US 1994
132 mins
W: Paul Attanasio [based on the book "Remembering America: A Voice From The Sixties" by Richard N. Goodwin]
DP: Michael Ballhaus
Ed: Stu Linder
Mus: Mark Isham
PD: Jon Hutman
Ralph Fiennes (Charles van Doren), Rob Morrow (Richard N. Goodwin), John Turturro (Herb Stempel), Paul Scofield (Mark van Doren), David Paymer (Dan Enright), Hank Azaria (Albert Freedman), Christopher McDonald (Jack Barry)
Quiz Show is an intelligent dissection of both American media and the American dream, focusing on the real life scandal of a popular quiz show during the 1950's, which fed its most popular contestants the answers to the questions before the show went on air.
The most popular contestant at the time was Herbert Stemple (John Turturro), a Jew from Brooklyn who was experiencing more fame and fortune than he could dare dream. But after he loses his place on the pedestal to Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), college professor from a wealthy family, Stemple blows the whistle on the producers and Boston journalist Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) investigates.
Robert Redford's film is blessed with both superb acting performances and an intelligent screenplay of witty and incisive dialogue. 
If anything, it fails to answer the big $50,000 question, which is just left hanging at the end like an unwritten chapter. But then again, does anyone care?

D: Mervyn LeRoy
MGM (Sam Zimbalist)
US 1951
171 mins
W: John Lee Mahin, S. N. Behrani & Sonya Levien [based on the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz]
DP: Robert Surtees & William V. Skall
Ed: Ralph E. Winters
Mus: Miklos Rozsa
PD: Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfango & William Horning
Cos: Herschel McCoy
Robert Taylor (Marcus Vinicius), Deborah Kerr (Lygia), Peter Ustinov (Nero), Leo Genn (Petronius), Patricia Laffan (Poppaea), Finlay Currie (Peter)
Spectacular but stagebound and overlong epic soap opera set in Ancient Rome, where a commander falls in love with a Christian girl, but jealousy sees them both become an enemy to the Roman Empire.
At nearly three hours long, much of the film is moribund and rather heavy handed, but a handful of excellent performances and some very exciting set pieces break up the boredom. 
Worth a watch on a dreary bank holiday but it will mostly be appreciated for historical interest rather than entertainment value. It was, however, a huge hit when it was released in 1951 and is credited with saving MGM studio from near bankruptcy.
The title is Latin for "where are you going?"