The Strangers (DVD Review)

15 – 85mins – 2008


 

DOLL-FACED KILLERS

With the belated and long-teased sequel Prey At Night just opening Stateside (it was originally announced for a 2009 release date before entering development hell for the best part of a decade), I thought it was high-time I got my act together and finally watched the first Strangers film. Now TEN years old, the DVD has been lingering on my to-watch pile for far too long.

… Keep Scuttling!

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (Blu-ray Review)

15 – 99mins – 2016


 

THE MYSTIFYING ORACLE

“This game was designed to make us scare ourselves.”

My questionable foray into Whaley House aside, my film viewing in the run-up to Halloween largely consisted of rewatching recent blu-rays I have bought (The Boy, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Witch) and first time viewings of genre classics I really should have seen sooner (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Critters). So, on All Hallows’ Eve, I reserved a recent release I had long anticipated… what a fool I was!

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Kindergarten Cop 2 (DVD Review)

12 – 96mins – 2016


 

CRISS CROSS APPLESAUCE

“Let’s put the mac and cheese back on the stove and get this playdate started!”

KC2 is a most curious thing. Watched in isolation away from the early 90s Arnold Schwarzenegger classic it follows on from, it is a perfectly competent, if lightweight, action-comedy which once again trades on the dichotomy between a hulking, stone-faced FBI agent (step up Dolph Lundgren) and a gaggle of hyperactive, allergy-aware, accident prone pre-schoolers.

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Jaws: The Revenge (Blu-ray Review)

12 – 90mins – 1987


 

THIS TIME IT’S PERISHABLE

My overriding takeaway from watching this great white four-quel in my youth was one of complete astonishment: astonishment at how poor the shark looked despite being made 12years after Spielberg’s Oscar-winning original; astonishment at the laughable number of movie magic-ruining continuity errors; astonishment that original star Lorraine Gary and megastar Michael Caine were happy to have their names attributed to such a sorry production. Even as a child I knew this was so-bad-it’s-hilarious.

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Smokey and the Bandit II (Blu-ray Review)

Image result for smokey and the bandit II

ATTENTION ALL YOU SOMBITCHES!

My series of reviews inspecting and dissecting the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy of action-comedies (which I started right HERE with the 1977 original) has hot-wheeled it over to the 80’s Picture House for film number two, so follow the link RIGHT HERE to ride on over to read my thoughts on the Burt Reynolds/Sally Field-starring sequel which was originally titled Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again.

… Keep Scuttling!

Doctor Who: The Movie (Blu-ray Review)

12 – 86mins – 1996


 

AN EYE FOR A LIFE

A staple of BBC programming for years before and after, this TV Movie – broadcast in May of 1996 but set on New Year’s Eve 1999 – is something of a black sheep in the serialised sci-fi family drama’s cannon. Premiering during the “wilderness years” after its 1989 cancellation it was intended as a backdoor pilot to a revived series, but never capitalising on its renewed interest in the dormant property. Doctor Who wouldn’t return to weekly episodes for almost another decade.

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Bride of Frankenstein (Blu-ray Review)

15 – 75mins – 1935 – B&W


 

THE MONSTER’S MATE

“Be fruitful and multiply!”

Despite some flagrant concessions to lazy sequel syndrome (both ‘dead’ leads from 1931’s adapted predecessor conveniently survived apparent deaths; the same ‘man thrown from precipice’ climax is recycled) and yet more awkward tonal shifts from Universal Studio’s go-to director, James The Invisible Man Whale (from inhumane horror to hysterical humour in the space of a poorly-delivered line), this universe-broadening follow-up is otherwise an all-together superior and more refined monster.

A remarkably post-modern framing device sets the quality bar sky-high from the off, with Bride introduced by Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) ‘herself’, niftily recanting the original tale and teasing her lofty literary circle of Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton) that more is to come…

“The monster lived right through the fire…”

By bringing back both human catalyst Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his lumbering creation (Boris The Mummy Karloff), and by using the controversial scientist’s flamboyant Peter Cushing-esque mentor, Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), to coerce a “supreme collaboration” in the unholy quest to make life in God’s own image, you could accuse screenwriter William Hurlbut of orchestrating a carbon rehash of the urtext’s plot. The third time you hear the iconic catchphrase, you might feel things are being played far too safe.

However, some truly gobsmacking FX (for its day) in bringing Pretorius’ “mini monarchs” to life, and some gravitas-delivering character development for Karloff’s shamed outcast-in-hiding truly elevates this envelope-pushing production. The scene is cribbed from the hiding in a shed subplot described in Shelley’s original text (“Alone, bad. Friend, good”), but such emotional depth was largely absent from the first film, much to its detriment.

Elsa Lanchester has an electrifying effect in the second of her dual roles. Despite a scandalous lack of screen time (all of 5 climatic minutes), her twitchy and erratic portrayal of the titular mate-order Bride is an iconic revelation, delivering a cruel and crushing judgement to the hopeful-yet-ignorant Monster which makes for a bravely downbeat last-gasp dénouement: “We belong dead.”

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars