Strange Nature

A guest review by Spencer Hackett

Environmental horror meets body horror this time with Strange Nature. Not got much idea about this other than it claims to be “The first film to expose unsolved wildlife deformity outbreaks and where they may lead” according to IMDB. I’m pretty sure that isn’t true, I’ve seen plenty of mutant fish/mutant beastly eat people films, but perhaps it isn’t going to go that way. It’s directed by James Ojala, who started out doing effects for Troma, then has done makeup on Thor and X Men and that sort of stuff, so I’m expecting some good gore. This is his feature film debut and doesn’t appear mad high on the budget scales. Lisa Sheridan is the lead role of Kim Sweet, along with a relatively unknown supporting cast. And you know the drill, spoilers ahead, so jump to the little paragraph at the bottom for my overall thoughts.

I like these retro type titles, very John Carpenter. Although why are some letters bigger than others, that “I” is massive. Oh is it to do with the abnormalities in the fishes and stuff, clever…

NEWS MONTAGE, love a news montage.

Based on a true story my ass.

Did she just tell her son to suck it…

That dogs not making it, bet you now. Also who calls a dog kinky.

God I hate this child.

Not more children…

Dogs pregnant, those puppies are doomed.

Oooooo hand impalement.

Oh my god it’s Kid Rock!!!!

I have nothing to say…

I love that the frogs are clearly stock footage.

I don’t think the primary school science teacher is the best authority to warn about fucked up frogs. (Note to self, fucked up frogs is a great band name)

That scene didn’t need a fade to black.

So the Mom was a pop star, and she doesn’t like it, does this mean we get a big sing off moment at the end? (Ed’s note – hopefully)

Ok, so what happened when she was a pop star, people don’t just hate you for being a pop star, so she must be a cock.

I still have nothing

I think this is the most detestable kid since that one from The Strain, who was just a more irritating, twelvie version of Carl from WD. I think Stranger Things has spoilt us with great child actors.

This ambience is a loop, I just heard it end and start again. Crickets giving the game away.

Oh yeah forgot the grandad was ill.

If they keep doing the POV monster I’m going to be forced to presume it’s just a perv with a camera attacking people, and that’s disappointing.

Put your eyebrows down grandad your freaking me out. (That’s in the film not real life, my grandad is not in the room).

Can we have a name for the deformed girl, it feels a bit horrendous that’s she’s just the deformed girl so far.

Those are tan lines, that may be drawn on, as they’re darker at the line than anywhere else.

Well furries was the last thing I expected to turn up here…

Kid Rock’s back, and he hates the disabled, probably like the real Kid Rock.

Is this a city? This looks more like a town, does it have a cathedral? Also this is going all Jaws, including the mayor refusing to stop people going in the water. (They even just acknowledged it)

This pop career thing is one of the strangest sub plots I’ve seen, rivals Night of the Bloody Apes wrestling plot.

The ambience loop is back, same one from last time.

That is not newsprint, that’s printer print.

That is a weirdly dark dining situation. I’ve seen more light in power cut scenes in films than round this dinner table, God’s sake.

Spam, yummy.

This lighting is really disparate between these angles.

Telling my depressing life story to school teachers is really what gets me going aswell…

Those are some seriously CGI Flies.

Oh it’s a Lovecraftian fish person, although I’m not sure if it was real, cus she woke up. (Post watch edit: this wasn’t cleared up, I’m none the wiser)

Dark Corners of the Earth
Yes! Another chance to reference Dark Corners of the Earth – Ed

This has cranked up out of nowhere. Told you the puppies were doomed. That kid went into the water for no reason, he’s doomed too.

That snail drawing has more detail than necessary. That’s not science fiction, that’s science FACT!!!!

Get fucked Kid Rock.

This guy has really sweaty nips, it’s a little strange.

Kid Rock just did the Age Of Barbarian face, it was so spot on.

Fish baby. It’s unnerving, I think cus it’s making proper baby noises, not monster noises, they’ve actually dealt with this fairly well I think, it’s made me a bit sad.

I wish the snails had Muppet Babies not parasite babies.

How many people in this town were pregnant? It’s only small and there are two babies born and one on the way. Wait is that another one, there really must be something in the water…

To be honest the little shit kid beating up the shitter kids with his rucksack was pretty cool.

Now she’s up the duff aswell, now I understand why she nobbed the teacher, because plot reasons.

Ew heck. Wait a minute is that dog wood panelled inside?

That transition…

Kid Rock is an effective scumbag I must say, that may be that he only turns up to be a scumbag and then disappears again.

Well that came out of nowhere.

This randomly got really dark.

It’s literally too dark to see the monster, I’m at full brightness and I can just see vague fur.

That kids very chill about multiple homicides.

How many shotgun shells does she have?

This dog/wolf monster is ripping off The Thing big time (Carpenter’s, not the big rock guy)

Has the kid got a cold in this scene? Most definitely, it’s how I’ve sounded all week.

Do people still fist bump? (Ed – Wait. I still do. Does that mean I’m no longer cool? My assistant Janice is supposed to keep me up to date with things like this. Janice? JANIIIICE? WHERE ARE YOU?)

The hats not part of the baby kiddo, it can’t be your favourite part.

Well that was a cheesy ass ending, but in a good way.

I’ll be honest I quite enjoyed that, it’s not going to win any Oscars anytime soon but I was never bored. I do think it’s an acquired taste, not being the most exciting, action packed film in the world, and not being that tense either. But I found the characters interesting enough and the make up effects were pretty decent once the more horror elements did kick in. I think as far as low budget debuts go, this was pretty good. I’ve certainly seen far far worse films (check out my Death Kiss review if you haven’t already). I think this has that thing of being made with enough care and passion for film that it buys it a lot of good will. I will say don’t watch it for any sort of environmental warning, you’ve seen it before. It feels like the sort of vague connection to current affairs a biology teacher would use to have a lesson off and leave students in front of a film, but that’s about it. Overall it’s a recommend from me, mainly for horror fans who won’t mind the obvious low budget and slower pace.

Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018) A SPOILER FREE Review (for a change)
a guest review by Spencer Hackett

If you’d have told me I’d have been excited to see a new Halloween film a few years ago I’d have called you a liar. If you told me I’d be really excited about a new Halloween film made by the guys that made Pineapple Express, I’d probably have discounted anything you ever said or would say. But that’s exactly what has happened. So eagerly I got to the cinema as soon as I could to watch David Gordon Green’s rebooted, sequel thing that annoyingly has just been called Halloween (side note, can this stop, it was bad enough with games like Doom and God Of War, I don’t need it in cinema’s aswell). I’d avoided trailers and most reviews, other than seeing that mostly people had liked it, making sure my enjoyment wasn’t spoiled in any way. Anyway, to cut to the chase, it’s good, pretty damn good in fact. I know for some people that’ll be enough, but for anyone who wants a proper review, keep reading. This time I promise that there won’t be spoilers other than some character names and the scantest of plot details that I’ll need to even vaguely write this, but nothing that you won’t find from just popping on IMDB for two seconds.

I’ll start off with the fact I love the original, but that love came slowly. It was one of my least favourite slashers to begin with, lacking the camp, gory fun of Friday the 13th or the sheer terror of Texas Chain Saw Massacre. However that’s changed and I’ve learned to love it and it’s now probably one of my favourite films ever. I quite liked 2 as well and 3, although that’s ones not relevant to this conversation. I also do like Rob Zombies original remake, even if it doesn’t strike me as the most in keeping with Halloween lore and the eerie creepiness of the original. I know defending that has probably just lost me some credibility, but stick with me. If you found Zombie’s film ruined the mystique of Myers then you’re in luck. This is Halloween as Carpenter-esque as you can get without the master behind the lens.

Without spoiling the plot at all, this is mainly because this film treats Myers as the boogeyman he was in the original, an unstoppable killing machine that just looks awesome, whether he’s imposingly stood over a victim or ominously loitering in the background of shots. This film nails that mix of terror and excitement the best slasher villains have, and it’s all the better for it. Myers is a lot more brutal here than the original, mainly due to the obvious increase in budget, but this isn’t a gore flick, and you’ll be disappointed if that’s what you’ve come for. Myers is still more effective as just being freakily evil and emotionless, like that original incarnation. Myers is played by two actors here, James Jude Courtney for the heavy lifting, and Nick Castle, one of the many original Myers actors from the first film (he’s the one that is in most of the original). Just giving a shout out to the mask design for this as well, it looks worn without looking tacky, and really does capture the sense of the original design.

Plot wise we have two scenarios playing out, Michael versus the occupants of Haddonfield, and Michael versus Laurie Strode, played by a returning Jamie Lee Curtis (who’s clearly loving being in this, she gives the performance of her career in my opinion). Both work in their own right, I just wish they married up better. For once a horror film has teenagers that A. are actually likeable, and B. Reminded me of actual teenagers, which is amazing. Also we get a fantastic performance from a kid (Jibrail Nantambu) who literally steals the film out from under everyone to be my favourite character in any film this year,. Put this kid in more films, he’s ace. But sometimes these scenes feel so isolated from Laurie’s story, the clear central narrative, that they feel almost perfunctory. I don’t think they hurt the film in anyway, and it really helps the pacing as it means you get a kill every few minutes, I just feel that at some point they had more weight. This may have something to do with the roughly half an hour cut out for pacing reasons. That being said what characters we do get are really interesting, Allyson played by newcomer Andi Matichak is great and I hope she gets the scream queen status Curits gained for the original. I just wish it all tied together more, but then I’d have little to complain about at all.

On the technical side the films very well done. Green has an eye for set pieces and how to shoot them, including a lovely extended steady cam shot that has really stuck in my mind. Cinematographer Michael Simmonds clearly loves flashing police lights, but overall does well to keep a very dark film clear, something that cant be said for some big budget films I’ve seen recently. Seriously if you want to shoot in the dark that’s fine, but just make sure we can actually see what’s going on. Fortunately we don’t have that issue here. What we do have are lots of nice homages to not only the original, but a lot of the sequels as well, which is a really nice touch for fans. I’m sure you already know that Carpenter returned to score this film, along with band mates Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies. It cannot be over stated how much this helps the film feel just like Halloween should. It was a joy to hear the iconic theme in an auditorium, along with many other familiar motifs. I rushed to order the soundtrack as soon as I got home from the screening, so that’s a sign that it’s ace.

Overall I think what we have here is a great, passionately made fan film. Don’t let that sound like a bad thing, this is a film made by fans of the original for fans of the original. I will advice anyone who wants to see this who hasn’t seen the original to watch it before hand. The new film makes little accommodation if you haven’t seen the original, and you’re just missing out anyway. But if you have seen it and were worried this was going to disappoint, don’t. It’s by no means perfect, I do think the film stumbles over its two plots, but my God does it pull them back together. I’ll end by saying that I’ve been disappointed by lots of horror film climax’s recently, that they feel like the worst part of the film. That’s not the case here, it’s one of the best horror finales I’ve seen in ages, for easily one of my favourite films of the year.

Johnny Gruesome

Sober edit – there are spoilers. Also, reading back, I think I was marvellously drunk.

Well, I like the name anyway… And METAL. Just like my teens.

Daytime. I don’t get to watch many films that have daytime. Or locations. Or cars. Or extras.

Shades perched on the tip of his nose. How remarkably 80s.

Man O’War. Awesome.

Death to false metal

Usually, the metaller gets a beat down early, then his revenge.

Nice house for a dead beat dad. His dad reminds me of someone.

Well that escalated quickly.

Why didn’t they gout of the car to help? Now violins have happened.

How do you make strangulation look like an accident?

Kind of a low key reason for revenge.

C’mon. Of course they’d know. That car wasn’t subtle.

Interesting acting by the dad.

Another Man O’War t’shirt.

This is the film of someone who was bullied. Or who has other cause to hate bullies.

He was a jerk, but that’s a bit much.

Now a Gwar t-shirt.


That’s quite a good severed head. I’ve always wondered how that must feel to an actor, seeing their own severed head.

“Oh God. You killed Todd.”

His choice of victims seems a bit random. A lot of films like this don’t seem to have a moral centre.

A Gwar t-shirt again?


She’d be better off with a water pistol.

Well that was original – the human haggis.


Knife to meet you.

Oh crikey. What bullshittery is this?

Sober edit – so, yeah. You can probably see I was more drunk than usual when doing this one. I would apologise for the rambling, but, well, the rambling’s what drunken reviews are all about (and for me, I love it when I read my reviews back and have no idea what I was talking about).