It took me far too long to watch this tribute to the classic RoboCop, as midwifed by the Channel 101 community (yep, it’s still going), but I’m glad I did, because it’s fucking hilarious!
Why all the hate? Granted, it’s a shameless rip of Men In Black (substituting aliens with dead people) and with no one to really play the funny man, it’s definitely lacking that humour element to balance its more serious side (represented mostly by Stephanie Szostak, who comes off as far too good for the over-the-top shenanigans around her). But in and of itself, it’s no disaster: a solid, pacy, decent-looking action romp with able leads in Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges (who looks to be having fun with his 18th-century lawman schtick) who make up with their bristly chemistry what they lack in charisma. No one embarrasses themselves. I thought it was fine. Better than director Robert Schwentke’s RED, at any rate, though I’ll give that it fits right in to the ‘Wednesday night movie’ genre.
The Editor, ironically, could have done with an edit. Indie collective Astron-6, in their gleeful spirit of affectionate parody and pastiche, try to fit in a bit too much of everything into a conspicuously self-aware production that bleeds from giallo spoof into whacked-out, deliberately nonsensical Italo horror. That, and the (in)jokes – or more like the same handful of gags, repeated and repeated – wear thin long before the end. But I can’t fault them for trying. Besides, it looks fantastic throughout. As an advert for their wares? I’m sold.
First viewing of the 2003 ‘Director’s Cut’, not that it really makes much of a difference either way as it’s essentially the same film, and still unimpeachable in its marriage of gothic sci-fi and stalk-and-slash horror. Pitch-perfect performances by all, especially the hard-nosed Sigourney Weaver in her star-making turn, but not ignoring the incredible production and sound design that really make the film what it is. I much prefer the Ridley Scott who made gritty, haunting films like this and Blade Runner, not the one who lost his nerve in the mid ’80s and never truly recovered.
Deathgasm puts high school metalhead comedy through the meat grinder of Peter Jackson’s earlier, crazier films to enjoyably tasteless effect. Likeable cast, gratuitously over-the-top effects and a full awareness of its subject matter combine to make one of the year’s better horrors (even if it’s not really a horror in the ‘scary movie’ sense).
Banshee Chapter is a mess of ideas – MKULTRA, mind control drugs, HP Lovecraft’s ‘From Beyond’, cheap haunted house scare tactics – that falls far short of the calibre of its cast, with a strong female lead in Katia Winter and Ted Levine as a HST-inspired gonzo journalist.