DirectorAlex Chandon (2011)
StarringJo Hartley, Seamus O'Neill, Dominic Brunt
Find itIMDB

If there are two things in life that I love which others regularly fail to appreciate, it's the humble backwoods horror movie, and a little soap opera called Emmerdale. Never before have the twain met, until now. Not only is Inbred a little bit like Emmerdale anyway (in so much as it's set in a small country village) but it stars my favourite cast member of that soap opera too - Dominic Brunt, aka cuddly horse traumatised vet Paddy Kirk. Prior to watching Inbred, I was aware that Paddy from off've Emmerdale had made a horror movie, but had no idea that this was that movie. Imagine my thunderous joy when I saw Paddy from off've Emmerdale pop up, wielding a fucking chainsaw, no less.

The plot at first appears to offer nothing special. In fact, I was dreading watching Inbred, so fed up am I with half-arsed backwoods horror films. As two social workers take a van load of delinquent teenagers into the countryside in the hope of getting them to behave, they are beset by the village's contingent of inbred psychopaths. The story is like a cross between The League of Gentlemen (nothing to do with Alan Moore), Severance and 2001 Maniacs. It quickly becomes evident that Inbred is more than your average Texas Chain Saw Massacre rip-off.

Insanely gory, frequently funny and very violent, Inbred is tasteless, crass and often shocking. There are vegetables being shoved places where vegetables really shouldn't go, horses trampling people to death and a truly tremendous amount of exploding heads. Needless to say, this won't be to all tastes. The characters aren't particularly likeable, and too often the victims' acting descends into bouts of ear-piercing screaming and shrieking. Still, the kids are horrid enough that you can enjoy their Murder By Inbred, and the villains are fantastically realised. Pub landlord Jim (O'Neill) is a wonderfully gruff psychopath, and Paddy Brunt looks truly disturbing as chainsaw wielding Podge. Emmerdale Farm is a pretty terrible place to live anyway (a plane literally landed on it once, and a woman was exploded by lightning in a phone box) - Not for nothing do we refer to Emmerdale as 't'village of t'damned' in our house - so it's entirely appropriate that Inbred should feature one of its stars.   

With Pearl not around to keep an eye on things, standards at the veterinary practice went downhill fast.

Imaginative as it might be in places, there are of course clichés. I've not seen a backwoods horror movie in years that managed to avoid breaking out the bear traps, and Inbred is no different. However, it manages to dance around those clichés somewhat, using them in a manner one might not expect. Several plot points and scenes I recognised from the first time around they were done in Severance, but Inbred is more enjoyable than that Danny Dyer afflicted movie. Its sense of fun overpowers most of its flaws. It even imports its own version of Deliverance's duelling banjos in the form of the genuinely catchy 'eeh by gum'. Eeh by gum, it's good.

If you're easily amused, like myself, you can pretend that Inbred is one of those whimsical Emmerdale spin-off movies - that ask things like 'what if the Dingles won the lottery or went on holiday?' - taken to a terrifying extreme. This unlikely contender might just be my favourite backwoods horror movie of 2012. It's violent, funny and more than a little silly. Not sure I'll ever be able to look at Paddy from off've Emmerdale in the same light again, though.

Guinea Pig I: Devil's Experiment

Director: Satoru Ogura (1985)
Find it: IMDB

Pride myself, as I do, on having seen the worst of the worst horror movies in existence, there was no way I wouldn't eventually get around to seeing the Guinea Pig series. While it is nice to have added another notch to my horror movie bedpost (like a regular bedpost, except grottier), in the case of Guinea Pig, I wish I hadn't bothered.

Created before 'torture porn' was even a thing, Devil's Experiment has perhaps the flimsiest plot I have ever seen in a movie. It is literally nothing more than a series of torture sequences. The version of the DVD I watched had no English subtitles or dubbing, but not once did I miss them. It opens with a woman being slapped repeatedly around the face (which goes on for about five minutes) before moving on to more mental and penetrative tortures. But as our poor victim is slapped soundly around the chops over and over again, we can actually see the actor slapping his own hand to create the sharp striking sound. I'm sure it worked better on fuzzy old VHS, but some of these infamous tortures look remarkably shonky on DVD. Particularly daft is a bit in which the kidnappers tie their victim to an office chair and spin her round and round in circles until she gets sick.

Other tortures, however, are actually revolting. Maggots, fingernails and eyeballs are amongst the few things I can't be doing with in a film, and Devil's Experiment has all three. It's surprising that it was this film's sequel that gained most notoriety, since Devil's Experiment is by far the most memorable Pig. Of course, memorable doesn't always mean good. Devil's Experiment does its job (plotless nasty) just fine, but nothing else whatsoever. There's less going on than an episode of Dirty Sanchez or Jackass. It makes Captivity look densely plotted by comparison.

Like a ridiculously fast rollercoaster, the point with the Guinea Pig films isn't in the journey but rather the ride itself - it's a test of endurance; not something you watch because you like plot, or acting, or purpose. Which is good, because it doesn't have any of those things.

God Bless America

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait (2011)
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Melinda Page Hamilton
Find it: IMDB

A disenchanted office drone and a teenage psychopath embark upon a brutal killing spree inspired by the things that hack them off with modern life. On their kill list: noisy people in the cinema, xenophobic shock jocks and the stars of My Super Sweet Sixteen and American Idol. In a world in which people still read The Sun and Seth MacFarlane has three shows on television, God Bless America is very timely.

I might live all the way over here in wet, boring England (yes, I just had a cup of tea) but none of God Bless America was lost in translation. We invented Simon Cowell, after all - and our Daily Mail is just as bad as your Glenn Beck. There's a channel called BBC3 that shows Family Guy every night of the week. If that isn't a sign of the apocalypse, I don't know what is. With that in mind, I settled down watching Bobcat Goldthwait's satirical road trip movie hoping to see it set the world to rights.  

The dynamic of the film is like Falling Down meets Super (whose protagonist is also a man called Frank). Tara Lynne Barr's schoolgirl psychopath gives a turn so very similar to Ellen Page in the latter film that it's entirely appropriate that Frank (Murray) should dub her 'Juno'. While she is annoying, Barr's energetic performance prevents the film from getting too gloomy. With a very specific target list and modus operandi, Frank conducts his operation much like that other famous Frank, The Punisher. The humour is very black and downright cruel at times, but the film is silly enough that it tends not to stick in the mouth too much. An exception being Frank and Roxy's killing spree at the cinema - given recent events, it's a little too close for comfort.

A spiritual sequel to Idiocracy, the film owes a lot to the work of Mike Judge. Frank acts like a more mildly functional version of Office Space's Milton (and Murray is only a moustache away from looking like him) while the idiots so detested by Frank and Roxy are very Beavis and Butthead. Unfortunately, writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait's script lacks the precision of Judge's writing. By the time the film's fifteenth or so rant came about, I'd had enough. For every genuinely funny line or moment, there's Frank or Roxy giving a tired monologue about the state of the country or explaining why Alice Cooper is so awesome.

Where Super left us in little doubt that Red Bolt had serious mental health issues, God Bless America would have us see Frank and Roxy as heroes or anti-heroes, at worst. Sure, their targets are horrible (watching My Super Sweet Sixteen, I can empathise) but Frank and Roxy are imbeciles themselves.  Frank complains about the state of modern television, flicking through channel after channel of shite. We all feel like that sometimes, but hadn't he ever considered getting Netflix? Nothing like a four-season Breaking Bad marathon to restore one's faith in modern drama. I honestly consider American drama (Breaking Bad, Dexter, American Horror Story, True Blood, etc) to be the best in the world right now. Not a fan? Buy a DVD player. Nobody is making you watch that shit, dude. I agreed with most of Frank and Roxy's viewpoints (particularly the Alice Cooper thing) but their constant whining left me hating them by the end.

There is a difference between a screenplay and a diatribe. This is the latter. God Bless America sounds like the former. If I wanted to hear self-indulgent whingeing, I'd record a podcast and listen to that instead.       


Director: Pete Travis (2012)
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Heady
Find it: IMDB

Following the colourful, cartoonish mid-nineties Sylvester Stallone adaptation, Judge Dredd has gone all urban. Karl Urban, geddit. But also, grimmer, grittier and very dirty. It's a more realistic Mega City One than we've seen before, perhaps thanks to the film's relatively low budget. Glimpses of the future we recognise from the pages of 2000ad are there all right, but they're buried amongst battered vehicles and dirty architecture of our time - an uncomfortable mesh of the old and the new. All that stands between Mega City One and total chaos is the Judges - an elite force with the power to dispense instant justice. If Dredd is anything to go by, they massively favour the death sentence.

Very best of the Judges is Joe Dredd (Urban) - a jobsworth fascist who makes Dirty Harry look positively sparkling clean by comparison. Dredd has captured the essence of Dredd beautifully; he speaks in monotone, never once smiles and certainly doesn't take off his helmet. The uniform is very different (although it did put me in mind of Dredd's earlier appearances in 2000ad) and the helmet looks a bit too big, but this is Judge Dredd as I'd always imagined seeing him on the big screen. Urban thankfully resists the urge to go Full Christian Bale with the voice, which is gravelly but restrained.

In a plot which is like Training Day meets Die Hard, Dredd takes rookie Judge Anderson (Thirlby) on a routine training mission in the Big Meg. There, they are called to investigate a multiple homicide at Peach Trees block. At Peach Trees, they run afoul of gang lord (gang lady?) Ma-Ma Madrigal (Headey), Avon Barksdale from off've The Wire and a whole lot of heavily armed perps. Yes, it's like The Raid, except with Judge Dredd.

That growing feeling of intense disappointment I had while watching The Dark Knight Rises? Dredd was the complete opposite of that. I loved every single moment of it. Even the 3D, and I despise watching movies in 3D. It actually works very well in Dredd (I'm still not calling it Dredd 3D) particularly during the drug-induced Slow-Mo scenes. The action is intense, violent and incredibly gory. Heady's Ma-Ma is quietly menacing, Thirlby is adorably sympathetic as Anderson and Urban is an admirably terse Dredd.

There are, of course, criticisms. I'm a big Dredd fanboy, so some changes to the source material hurt more than others. The costume makes sense, but I'm not sure about the use of our modern vehicles on Mega City's roads. The action being largely set in Peach Trees makes for an incredibly tense movie, but I would also have liked to see more of the Big Meg. My biggest problem however, is with the language. I love fucking swearing as much as the next twat, but in Dredd, I thought it excessive. Dredd comics, see, come with their own profanisaurus, and I would have much preferred to see the characters shouting things like 'Drokk' and 'Grud' rather than boring old 'fuck' and 'shit'. It makes it seem grittier, but a 'Stomm' or two wouldn't have hurt. Likewise, it could maybe have used a little more humour and satire amongst all the bloodshed.

Dredd is a fantastic, mostly faithful adaptation of a series that really deserves the exposure. Despite some stiff competition, Dredd might be my favourite comic book adaptation of the year. Grud, it's good. 


Director: James Wan (2004)
Starring: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter
Find it: IMDB

Our semi-regular feature returns with Saw, a movie I didn't really like but couldn't turn down for £1. I've never watched it since buying the film, and probably never will. Still, at a quid, I maintain that it is a legitimate investment. Update: I sold it on eBay for £3.25. That's a lot of profit, given that I always deliberately overcharge for postage and packaging.

Se7en II: Saw stars Cary Elwes as Doctor Lawrence Gordon, a man kidnapped by the mysterious and elusive Jigsaw Killer. Together with a man who can't act and a corpse who can, Gordon is locked in a smelly bathroom and told to hack his foot off if he wants to survive. Meanwhile, other things are happening in the outside world. Wronged copper Danny Glover is on the hunt for Jigsaw, Gordon's wife (Monica Potter) and child (child) have been kidnapped and several unsavoury types fall victim to Jigsaw's little games. Despite the fact that nobody owns any lightbulbs and Cary Elwes sucks in this movie, Saw is a servicable enough little horror thriller type thing.

... and it stars Ben from off've LOST as a man called Zep.

Depending on your view of the movies, Saw has pretty much become tainted by its own sequels at this point - a byword for cheap schlock, seasonal moneygrabbing, lazy plot devices and an insistance on crowbarring Tobin Bell into flashbacks just for the sake of it. 

... and Miles from off've LOST as a man with a fat face

So Saw is a hard one for me to like now. I love (most of) its casting - Danny Glover, Monica Potter and the LOST alumni are good in everything - and the traps are admittedly quite inspired. It is what it is really; a passable Se7en rip-off with a few good twists and a neat concept. But like Freddy Kreuger and those damn cartoony sequels, it's become diluted by its own overexposure. And it's so self-serious that it's almost impossible to like. Whereas you want to see Freddy, Jason, Michael and Leatherface hack up the teens, Jigsaw is an irritating egoist with an overinflated sense of self-importance and whiny disposition. This is a man whose first thought after diagnosis with cancer is to build a bunch of silly traps with which he can torture crackheads and cheating doctors.

To be fair, if my doctor was as annoying as Cary Elwes is in this movie, I'd probably be tempted to lock him up in a toilet too. The lead performances in Saw are really pretty bad, all snot and overacting. Elwes and the crying photographer bloke are both outperformed by the supposedly (SPOILER) dead body with whom they share their lavatory. Good as Danny Glover is, even he doesn't seem to give much of a rat's ass about the film. Well, he is getting too old for this shit. Next up: Saw In A House with the Wahlberg that's not Marky Mark.

Slugs: The Movie

Director: Juan Piquer Simon (1988)
Starring: Michael Garfield, Kim Terry, Philip MacHale
Find it: IMDB

Slugs: The Movie, as opposed to slugs: the animals, I guess. You have to be pretty bad at life to get yourself killed by slugs, of all creatures, but that hasn't stopped Slugs: The Movie from making a film out of such a series of occurrences. Writer Shaun Hutson (upon whose novel this film is based) even managed to get two books out of the idea. It's a more daffy idea than most creature features, but Slugs has its icky charms.

As in the books, the death sequences in Slugs all have the feel of a pre-credits Casualty injury. There's the horny teenagers having sex (well, maybe you might find that in Casualty After Dark), the grumpy old chap in his greenhouse and the young woman preparing dinner. Each of them come to a grisly end thanks to the slugs, which alternate between looking like actual slugs and black turds with teeth.

I was putting the bins out, a few weeks ago, and I stood on a slug whilst wearing only socks on my feet. Slugs: The Movie manages to replicate that feeling throughout. It's a credit to the species' inherent nastiness (sorry, slugs) that the film manages to feel utterly repellent while also being really bad at the same time. I found myself itching all over several times, particularly during the opening credits and the sex scene. As cops pour over the aftermath of the sex/death by slugs scene for evidence, hero Mike Brady remarks on the slug trails left all over the floor. It is shocking that nobody makes a jizz joke. Wasted opportunities aside, I maintain that the film is properly nasty at times.

The rest of the time, it's hilarious bullshit. The exploding greenhouse scene is just great, as is a bit in which a slug eats a poor unsuspecting hamster. The acting is atrociously bad, all monotone deliveries and terrible monologues. A scientist gives a lecture on slugs to our heroes, describing the creatures as though no-one has ever seen a slug before in their lives. Mind, the film was made in 1988, long before the advent of Wikipedia. If you wanted to research a subject in those dark days, you had little option but to ask a scientist. A useless scientist, to boot. Even I could tell you that all you need is a bit of salt or a few half-full beer cans to be rid of the lettuce-munching menace, and I'm no Alan Titchmarsh. But no, I suppose blowing up the sewers beneath your own city is so much easier.

Slugs: The Movie is not very good. Its more gruesome scenes are very well done, but there's no escaping from the fact that slugs are a pretty rubbish threat (unless you're an idiot or a vegetable) and that the heroes could easily solve the problem with a few salt shakers and some common sense. That poster there though, redeems everything. 

Judge Dredd

No, he isn't.
Director: Danny Cannon (1995)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider
Find it: IMDB

With the reportedly not-bad Karl Urban chinned Dredd imminent, Sly Stallone's infamous 1995 adaptation no longer stings quite so much. It's still a stinky hunk of dystopian dung, but like Batman & Robin in the wake of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it feels a little more harmless now. Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd makes perhaps the biggest mistake a comic book movie can - it makes the thing less about the character and more a star vehicle. In this case, the star is Sylvester Stallone and the vehicle is a Lawmaster with a pissy seat.

Despite having the body and chin for the job, Stallone couldn't be more wrong for the role of Judge Joseph Dredd. He spends a total of ten minutes wearing the (fibreglass) helmet. Comic book Dredd has spent nearly 40 years wearing it, and we've still not seen his face. Not that it really matters in this case. Stallone in the helmet looks like Sylvester Stallone in a helmet. We all know what Sylvester Stallone looks like. 

In the year 2139, what remains of the world has been split up into 'Mega Cities', which are ruled by fascistic "Judges" - tough guys with the authoritah to arrest or execute criminals on the spot. Judge, Jury and Executioner as it were. Judge Dredd (Stallone) is the very best of the Judges. He establishes his dominance by saying things like "I am the law", which is fine, and "I knew you were gonna say that," which is not fine. Judge Dredd has more catchphrases than Little Britain, none of which are in any way amusing. As mumbled by Stallone, he sounds more like Marion Cobretti in a stupid fibreglass helmet than Judge Dredd.

As if the bastardisation of Dredd himself wasn't enough, Rob Schneider and Diane Lane are on hand as comic relief and love interest, respectively. Lane does okay as Judge Hershey (although someone a little stronger might have been better, such as Sigourney Weaver) but there's no excusing Rob Schneider. I'm a massive Rob Schneider apologist (I actually love his Big Stan) but his pissing all over the back seat of Judge Dredd's (flying) bike is indefensible. 

Armand Assante does better as clone brother Rico Dredd (who doesn't look like Dredd or Fargo, the man they are both clones of) but isn't given much to work with. It's standard villain fare, and the finale is more than a little reminiscent of Stallone's own Demolition Man. Despite the silliness, some of the characters do actually look the part - particularly the Angel Gang (one of whom is Hershel from off've The Walking Dead) and ABC Warriors' Hammerstein. The Angel Gang sequence is actually pretty good, even if it is disappointing that they don't eat Schneider. Hammerstein looks good but lacks any personality whatsoever. Which is a pretty accurate summary of the rest of the film, actually. Mega City One looks great; exactly as I'd imagined it reading the comics. It's very Blade Runner influenced, but that's no bad thing. Likewise, the opening bit is a lot of fun and a solid introduction to the character. Unfortunately, it's all spoiled as soon as Judge Dredd takes off the helmet.

Judge Dredd is an awful film, a missed opportunity and terrible waste of the character. Thankfully, this year's reboot looks to undo at least some of that hurt. With that in mind, maybe we can enjoy Judge Dredd on another level or two, like Batman & Robin or Daredevil. Ironically enjoyable? I knew you were gonna say that.

[REC] Genesis

Director: Paco Plaza (2012)
Starring: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin, John Sponge
Find it: IMDB

'And now', as Monty Python would put it, 'for something completely different.' It's no exaggeration when I say that [REC] is possibly my favourite found footage horror movie of all time. Although, seeing as I hate most of the others, that's not saying much. It's also one of my favourite zombie films of all time. The sequel, whilst mostly more of the same, is very good too. Given the bombshell which [REC] 2 left us with, this prequel drops the ball enormously. In fact, it's almost the most disappointing threequel of 2012.

[REC] Genesis doesn't have Tom Hardy doing an accent that I literally laughed at every time he came on-screen. It doesn't have a man's spine being repaired with rope and a hole. It doesn't even have a completely predictable ending which is telegraphed miles in advance. No, it has a man called John Sponge (who is actually dressed as a sponge) and a protagonist doing his best Inigo Montoya impression. For the purposes of this prequel, [REC] Genesis is transformed into a comedy-horror hybrid, whether the cap fits or not. Not once is Genesis as scary or even mildly unsettling as its predecessors. I love comedy horror (it's perhaps my favourite brand of horror) but only when it makes sense. Granted, this review is but a smokescreen for my unpopular opinions regarding The Dark Knight Rises, but I was still quite disappointed.    

Were it not for the [REC] brand, I would have loved Genesis. It's cruel, insanely gory, stupid and there are even chainsaws. It's not even a bad movie. There are some funky Spanish songs accompanying the violence, and the central romance is genuinely quite sweet. All in all, it sounds like a recipe for a horror movie I'm guaranteed to love. But I watched [REC] Genesis hoping to see a [REC] film. If I wanted to see a silly knockoff, I'd watch Quarantine 2 again*. Who knew that, outside of the infamous Barcelona apartment block, there was a goofy horror comedy going on. Talk about that reporter lady being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those less enamoured with the franchise as I might enjoy Genesis. It's better than a lot of new zombie horror  releases out there, and even manages to be quite inventive at times. But as a successor (or precursor) to two of the best horror movies of recent years, it's bloody useless.

* I wouldn't. Nothing could ever make me watch Quarantine 2 again.