Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Last of Us: American Dreams Graphic Novel Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks
Art By Faith Erin Hicks and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering By Clem Robbins
Cover By Julian Totino Tedesco

Published By Dark Horse Books

Genre
Action, Horror, Game Tie In

Synopsis

Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann and rising comics star Faith Erin Hicks team up for the comics-exclusive first chapter of the wildly anticipated new game, The Last of Us!  

Nineteen years ago, a parasitic fungal outbreak killed the majority of the world's population, forcing survivors into a handful of quarantine zones.

Thirteen-year-old Ellie has grown up in this violent, post pandemic world, and her disrespect for the military authority running her boarding school earns her new enemies, a new friend in fellow rebel Riley, and her first trip into the outside world, where she is confronted with a dangerous insurgent group — and with the monstrous victims of infection!

Review

As a fan of the game 'The Last of Us' I was massively looking forward to getting to read this four issue mini series.  The idea of getting to see some of the back story that was only hinted at during the game really excited me but would the story itself live up to that?

That's a resounding no.

What we have here is a dull and lifeless cash in that doesn't really add anything at all to the happenings in the game and if I'm completely honest, actually really made me start to hate the character of Ellie.  In the game, she's seen as vulnerable yet a strong willed young lady but here, she's nothing like that at all.  In fact, quite the opposite.  She's massively unlikeable and I ended up reading through the story wanting something to happen to her just to shut her up.  All she seemed to do was bitch and cuss.

Another thing that really bugged me was that while this is a prequel so to speak, the parts that linked to the game itself felt rather forced and strained.  

Art wise, Hicks has a reputation that had me really eager to see her art here and see how she would link her art style to the story.  While the art is good, nothing about it really jumped out at me.  In fact, when I had finished the book itself,  I couldn't really remember all that much about the art and that's a real shame because Hicks is a great artist.  It just felt like there wasn't much room for her work to come alive.

All in all, unless you absolutely have to have everything to do with 'The Last of Us' then I would give this a miss. The story didn't grip me at all and the art just didn't come alive.  In fact, these issues made me start to hate the character of Ellie and I'm pretty sure that wasn't the result they wanted from the issues.

Story 4/10
Art 5/10
Cover 5/10
Recommended 5/10
Overall 19/40

The Crow: Curare Graphic Novel Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By James O'Barr
Art By Antoine Dode and Jose Villarrubia (Issue 3 Only)
Lettering By Shawn Lee
Cover By Antoine Dode

Published By IDW Publishing

Genre
Crime, Thriller, Supernatural

Synopsis

Retired Detroit police officer Joe Salk was a good cop, but after a little girl's murder, his wife left him because of his obsession to find her killers.

Now completely alone, his need for revenge might just be helped by the young victim, returned and empowered by the spirit of vengeance, the Crow…

Review

As a massive fan, although my girlfriend would probably say fanatic instead, of the original 'The Crow' comic book and movie, I was massively excited to get my hands on this graphic novel to read.

After read the mini series 'Skinning the Wolves' by O'Barr, I was massively impressed with how he set that one during the Holocaust without falling in to melodramatics.  This one would take an equally dark and disturbing story and attempt to do the same.

Here, O'Barr has crafted a brilliantly written and heart wrenching tale of the evil that men and women are more than willing to inflict on one another.  In this case, the murder of a little girl and a detective who is haunted that he hasn't solved the case.

The story of the detective struggling in such a way isn't original in the comic world but O'Barr manages to make the story his own entirely.  The way he portrays the man as being completely broken, lost to grief and guilt and trying to drink himself in to an early grave is masterful.  I couldn't put the story down and even though I'd already read the tale in comic book form, the graphic novel version still gripped me as if I had never read it before.

The intelligence of the writing really is an improvement on 'Skinning the Wolves'.  As much as I loved that series, this one blew it out of the water for me.

However that's not where the real strength of this release comes from.  That's the superb art work by Antoine Dode.  I wasn't all that aware of Dode's work before I saw it here but I'm most definitely going to be checking out more.  His painted style artwork gives the entire story a slightly otherworldly feel to it, as if it's reality but not quite.  I felt that this style really added to the emotion that O'Barr's writing brought forth and at the same time kept the writer hooked on to what was going on.  The artwork was so beautiful that while harrowing in places, I couldn't take my eyes off of the panel work.

It's the same with the cover art.  The picture really tells the story of the detective in one swoop with some equally as fantastic art.  The way Dode has drawn the detective here really shows just how far he has fallen without giving any of the story away.

If you are a fan of the series of 'The Crow' series or a fan of James O'Barr's work then this is well worth picking up.  It doesn't reach the height of the original but it has emotional depth and the art by Dode makes the book worth buying just for that alone.

Story 8/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 34/40

'The Crow: Curare' is available to buy from December 3rd

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Win 1 of 3 Copies of Anno 1790 on DVD!!! (UK Entries Only)


Hello Misfits,

Thanks to those lovely people at Arrow Films, we have 3 copies of the complete first season box set of the superb historical crime thriller series 'Anno 1790'.

To win one of three copies of this fantastic series just answer this simple question.

The series is set in Stockholm but what country is that in?

Send your answers to patrickstevenchallis@gmail.com and good luck.

Closing dates for entries is Tuesday 5th of November 2013 so good luck and release your inner misfit!

The Wizard of Oz (Capstone Young Readers Version) Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Beth Bracken
Adapted From the Movie Screenplay By Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf
Screenplay Based on the Novel By L. Frank Baum

Published By Capstone Young Readers, Picture Window Books

Genre
Childrens, Fantasy, Adventure, Movie Tie In

Synopsis

Film stills and original dialogue from the beloved movie The Wizard of Oz tell the tale of a young girl named Dorothy who flies over the rainbow with her dog, Toto, befriends a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a Lion on a yellow brick road to the Emerald City, and defeats a Wicked Witch before meeting a Wizard and learning that there's no place like home.

For ages 3-8.

*The 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
*3D re-mastering of the film for DVD/Blu-ray release in Fall 2013
*Created using film stills, this picture book is a great introduction to the movie
 
*The Wizard of Oz movie facts:
- Over 11 million DVDs sold to-date
- The film will be re-released in Fall 2013
- The film was Nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won 2
- The film was ranked #1 on the American Film Institute's list of "100 Greatest Fantasy Films of All Time"

Review

The Wizard of Oz is a movie that  I have loved since I was a kid and have then passed that love on to my little lad, who is 4.

When I saw that there was going to be a book for children his age that told the legendary story using stills from the movie itself, I literally jumped at the chance to read it to him and review it for the site and I most definitely wasn't disappointed.

Beth Bracken has done an absolutely brilliant job of bringing the charm, the fun and the magic of the movie itself in to his book and it's laid out so well that it's a positively gorgeous book to share with your little ones.  The pictures and the great choices of fonts really work together to make this a book that will more than hold your child's attention for the entire story.  In fact, when I read this to my little lad, he was hooked from the very first page and wanted me to read it again as soon as I had finished.

I haven't rated the cover due to it being a photograph of the cast from the movie but it just suits the book perfectly because it has a nice classic look to it and that really does the book itself justice.

If you are looking for a classic story that will grip the little ones then look no further.  This is a well crafted version of an old favorite that more than deserves to be in a families collection.

Story 9/10
Characters 9/10
Cover N/A
Recommended 9/10
Overall 27/30

Batgirl: Volume 3 - Death of the Family Graphic Novel Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Gail Simone, Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder
Art By Ed Benes, Daniel Sampere, Greg Capullo, Julius Gopez, Jonathan Giapion, Mark Irwin, Vicente Cifuentes and Admira Wijayadi
Cover By Ed Benes

Published By DC Entertainment

Genre
Superhero, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

Gail Simone continues her Batgirl run in a tale that ties into the best-selling Bat-Family event "Death of the Family." 

When the Joker returns, Barbara Gordon must confront her past as she deals with the crazed criminal responsible for crippling her. 

Plus, once the dust settles, Barbara must deal with her family demons as her psychotic brother James Jr. comes after her.

Review

So far, I've read two graphics set during the 'Death of the Family' story.  'Batman: Volume 3' was absolutely superb and one of the best Batman volumes that I had read for a very long time.  'Catwoman: Volume 3' however was very disappointing and all over the place.

This one however, was much better.  I will admit that it wasn't up to the massively high standard set by the Batman installment penned by Scott Snyder but at the same time, it came pretty close to it.

The story involving Batgirl's role in the 'Death of the Family' story line was incredibly well done.  I liked the fact that there were links to the other stories yet you can also read it as a standalone title as well.  That side of things were really chilling and effective.  This was because of the superb writing by Gail Simone.  She really manages to write Batgirl in such a way that it makes a character that I wasn't brilliantly enamored with and makes her in to a character that I want to read more of.

One of the problems with this title was the fact that the story sometimes flits from so many different points of view that it can sometimes get a bit muddled.  The other thing that bugged me a bit was the fact that they reprinted part of the Batman story from the 'Death of the Family' crossover.   Having not long read it in 'Batman: Volume 3', it felt rather unneeded and a bit over kill.

I also really enjoyed the story involved James Gordon Jr. as well.  That story is quite creepy and supremely well written.The fact that they included the story in the end of this collection, leading to a brilliant cliffhanger was a bold and effective move.  It left me wanting to get my hands on the next volume as soon as possible.

The art here is quite varied in that there are a few parts of the book that really splash out in an orgy of colors and movement and there are others that are dark and creepy, yet they work very well together.  Considering the sheer amount of artists that worked on this set of stories that it would come across as disjointed but somehow they managed to gel them together nicely.

Cover wise, Ed Benes does a great  job of creating a cover that really hooks the reader in to wanting to see just what is inside the graphic novel.  There's a feeling of dread and danger in the art for the cover and that's exactly what is needed for this storyline.

All in all, this volume is much better than the Catwoman one, in fact it came very close to matching the utterly brilliant Batman one.  The only thing keeping the title from getting a higher score was the fact that they felt the need to reprint part of the Batman story and that there were a couple of moments that felt a little bit muddled.

This is still definitely well worth picking up.

Story 7/10
Art 7/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 30/40

Monday, 28 October 2013

Our Zombie Mother Press Release


New start-up series Our Zombie Mother’s pint-sized star, Tyler Griffin, recently made HUGE waves in the horror community when he made his big screen debut as Young Parker in Insidious: Chapter 2!

Tyler has this to say about being on set with James Wan, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and all the rest: “It was fun making a lot of friends on set, not just with other actors but with the director and crew and especially the studio teacher. I still had to do my homework too! But the actor that was my best friend on set was probably Lin.”

Not only did Tyler have a super time shooting on location in real creepy old houses, he also got to attend the premiere screening that was recently held in Universal City, Los Angeles, and to sign autographs on the red carpet! Here’s a clip of Tyler and his sister, Naomi Griffin, who also stars in Our Zombie Mother and whose film, A House Is Not A Home, recently won accolades at the Burbank International Film Festival, signing at the premiere:

Tyler and Naomi Clip

Tyler had to keep his involvement in Insidious: Chapter 2 a secret for quite some time prior to its release, though, as his role provides the twist in the story’s tale… He was also extremely proud to have appeared in the trailer even if his appearance was only half a second long. You can watch the trailer – and look out for Tyler! – right here:

Insidious 2 Trailer

Tyler plays Jon in Our Zombie Mother who, along with his sister, Wendy – played by Naomi – has to figure out what to do with his mother when, one day, she wakes up as a zombie! His zombie mother is played by Maria Olsen, who, by a strange twist of fate, also auditioned for the role of his mother in Insidious: Chapter 2! Olsen is well known in horror circles, and has recently been seen in The Haunting of Whaley House, Vile, The Lords of Salem, Paranormal Activity 3 and Die-Ner (Get It)? She also appeared on-screen as the flying Fury in Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Tyler makes friends wherever he goes, but he isn’t afraid to put in some hard work, and he keeps busy with acting classes, coaching, music and scouting too. But, as making the top list of the Most Cutest Boy Actors on IMDB, one might conclude that he has some natural abilities too.

IMDB

Our Zombie Mother is the brainchild of Patrick Griffin, Tyler and Naomi’s talented dad, and the series is being jointly produced by his company, Griffin Studios LA, and Olsen’s MOnsterworks66. The pilot episode is almost out of post-production, and a number of creepy trailers have been released to give the worldwide zombie army a taste of what is to come:

Thirsty Zombie Problems: Click Here

Zombie Fun With Toothpaste: Click Here

Zombies v Shoes: Click Here

Our Zombie Mother is a family-friendly zom-com “horromedy” series suitable for zombie lovers ages 10 and up.

And then there’s also OZM NewZ…but that’s a whole other story!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Army of Darkness / Reanimator Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Mark Rahner (Army of Darkness / Reanimator) and Jim Kuhoric (Reanimator #0)
Art By Randy Valiente, Mike Cossin (Army of Darkness / Reanimator) and Nick Bradshaw, Jim Charalampidis (Reanimator #0)
Letter By Patrick Brosseau (Army of Darkness / Reanimator) and Josh Johnson (Reanimator #0)
Cover By Randy Valiente

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Horror, Action, Comedy

Synopsis

Ash is hurled into an American graveyard in the 1920s and meets an intense young doctor named Herbert West. 

If the name sounds familiar, West's obsessed with reanimating the dead at any cost. But he just can't seem to find corpses that are fresh enough. 

It's H.P. Lovecraft's New England - and his bizarre original short story as the source material. 

Bonus! Also, featuring a reprint of Reanimator #0!

Review

Army of Darkness having a crossover with Reanimator is a story  that I didn't honestly think I would see or think it would work because the styles of story were so vastly different.  Well, those folks at Dynamite Entertainment sure proved me wrong.

Their crossover comics are known for being different, exciting and working no matter what characters they try to combine.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I'm yet to read a crossover by Dynamite that I haven't liked.

This title definitely keeps that momentum going and then some.  Herbert West, from 'Reanimator', meeting up with Ash really works in a bit of an 'odd couple' kind of way.  It's here that the writing teams up really well with the art because Ash's trademark quips are all here but the way the artist shows it winding up West is fantastic because that's when they really used some great facial expressions in the art.

While the 'Vampirella' special was a bit let down by it's ending, this one doesn't have any such problem, in fact, it grabs you from the very first page and keeps hold of you until the ending.

Writing wise, this crossover manages to be hilariously yet darkly comedic yet at the same time action packed.  Rahner really manages to keep the qualities that make the Ash character so popular and translate them on to the page.  That's not to say that West doesn't hold up his end of the bargain because he does.  He's pretty much the ying to Ash's yang in this story and that helps the action to gel together.

The art here is spot on.  One moment bloody and action packed, the next dark with a feeling of dread running throughout.  I love it when an artist is able to convey so much with just a facial expression or a god use of shadows and that's what we get here.  When the action picks up and it all goes to Hell in a hand basket, the art more than keeps up.

Cover art is done by Randy Valiente and looks fantastic.  I would even go so far as to say that I like the cover so much that I wouldn't mind getting it up on my wall because it  was effective in that it both got me excited to read the comic book itself as well as looking superb.

All in all, if you are a fan of either franchise then this is most definitely a title well worth picking up.  The writer does both of them justice and really gives both characters their own entirely separate voices and  personalities.  As a bonus for fans, there is even a reprint of 'Reanimator #0' after the main story so that makes it even more of a good purchase for the fans.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Vampirella Halloween Special 2013


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Shannon Eric Denton
Art By Dietrich Smith and Wes Hartman
Lettering By Marshall Dillon
Cover By Joe Jusko

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Vampirella once again joins forces with Dracula and Eva in order to confront a Doomsday Cult intent on releasing one of the Ancient Ones back upon the Earth.

The trio, empowered from their previous successes, will confront these evil forces head on!

These three warriors race from threat to threat in order to stop the apocalypse but will learn that even their immense power may not be enough.

Whether they accept it or not, some battles cannot be won...

Review

I have to admit that I have never been that big a fan of the Vampirella character.  I find her adventures quite hit and miss in places but normally the special issues featuring the character that Dynamite put out are normally pretty good one shot stories.

Here Vampirella teams up with Dracula and his daughter, Eva, to bring down a dangerous coven of witches that want to bring about the end of the world.  Don't they always?

While the story itself isn't the most original in the comic book world, the writing  is a crisp pace and has some pretty good twists and turns.  I did like the mini side story of the father and the little girl wanting to get to America to get a better life for themselves.  In fact, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of the two of them but there's only so much story that you can fit in to a 34 page issue.

Vampirella's adventure as part of a trio wanting to bring down the witches is exciting but the ending felt a little off.  It felt like they'd written the characters in to corner and went for the route they ended up with because they had nothing else to put there, that or they ran out of space for a better ending.  It didn't ruin the story for me but it just felt a little bit like a missed opportunity.  The story was building up to this massive ending only for it to not happen and that's a real shame.

Art wise this issue doesn't really jump out at me at all but neither was the art bad either.  The action scenes however was fantastically drawn by  Dietrich Smith and really hooked me in to the lead up to the final third of the story.  I know that Vampirella's costume is iconic but there are times when she's drawn that it just looks a bit stereotypical in that they make her 't & a' more a part of the story than the action itself and that happened a couple of times here.

The cover here is a bit cliched, hence the score, but it's drawn well and to be honest, if you already read the Vampirella comic books then the cover pretty caters to that crowd. 

All in all, even to a non fan such as myself, I did enjoy this  issue.  The ending let it down a bit as did a couple of panels that seemed to focus more on her butt sticking  out and her boob's taking front and center stage as opposed to the fight she was having but it's still worth picking up.  It hasn't made me in to a Vampirella fan but it was still a pretty good tale.

Story 7/10
Art 7/10
Cover 6/10
Recommended 6/10
Overall 26/40

Saturday, 26 October 2013

WesterNoir Book 3 Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Dave West
Art By Gary Crutchley
Cover By Gary Crutchley and Matt Soffe

Published By Accent UK

Genre
Western, Action, Supernatural

Synopsis

WesterNoir is a mini-series that mixes horror and western genres to tell the tale of Josiah Black, a man who has seen, and done, much in his life but nothing that has prepared him for what is to come. 

Issue 3 sees Josiah fall in and out of love on the Mississippi. Oh yes, there's Mermaids as well. 

Review

After the fantastic first two issues of this series hit my reading pile, I flew through them with  ease.  The intelligent yet exciting writing hooked me in and I read them from cover to cover.

Book three of the series keeps that momentum up and even adds to it by creating a story that gripped me all the way through as well as being heartbreaking too.  The flow of the story seemed, at first, to be much more gentle and easy going than the first two books.  Then you hit the twist in the final third and that leaves a hell of a lot of possible stories for the fourth book.  There are so many ways that Black go from here and I can't wait to see where they are going to take the character next.

One of the things that I liked the most is that when you hit the end of the story, you just know there are going to be major ramifications for Josiah Black yet at the same time we saw another side of the character.  The 'enemy' here wasn't the stereotypical 'monster' that you would normally get in a title like this.  Instead, despite the bad things that they did, come across as a bit sympathetic.  I liked that touch because of the fact that it then in turn brought out a new side to Josiah Black.  He as still as much of a bad ass as he was in the first two books but we get to see a more emotional side to him and also get to hear a little bit more of his back story too.  It was quite to see another layer added to the character.

Art wise, once again, Crutchley is absolutely spot on with his art work.  Here he really seems to bring his 'a game' with the art by not going for an all guns blazing style of art work.  In fact, it's quite a subtle issue and that's shown here by the art as well.  When you do get to the part of the issue with the 'bang for your buck' so to speak, it does a good job of being shocking by showing you the action in few panels instead of dragging it out and that really comes across as being brilliantly effective.

'WesterNoir' is one of those books that really goes from strength to strength.  This story may have been more subtle than the first two books but I actually think that this was by far the best of the three that I have read so far.  If you haven't started to read this series then why not?  You are really missing out on a very well written and illustrated series that just gets better and better.

Story 9/10
Art 8/10
Overall 17/20

Scooby-Doo Meets Batman DVD Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jameson Brewer, Tom Dagenais, Ruth Flippen, Fred Freiberger, Willie Gilbet, Bill Lutz, Larry Markes, Norman Maurer, Jack Mendelsohn, Ray Parker, Gene Thompson, Paul West and Harry Winkler
Directed By Joseph Barbera and William Hannah

Genre
Animated, Family, Superhero, Comedy, Adventure

Cast

Don Messick as Scooby-Doo
Casey Kasem as Shaggy, Robin
Frank Welker as Fred
Heather North as Daphne
Nicole Jaffe as Velma
Olan Soule as Batman
Larry Storch as The Joker

Certificate U

Synopsis

They move like shadows in the night.

Protecting the innocent, thwarting injustice and stuffing themselves with Scooby snacks! That's right - the most legendary names in crime-fighting history join forces as Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. gang team up with Batman and Robin.

The action begins as The Joker and The Penguin try to cash in on a crooked counterfeiting scheme only to be foiled by the crime-fighting trio of Batman, Robin and Scooby-Doo! But The Joker and The Penguin return to try and steal a flying suit until Scooby-Doo and the gang prove that with a little help, they have what it takes to bring the sky-high scoundrels back to earth! 

Special Features
  • None

Review

Holy crossovers Batman!

What we have here are two legendary sets of characters in the shape of the Scooby gang and Batman, along with his trusty sidekick Robin.  

I've always  thought of the 1970's animated series of Batman and of Scooby-Doo have always been personal favorites of mine and think they really stand the test of time.  They may seem a little bit tame when compared to some of the television shows of today but I think that they're still a hell of a lot of fun.

This release here is two episodes featuring the Scooby-Doo regulars but also featuring The Joker, The Penguin, Batman and Robin too.  It's a bit of a strange cross over and shouldn't really work but it does.  The animated is quite dated but that said, the cartoons here are over 40 years old so of course it's going to look a bit dated.

That said, the stories themselves are actually quite fun.  The only thing that kind of bugged me was the fact that the laugh track would start to get annoying after a while but that's a tiny complaint really when you consider how much fun the DVD is.  I watched it with my little four year old son and he loved it.  He's a fan of both Scooby-Doo and of Batman so this release was like a treasure trove for him.

I'm not going to lie, this isn't going to knock your socks off or anything like that nor is it fast paced in that ADD style that seems so prevalent in today's cartoons but there is a lot of fun to be had watching it.  Besides, it's Scooby-Doo and Batman working together to stop The Joker and The Penguin.  What's not to love about that?

Show 8/10
Picture 7/10
Sound 7/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 22/30

The Art of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Tracey Miller-Zarneke

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Art, Movie Tie In

Synopsis

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 picks up where Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs left off. When inventor Flint Lockwood discovers that his most infamous machine — the FLDSMDFR — is still operating and is now creating giant mutant food beasts that threaten to destroy civilization, he knows he's the only one who can stop it. 

With the fate of humanity in his hands, Flint and his friends must embark on a dangerously delicious mission battling hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, apple pie-thons, double bacon cheespiders and other food creatures to save the world . . . again!  

The Art of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 celebrates the artistic collaboration of artists to create a fascinating movie that is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Review

If you're a regular reader of this site then you will know just how much I love reading art books of all shapes and sizes.  I love ones about art itself, ones about the concept art of computer games and of movies and pretty much anything in between.

I've read and reviewed some great ones and some not so great ones so this one had a lot of expectation riding on it after some of the absolutely fantastic ones that I have read in the past  but would it live up to it?

While I wasn't all that sure about wanting to watch the movie after seeing the trailer, after reading this superb book I now really want to see it.  The book here does a great job of showing the reader the gestation of the movie from the very beginning right up to the finished project.

One of the main strengths of the book is that the sheer amount of information here is just astounding.  They really couldn't have fitted in anymore information than they have here yet they do so without battering you over the head with it all.

Another one of the strengths is that the writing is so easy flowing that it is definitely a book that you would want to come back to again and again.  It's so interesting and the stories behind the characters and the movie itself told in such an endearing way that it hooks you in from the very start and before you know it, you've read the whole thing.

There are some gorgeous illustrations and the concept art so beautifully rendered that it's superb to see the evolution of the movie.  It's almost as if you are seeing the movie grow in front of you as you read the book itself.

Even if the movie itself doesn't live up to the standards that the book sets it at, this book is still absolutely fantastic and well worth picking up for fans of concept art.  Also the sheer amount of the information here will have even the hardest to please movie nerds gripped on every page.

Presentation 8/10
Informative 10/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 27/30

PIN (1988) Pre-Release DVD Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Sandor Stern Based on the Novel By Andrew Neiderman
Directed By Sandor Stern

An Image Organization, Lance Entertainment, Malofilm Communications Inc, Malofilm Group, Telefilm Canada Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

David Hewlett as Leon
Cynthia Preston as Ursula (Credited as Cyndy Preston)
Terry O'Quinn as Dr. Linden
Bronwen Mantel as Mrs. Linden
John Pyper-Ferguson as Stan Fraker (Credited as John Ferguson)
Helene Udy as Marcia Bateman

Certificate 15

Synopsis

A plastic nightmare...

Pin, (short for Pinocchio), is an anatomical instruction dummy. Dr Linden (Terry O'Quinn) uses the dummy to explain difficult questions to his children, Leon and Ursula. When Dr Linden and his wife die suddenly, Leon projects a personality to Pin to replace his father. When Ursula starts hanging around with new boyfriend Stan, Leon and Pin take action!  

Special Features
  • Trailer

Review

The 1980's.  A decade of big hair and electronic music but also the decade of the quickly made slasher movies that filled the cinema's and rental shops of the era.  Some of these went on to be legendary such as 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and many more but a lot of them have been largely forgotten.  Some of the forgotten ones were just awful but others were good quality horror movies that were sadly lost under the deluge of slasher movies that were pumped out.  PIN is one of those movies.

If you were to dismiss this as a mere horror movie would be doing it a massive disservice.  What we have here is a psychological horror that really shreds the nerves and keeps the viewer on edge for the entire movie.  A lot of that is in part to not only the seriously creepy medical dummy but in the beginning of the movie a lot of that creepy, filling of dread is down to the superb performance by the criminally under rated Terry O'Quinn.

That uneasy feeling of the movie continues when David Hewlett takes over and slowly but surely descends in to schizophrenia and madness.  Hewlett really does this part justice in that one minute you are feeling sorry for the character and just want to comfort him but then the very next minute, you think he is absolutely crazy and you want to run away from him as fast as you possibly can.

The rest of the cast is spot on and really play their parts well.  The best of these other actors is Bronwen  Mantel as Mrs. Linden.  She makes the character so cold and calculating that all through the movie, you are made aware of just what her creepy brand of OCD is doing to the family itself but in a subtle, non melodramatic way.

It's a bit of a shame that there is only a trailer for the special features but at the same time, PIN is a low budget horror movie from the 80's so I wasn't really expecting any.  I won't lie, it would have been nice to see some but when this movie is this good then that's a small complaint.

If you're expecting a bloodbath of a slasher movie then you are going to be disappointed.  This is a slow burning psychological horror with some amazingly subtle and chilling performances by the cast.  Hopefully the movie will shed it's forgotten status and be recognised for the well made and affecting movie that it is.

Movie 8/10
Picture 7/10
Sound 7/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 22/30

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Bat Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Mary Roberts Rinehart

Published By Open Road Integrated Media

Genre
Crime, Thriller

Synopsis

A supervillain stalks the countryside, and it will take a spinster to bring him to heel

For months, the city has lived in fear of the Bat. A master criminal hindered by neither scruple nor fear, he has stolen over one million dollars and left at least six men dead. The police are helpless, the newspapers know nothing—even the key figures of the city’s underworld have no clue as to the identity of the Bat. He is a living embodiment of death itself, and he is coming to the countryside.

There, he will encounter the only person who can stop him: adventurous sixty-five-year-old spinster Cornelia Van Gorder. Last in a long line of New York society royalty, Cornelia has found old age to be a bore, and is hungry for a bit of adventure. She’s going to find it—in a lonely old country house where every shadow could be the Bat. 

Review

Often called the American Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart is a renowned mystery writer known for her twists and turns.

This classic tale is a novel based on a play 'The Bat' that was in turn based on another story called 'The Circular Staircase'.  To add another entry on to that list, it was also turned in to a movie as well in 1959 starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.

The story here is most definitely a classic mystery in the Agatha Christie vein but there are a lot of twists and turns thrown in for the mystery fans amongst us.  I was surprised to see that it had actually been written in 1920 because the easy going flow of the writing style made it feel like a modern day mystery written in a historical setting.  There are some cracking and massively quotable lines through out the story.

I have to be honest, I wanted to read this book as a big fan of the old black and white movie and in that aspect it didn't disappoint.  However there were a couple of moments that just felt a bit groan worthy.  For example the inconvenient power outages to confuse the characters through out the mystery even more.  It just felt like it was tacked on.

I did prefer the movie version yet the pace of this book may have been gentler than today's thrillers but the story itself really flows in the sort of way that makes you just want to read just one more page.  The revelation of who the murderer was isn't the most shocking but somehow fits the novel really well.

If you're in to the Agatha Christie mysteries then this one will definitely be right up your street.

Story 8/10
Characters 7/10
Recommended  7/10
Overall 22/30

Creepshow Pre-Release Blu-ray Review


Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Stephen King
Directed By George A. Romero

A Creepshow Films Inc, Laurel Entertainment Inc, Laurel-Show Inc, Warner Brothers Film

Genre
Horror Anthology

Cast

Hal Holbrook as Henry Northrup
Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma Northrup
Leslie Nielsen as Dexter Stanley
Ed Harris as Hank Blaine
Ted Danson as Harry Wentworth
Stephen King as Jordy Verrill
E.G. Marshall as Upson Pratt

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Two macabre masters - writer Stephen King and director George A. Romero - conjure up five shocking yarns, each a virtuoso exercise in the ghouls-and-gags style of classic '50s horror comics.

A murdered man emerges from the grave for Father's Day cake.

A meteor's ooze makes everything... grow.

A professor selects his wife as a snack for a crated creature.

A scheming husband plants two lovers up to their necks in terror.

A malevolent millionaire with an insect phobia becomes the prey of a cockroach army.

Add the spirited performances of a fine cast (Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, E.G. Marshall and King himself) and the ghoulish makeup wizardry of Tom Savini.

Let the Creepshow begin! 

Special Features
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
  • Behind the Screams With Tom Savini
  • Deleted Scenes
  • TV Spot
  • Trailer
  • Stills Gallery

Review

Stephen King. George A. Romero.  Two names that every horror fan should know.  What do you get when you combine them?  You get 'Creepshow'!

'Creepshow' is a horror anthology movie that anyone that is a fan of 80's horror will know very well and now the classic is finally available on Blu-ray but is it worth picking up.

Well horror fans, that is a rather pointless question.  Of course it's worth picking up, it's 'Creepshow' and has been written by Stephen King and directed by the king of the zombies himself, George A. Romero.

The five stories here are very well done with some superb make up effects by the legendary Tom Savini that, even now, look absolutely brilliant.  It's hard to believe that this movie is over 20 years old.  Makes me feel quite old actually but anyway back to the review.

The stories themselves do vary in the tale they weave but they are most definitely Stephen King stories as his trademarks of wit, cynicism and the underlying feeling of something spooky being about to happen are all there and accounted for.  However, the writing wouldn't mean a thing without a great cast to back it up, hence why some King adaptations end up being awful and some end up being fantastic.  This cast however make it the latter.

You have some absolutely household names here and they are all great across the board.  Normally with anthology movies, they can be a bit hit and miss but here, they're so good that I can honestly say that there isn't a weak link amongst them.  You even get an appearance by King himself!

The special features here are spot on for the set yet I can't help but want a little bit more but maybe that's me being selfish after being spoiled so much by the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' Blu-ray that I reviewed a little while back.  The best of these by far is the part 'Behind the Screams With Tom Savini' but the actual making of documentary is very interesting as well, offering quite a good look at the making of an 80's classic.

If you are a fan of 1980's horror movies then this has to be in your collection.  Not only do you get the classic anthology movie but there are also some great special features to cast your beady looking eyes over and what more could a horror fan want?

Film 8/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 8/10
Overall 33/40

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Texas Chainsaw DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms and Stephen Susco Based on Characters Created By Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper
Directed By John Luessenhop

A Leatherface Productions, Lionsgate, Mainline Pictures, Millennium Films, Nu Image Films, Twisted Chainsaw Pictures Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller
Dan Yeager as Leatherface
Tremaine 'Trey Songz' Neverson as Ryan
Scott Eastwood as Carl
Tania Raymonde as Nikki
Shaun Sipos as Darryl
Certificate 18

Synopsis

Texas Chainsaw, the US #1 box office hit, picks up directly where the terrifying 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre ended, with the repercussions of Leatherface's shocking slayings. In the aftermath of Tobe Hooper's classic, the townspeople take dramatic action against the Sawyer family. They had long suspected the family were responsible for several mysterious disappearances and had their suspicions finally confirmed when a young woman escaped the house. Word of the murders quickly spread, and a vigilante mob of enraged locals surrounded the Sawyer stronghold, burning it to the ground and killing every last member of the family - or so they thought... 

Special Features
  • Audio Commentary With Director John Luessenhop and Actor Dan Yeager
  • Audio Commentary With  Producer Carl Mazzocone and Filmmaker Tobe Hooper
  • Special 'Chainsaw Alumni' Audio Commentary With Stars Bill Mosely, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns and John Dugan
  • 'Texas Chainsaw' Legacy Featurette
  • Resurrecting the Saw Featurette
  • The Old Homestead Featurette
  • Casting Terror Featurette
  • Leatherface 2013 Featurette
  • Lights, Camera, Massacre Featurette
  • It's in the Meat Featurette
  • On Set Short Subjects:  Five Minute Massacres
  • Alternate Opening

Review

I have to admit that I appear to be in the minority when I say that I actually enjoyed this movie.

Is it an original horror movie?  Good lord no.  Is it as bad as people have made it out to be?  No, not by far.

What we do have is a movie that explodes in to action at the beginning, takes it's time to going when introducing the characters but then ramps it up to fifth gear in the final third.

There have been many reviews lambasting all different sections of the movie and I have to admit that some of the complaints are correct and well deserved.  The whole messed up timeline of the movie did really bug the hell out of me in that the original movie was set in the 70's yet this one was set now but with things happening that happened straight after the first movie.  That would make the characters massively older than they are depicted here.  I know that with most horror movies you have to suspend your belief and for the most part, I'm cool with that, yet the timing of the murders etc that happen in the movie just threw me off a bit.

The other thing that bugged me is that a lot of the characters that end up being chainsaw fodder for Leatherface are largely unlikeable and interchangeable.  In fact, other than Heather, I wouldn't be able to tell you the names of the others without looking them up.

Story wise, the rest of the movie is fine.  It's not original or shockingly new with it's ideas but for the most part, it works.  It's the sort of movie where you go in to it knowing exactly what you are going to get when you watch it but at least this installment in the series tries to do something new with the characters and the mythology of the movies.  Not all of the ideas are successful.

One of the things that fans complained the most about is that the writing seems to make you want to feel sorry for Leatherface himself.  I don't think it does.  It shows a deranged killer taking revenge on people that were just as bad and messed up as he was.  I don't have a problem with that development of the character because it shows that he's not averse to that kind of thing happening to him either.

Special features wise, this is a superb set with some great features.  There are three commentaries, although the one with the director is actually boring in places.  The one with Tobe Hooper is a good one but I wish that Hooper would have spoken a little bit more but it's the alumni commentary that's by far the best of the three.  The featurettes are well made and very interesting as well, especially the one about how much work they put in to making the house look exactly like the house in the original one. I was very impressed with how close they actually got the newer one.

All in all, while not an original horror movie in the slightest, it's still nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews have made it out to be.  As a long time fan of the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' series of movies, I actually enjoyed the fact that they tried something different with this one.  The timeline of the movie is messed up, which took me out of the movie a bit, but other than that it did exactly what it set out to do so it's still worth a look at the very least.

Movie 7/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 8/10
Overall 22/40

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) on IMDb

Wallace & Gromit: Comic Strip Collection - Volume 1: 2010 - 2011 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Foreword By Nick Park

Published By Titan Comics

Genre
Comedy

Synopsis

Collected together - for the first time ever - this book contains over 300 editions of the Wallace & Gromit daily comic strip which originally appeared in The Sun newspaper, plus a foreword by Nick Park.

With more inventions, gags and jokes than you can shake a Supa-Dupa-Cuppa 6000 at - or a Shredder-o-Matic 3000 - the Wallace & Gromit Collection will have you laughing from your early morning cuppa right up to your late night snack of cheese and crackers.

Review

The characters of 'Wallace & Gromit' have been a favorite duo of many people for a long time now so it was only a matter of time before they got their own comic book strip.

That's when the British paper The Sun started to published a daily strip featuring the worlds favorite pair of hapless inventors.  Each mini adventure featuring one of their inventions would run for 6 days and have a plethora of puns, jokes and mishaps.

The pair are known for their bad but endearing puns and these mini stories are no different.  For a story that would only be 6 sets of 3 panels to have so many jokes and puns without feeling cluttered just shows how well the writers know these popular characters.

Art wise, it's not going to set the world alight but at the same time, it completely suits the 'Wallace & Gromit' universe.  The artists really do a fantastic job of recreating their facial expressions and manage to create little snippets of their lives that wouldn't feel out of place in one of their shorts or their movie.

The foreword by their creator Nick Park was a really nice touch in that it really show just how much he loves his creations and how proud of their popularity he is.

All in all, if you are a 'Wallace & Gromit' fan then you really should get this to add to your collection.  It most definitely stands next to their adventures and creates such a sense of fun and hilarity that some of the strips honestly had me howling with laughter.  If you're not a fan of theirs however, this probably won't change your mind about them in all honesty.  Like I said before, a good purchase for fans of the hapless inventors.

Stories 8/10
Art 7/10
Overall 15/20

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Wonderfalls: The Complete Series DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Created By Bryan Fuller and Todd Holland

Genre
Comedy, Drama

Cast

Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye Tyler
Katie Finneran as Sharon Tyler
Tyron Leitso as Eric Gotts
William Sadler as Darrin Tyler
Diana Scarwid as Karen Tyler
Lee Pace as Aaron Tyler
Tracie Thoms as Mahandra McGinty

Certificate 12

Synopsis

From the producer of Angel and Firefly and the creator of Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies comes Wonderfalls.

The show centres on Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent University graduate, who holds a dead-end job as a sales clerk in a Niagara Falls gift shop. Jaye is the reluctant participant in conversations with various animal figurines- which direct her via oblique instructions to help people in trouble.

Special Features
  • Audio Commentaries
  • 'Greetings From Wonderfalls' Documentary
  • Visual Effects Featurette

Review

'Wonderfalls' is one of those kooky style that is so off beat and different that you can't help but get drawn in to the world that the characters inhabit.  It was the same with the show 'Pushing Daisies', which strangely also had Lee Pace in.

Sadly, before this series could really take off and fly Fox cancelled it.  Yeah, I was shocked too that they would do such a thing.  Cough cough Firefly cough cough.

One of the things that I loved the most about the series was the fact that it was a television series that tried so many things that wouldn't normally be tried in a series and tries them all.  In fact, there are so many times that this show shoots out of the real world and in to the realm of the truly surreal yet the intelligent writing makes it all seem plausible.  You can most definitely tell that this is created by the creators of 'Dead Like Me' because they use some of the same little tricks but here, 'Wonderfalls' is a show with it's own  unique voice.

The cast is utterly superb.  The writing is so intelligent that they give the characters such separate personalities and weight to their actions.  That would be all for nothing if the cast wasn't up to the massive task of making those personalities come to life but that's exactly what they do there.

The great William Sadler is here, you have the sadly under rated Lee Pace from 'Pushing Daisies' but best of all you have Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye Tyler, who gives the character such a world weary and cynical edge that she comes across as a live action Daria.  There are so many layers to the character that she is a fantastically original and complex character that just feels at home in a complex and multi-layered series.  I just wish it could have lasted for more than one series.

If you like series such as 'Pushing Daisies', 'Dead Like Me' and other such shows then you are going  to love this unique, one of a kind series that will have you laughing manically and being gripped at the same time.  Great performances and writing make this a fantastic purchase.

Show 8/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 7/10
Overall 33/40

Wonderfalls (2004– ) on IMDb

Planes Cinema Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jeffrey M. Howard, John Lasseter and Klay Hall
Directed By Klay Hall

A Prana Studios, DisneyToon Studios Film

Genre
Animated, Adventure, Comedy

Cast

Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper
Stacy Keach as Skipper
Brad Garrett as Chug
Teri Hatcher as Dottie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Rochelle
Priyanka Chopra as Ishani
John Cleese as Bulldog
Cedric the Entertainer as Leadbottom

Certificate U

Synopsis

A cropdusting plane with a fear of heights lives his dream of competing in a famous around-the-world aerial race.

Review

When I saw the trailer for this new Disney offering I was a bit hesitant to plunk my money down to see it in the cinema as it just looked like a lazy and uninspired rehash of the 'Cars' movie.  Then my little lad saw the trailer and decided he wanted to see it and my fate was sealed.

Now that I've seen it in the cinema what did I think about the latest DisneyToons offering?  Well, it was a lazy and uninspired rehash of 'Cars' only with planes, even down to some of the characters being pretty much the same characters as the other movie.

The story takes an idea of someone thinking they can do something hard that nobody else believes they  can do and absolutely beats the idea over the head with a brick.  The message is so heavy handed that it came across as very patronising.  One of the story lines that runs alongside the main one of a crop duster wanting to be a racing plane is that of an old timer who won't fly anymore wanting to help Dusty the crop duster be a better racer.  Sound familiar?  Yep, that's right.  The same side story was in cars only swop the old  timer being a war plane with it being an old timer being an old racing car that wanted to make Lightning McQueen in to a better racer.

That's not all either.  There was some massive stereotyping with the foreign planes, as is pretty  usual for one of these sorts of movies, and the villain is so bland that by the time I got home, it was pretty hard to remember all that much about him.

Animation wise, the whole movie was very hit and miss.  Some scenes would look absolutely stunning in their detailing and beauty and others would look rushed and even unfinished in places.  I know the movie itself was being rushed out, along with a couple of sequels, to be one of those 'direct to DVD' releases that Disney do so many of, but then pushed in to cinema's instead.  Maybe it was down to that.  Either way, it's one of the poorest that they've done in a long time.

All in all, this movie is pretty much just 'Cars' but with planes instead but I suppose having set it in their world that would be inevitable really.  I just wish they would have put more effort in to it.  If I'm being completely honest, it's a largely forgettable effort but at least my little lad liked it right?

Movie 5/10


"I likes Planes.  I like Skipper.  He cool"










Planes (2013) on IMDb

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By L.M. Kit Carson and Tobe Hooper
Directed By Tobe Hooper

A Cannon Films Production

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Cast

Dennis Hooper as Lieutenant  'Lefty' Enright
Caroline Williams as Vanita 'Stretch' Brock
Jim Siedow as Cook
Bill Moseley as Chop-Top
Bill Johnson as Leatherface
Ken Evert as Grandpa

Certificate 18

Synopsis

In 1974, Tobe Hooper quite literally changed the face of horror with his landmark film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Although the hulking Leatherface and his trusty power tool left an indelible mark upon the cinematic landscape, it wouldn’t be until 1986 that the buzz came back… in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2!

Relocating the cannibalistic Sawyer clan to a cavernous, labyrinthine dwelling beneath an amusement park, Hooper’s deliciously demented sequel sees Leatherface and Co. continue their murderous exploits afresh. This time around, local DJ Stretch runs afoul of the Sawyers when she gets mixed up in the brutal slaying of two youngsters. Meanwhile Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his nephew Franklin who perished in the original massacre.

A cult classic in its own right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 serves up a heady blend of gratuitous gore, socio-political critique and jet-black humour – whilst Dennis Hopper’s unhinged turn as Lefty needs to be seen to be believed! Whichever way you skin it, Leatherface’s second cinematic outing is an uncompromisingly delirious vision from one of the masters of horror.

Special Features
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a digital transfer supervised by Director of Photography Richard Kooris 
  • Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Audio commentary with director and co-writer Tobe Hooper, moderated by David Gregory • Audio commentary with stars Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams and special-effects legend Tom Savini, moderated by Michael Felsher 
  • “It Runs in the Family” - A 6-part documentary looking at the genesis, making-of and enduring appeal of Hooper’s film, with interviews including star Bill Johnson, co-writer L. M. Kit Carson, Richard Kooris, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Tom Savini, production designer Cary White and more!  
  • Alternate Opening sequence with different musical score 
  • Deleted scenes  
  •  “Still Feelin’ the Buzz” - Interview with horror expert Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA 
  • Cutting Moments with Bob Elmore – Interview with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s stuntman  
  • Gallery featuring never-before-published behind-the-scenes images 
  • Original Trailer 
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition (DVD) presentation of two of Tobe Hooper’s early works restored by Watchmaker Films with Tobe Hooper, available on home video for the first time in the world 
  • The Heisters (1965) - Tobe Hooper’s early short film restored in HD from original elements [10 mins] 
  • Eggshells (1970) - Tobe Hooper’s debut feature restored in HD from original elements [90 mins] 
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Audio Commentary on Eggshells by Tobe Hooper 
  • In Conversation with Tobe Hooper - the legendary horror director speaks about his career from Eggshells to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2  
  • Trailer Reel of all the major works by Tobe Hooper 
  • 100 page book - Limited Edition Exclusive - Exclusive perfect-bound book covering everything you wanted to know about Tobe Hooper, chainsaws and more! Featuring new writing on the director’s early works by Brad Stevens, an investigation of Tobe Hooper’s three-picture Cannon deal by Calum Waddell, new writing on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 by John Kenneth Muir, a look at the film’s long battle with the BBFC and an exclusive interview with Hooper by Stefan Jaworzyn, author of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Companion, rounded off with an appraisal of the highs and lows of the Texas Chainsaw franchise by Joel Harley, all illustrated with archive stills.

Review

When the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' was released it went down in legend as one of the most nerve wracking and scary horror movies ever made.  However it wasn't until 1986 that a sequel would turn up but would it match that level of the original.

Well, back when it was released, critics took one gigantic dump on the movie.  In their eyes, it completely destroyed the aura of the original.  With 27 years now passed since then, Arrow Films have put together one hell of a set to bring the movie back to the forefront of horror movie fans collections.

The story itself is nothing like the original.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say as it comes across as a gory and incredibly over the top yet darkly comic  look at the state of horror movies back in the 80's.  There were so many little nods and digs at other movies and some of the performances really do have to be seen to be believed.

In places, the movie takes a very strange detour in to pure and utter insanity, which is one of the things that I really liked the most about the movie.  It may be weird, it may be completely over the top but it is sure as Hell never boring.

Performance wise, it's what you would expect from an 80's horror movie but with one massive exception.  Dennis Hopper.  He gives one of the most manic and completely unhinged performances that I have ever seen in a movie, not just a horror movie.  You honestly believe that he is totally bat crap crazy.  The idea of someone wanting revenge for losing someone close to them isn't a new one in the slightest but Hopper plays it so well that you can't take your eyes away from them because it honestly feels like the grief and the need for revenge has full on eaten the characters sanity.

The transfer for the movie itself is absolutely brilliant.  It's almost as if it's a movie released today not one that was first released in 1986 so kudos to whoever did the transferring job.

However that's not where the set raises from being good to being essential.  There are a positive treasure trove of goodies for the horror fan and specifically for the fans of the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' movies themselves.  In fact, if you are a fan, then you are in for a great time going through all the things that are included in this 3 disc set.  Arrow Films have done a mind blowing job on making this release of a criminally under rated horror classic stand out from the crowd and have full on jammed as much on to the discs as they possibly can.

The real highlight for me as a fan of Tobe Hooper, is the inclusion of two of Hooper's early movies.  One a short and one his first directorial debut.  Both have been cleaned up and transferred on to home video for the first ever time.

In all honesty, this is an absolutely essential purchase for horror fans.  There is so much here that you could spend a very long time going through all the goodies without getting bored.  Like I said earlier, it's a positive treasure trove of special features and surprises so what are you waiting for?

Movie 8/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 10/10
Overall 36/40

'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' Limited Edition Blu-ray is available from November 11th.

  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) on IMDb