Sunday, 30 December 2018

Ross's Wrap Up: Top 10 Movies of 2018 (with 2 bonus lists)

And so it is another year passes and I get to reflect on the time that passed. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see every movie that's came out this year but that's something I aim to remedy in 2019 as I'm sure there's movies I missed this year that would have easily made this list. So what made it to the top? Let's take a look.

10. Ready Player One

Starting at the top we have one of the best Spielberg movies not even made by the man himself. This is one I actually got to see twice in the cinema. As a movie it's an absolute blast as you find yourself totally rooting against the evil corporation, and the pop culture references felt like they were made just for me. Also that Stanley Kubrick's Shining sequence will forever remain in my heart. If you love retro movies and video games, definitely give this a shot.

9. Deadpool 2

This movie had the unfortunate distinction of having to follow up what has to now be considered a modern classic in the first Deadpool. While this may not have been quite as good, it was still a worthy sequel to the original as you can tell everyone involved is just having fun with this. Ryan Reynolds is still fantastic in the lead role and the addition of Josh Brolin as Cable was just brilliant. One of the funniest movies of the year and hopefully we'll get a sequel.

8. A Star Is Born

I feel like I'm gonna get crucified by some people for putting this so low on the list. I feel like this movie had an insanely strong Act 1 and 2, but Act 3 just fell a little short for me and didn't have the same emotional impact for me as it seemed to for so many others. Still this is a great look into the difficulties of fame and fortune and how we deal with it. The soundtrack is great (even if a few relatives have played it into the ground) and worth checking out. 

7. Bohemian Rhapsody

I'm a big fan of Queen and so this was a biopic I was eager to see when I first saw the trailer and heard everyone raving about it. While it wasn't perfect and the life of Freddy could have been explored a little more, I can't fault the performances as Rami Malek was phenomenal as Freddie Mercury and deserves many accolades for his efforts. The final 10-20 minutes of the Live Aid performance was just tremendous and it's a movie moment I can't wait to revisit again. 

6. Black Panther

I almost totally forgot that this movie came out this year as it feels like it's been out forever but that might just be because it was February that it was originally released. This one has already been critically lauded to hell and back and for good reason. This is one of the MCUs standout out movies and seemed to come out of nowhere as we'd only seen Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. I think it's safe to say that Black Panther has entered the hearts of millions seeing as the movie is now the 9th highest grossing of all time and in terms of the rest of the MCU, it only trails behind the huge Avengers movies so this is an impressive feat to say the least. Check this one out immediately. 

5. Ralph Breaks the Internet

I'm surprised myself that this one made it so high onto the list, but I genuinely adored this. I was already a big fan of the first movie and this one was even better in my opinion. It managed a balancing act of telling an engaging, emotional story (one that got to me) while also providing some hilarious moments in the form of Disney's many many intellectual properties and even some observations on modern society that surprised me. Disney knocked it out of the park and I don't think they can do any wrong at this point. 

4. Hereditary

This movie. Jesus this movie. I'm gonna be honest I don't think I've had a movie psychologically affect me like this since The Babadook. There are some images and sounds from this movie that are forever burned into my mind and I'm afraid that they'll never leave. The atmosphere is almost deafening in how dreading it is and the performance of Toni Collette has to be commended as this couldn't have been easy for her. I want to make it clear that this isn't a movie filled with jumpscares and monsters in closets. This is is psychological horror that burrows itself under your skin and refuses to leave until you've torn your flesh in an attempt to remove it. I love it. 

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I have to be honest and say that I wasn't really looking forward to this one before release. I'd been so accustomed to a live action Spider Man that an animated one (and one that wasn't Peter Parker) made by Sony didn't really appeal to me and even the trailer didn't tempt me. Thankfully I was very incorrect in my assumptions and this turned out to be better than I could have hoped and I'll even say it's better than any live action Spider-Man we've ever had. The story is interesting, the multiple Spider-Men, Women and..... animals were all great and all had their own unique personalities to the point where I'd love to see them in their own adventures. While the Kingpin wasn't the greatest villain, he wasn't really the focus. This was a blast from start to end and I had a huge smile on my face all the way. Consider me a fan of Miles Morales now. 

2. Halloween

Yes while this isn't better than most movies on this list or even the best horror on the list, this is one I just personally adored to the point where I've now seen it 3 times in the cinema and plan to purchase the Blu Ray as soon as it's released. Hell I even bought the damn soundtrack on vinyl. The original Halloween is one of my all time favourite movies and this movie felt like a true sequel to that. Michael Myers was once again scary. He wasn't some plot point like Laurie Strode's brother or the tool of a satanic cult. He was just pure evil incarnate and I loved him more than I have in a while. Also Jamie Lee Curtis was just superb as Laurie and deserves some kind of award. Just please no more sequels Hollywood. This was the perfect ending for such a hallowed character. 

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Of course this had to be number 1. I've raved about this movie all year and I'd easily slot it into my top 5 movies of all time. I saw it 3 times in cinema and have seen it a further 2 times since it was released on Blu Ray. This movie had the seemingly impossible task of making the culmination of 10 years of work and effort satisfactory and it did it in spades. Every major character got a chance to shine, Thanos was a fantastic villain and one of the best we've ever seen in terms of comic book movies. It did all this and still had the balls to give it's audience the bleakest ending possible, making even Empire Strikes Back seem like a happy ending in comparison. This is a movie I've been waiting years for and the wait was worth it.

And now for a little bonus I thought that I'd list my 5 least favourite films of the year. Like I said earlier, I haven't seen every movie this year so I' sure that there were others that could make the list, but these were the ones I witnessed that deserved to be panned in my eyes.

5. Fifty Shades Freed

This one's a bit of a cheat since I haven't actually seen this outside of the trailer, but the fact that this movie exists and the fact that I have seen the first one and know that this is more of the same except with an actual ending earns its place here. Let's hope Twilight fan fiction never sees the light of day again.

4. The Cloverfield Paradox

While not a distinctly terrible movie, this one was just a big disappointment. I'm a big fan of Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, but sadly this movie doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those ones. This was just a complete bore from start to end and then it tried to salvage itself by showing the monster from the first Cloverfield to try and tie into the franchise in a move that felt lazy and uninspired.

3. The Nun

In fairness I wasn't really expecting much from this, but come on surely there could have been some effort put in here. I thought the filmmakers had learned their lesson after the first Annabelle movie, but sadly this might have been even worse with a boring plot and even more infuriating scares. How do you fuck up the potential of a zombie nun! That should have been golden. Unless she makes an appearance in the next Conjuring movie, I think this may have been the last we'll see of The Nun.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Boy was this a disappointment. I feel like I'm one of the only people that really enjoyed the first Jurassic World and it's one I've watched a few times since. So when the trailer dropped I was pretty excited. I don't know what happened here but this was a mess. Many of the plot elements from the first are copied here (scientists creating an even more dangerous dinosaur, evil corporation involved) and with that, they even added a confusing and uninteresting clone storyline that didn't need to be here. The actors barely even try as everyone here is just in it for the paycheck and it sets up for a sequel that I'm no longer interested in.

Oh and when you advertise Jeff Goldblum, I expect way more that just the trailer scenes in the movie. That might have been the worst sin this movie committed.

1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crime of Grindelwald

I'm not gonna lie, I hated this movie. HATED it. When the end credits hit I couldn't help but think "Was that it?" This was such a lazy movie and it feels like the whole thing was written in autopilot by whoever scripted it. Trip to Hogwarts for the fans? Check. References to the Harry Potter movies that weren't needed? Check. A boring plot that ignores elements from the first movie for the sake of a plot that moves slower than a snail on a broken lift? Check. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who adores the Harry Potter movies and books to a point where I've spent obscene amounts of money on merch and have visited the Harry Potter studio in London and Harry Potter land in Florida. This movie was a disgrace to the franchise and I didn't enjoy any of it. Just bin it.

And now for a bonus list that's a bit different. I thought I would show a bit more personality for anyone that may not know me and thought I'd give a bonus list of my 10 favourite albums that came out this year. This year has been huge musically for me as I've discovered dozens of new bands I'd never listened to before and have been to more gigs than ever before.

I've had the Download Festival which featured some favourites like Avenged Sevenfold, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N Roses, I went all the way to Newcastle for an Iron Maiden gig which still may be the best night of my life, got to witness the final gig of Slayer in Glasgow, and had one of the more emotional nights of my life where I got to see Bring Me The Horizon live. If it's possible, 2019 looks like it may be even better. With that said, here's the 10 albums that made my year that little bit better. Hope you enjoy.

10. Biffy Clyro - MTV Unplugged Live at the Roundhouse London

Might be a little bit of a cheat here since this is a live album with only one new song, but this is one I've been listening to since it's release and I friggin' love it. Biffy are one of the best bands in the mainstream just now and their performance here was just great from some of the better new tracks like Medicine, Re-Arrange and Small Wishes, to the modern classics we love like The Captain, Many of Horror and Bubbles all sounding great even when stripped down to an acoustic set. The version of Machines on this album is a song I use whenever I'm feeling a bit down and with that kind of power, I couldn't leave this off. 

Recommended songs: Machines, Many of Horror, Opposite

9. Evanescence - Synthesis

Again this one's a little bit of a cheat as most of these songs have been released before and there's only a couple of new tracks, but every song has been updated with an orchestra behind it and it makes almost every track sound better than it ever has. Amy Lee's voice is better than ever and I'd highly recommend the live album that recently came out as I got the chance to see these guys live back in April and the performances were just stunning. 

Recommended songs: Imperfection, Lost in Paradise, My Heart is Broken

8. Satan - Cruel Magic

This is one I've only listened to recently, but where the hell has this band been all my life? This is exactly what I was looking for. This is classic 1980s heavy metal to a tee and something that we need way more of in the current metal scene. The vocalist Brian Ross is just totally on point here and deserves a ton of praise. If you like your classic Iron Maiden, Dio or Black Sabbath then this is a band you'll want to listen to. 

Recommended songs: Into the Mouth of Eternity, Cruel Magic, The Doomsday Clock

7. Horrendous - Idol

Horrendous is a band I've quickly fallen in love with since I first listened to this album and while they've only been around since 2012 and have four albums, their music is intricate and their album covers epic. I mean look at that thing! It's horrific and it's already my wallpaper. Lovecraftian nightmares always go down well with me (as you'll see later) and this is what first attracted me to them. The entire album is definitely worth a listen for death metal enthusiasts from the quiet, dread-filled opening of ...Prescience to the epic ending of Obulus, this one is worth your time. 

Recommended songs: Soothesayer, Golgothan Tongues, Devotion - Blood for Ink

6. Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit

Another one I've only listened to recently but my god has this one stuck in head since. I'm not even sure how to describe this band as I feel like they can be listened to by all kinds of music fans and find themselves loved. They tend to mix the worlds of scream metal, blues and even slave chants for what is quite the muscial experience. After this I'll definitely be checking out more of the band's work. Every track stands out on it's own and the instrumental breaks lend themselves well to the experience. Check them out no matter your musical preference. 

Recommended songs: Gravedigger's Chant, Don't You Dare, We Can't Be Found

5. Anaal Nathrakh - A New Kind of Horror

I might lose a few people with this but this is the kind of music I need in my life. This might just be the most visceral band I've ever listened to and I love it. This album was made in reference to the 100th year since the end of the First World War and the horrors that came with it and even includes many machine gun sound effects that add to the experience. This isn't a happy album but is short at 32 minutes and not a single second is wasted. I imagine this is what serial killers hear in their head while they commit their atrocities. Definitely not recommended for everyone. 

Recommended songs: Obscene as Cancer, The Reek of Fear, Forward!, The Horrid Strife

4. Judas Priest - Firepower

This was one was a bit anxious about before it's release as Judas Priest are one of my all time favourite bands and their recent work hasn't exactly been stellar. Thankfully Priest were more than up to the task and released what it probably their best album since the fantastic Painkiller. Every song here is a hit with a few that can more than live up to Priest's classics from decades past. I'm seeing them in February and I can't wait to hear some of these in person. 

Recommended songs: Lightning Strike, Never the Heroes, Rising From Ruins, Spectre

3. Revocation - The Outer Ones

This is another one that's quite recent, but it's one I've quickly fallen in love with as it just hits all the right notes for me. The band doesn't stick to one kind of metal and tends to mix the best elements of thrash and death metal for a refreshing sound. That's not to mention some of the face melting guitar solos that are some of the best I've heard in a while. Also just look at that cover! I already have a poster for this on my wall due to it's cosmic nature. Many songs also feature stories that you would likely hear in many of H.P. Lovecraft's tales of the unknown. All killer no filler. Consider me a fan. 

Recommended songs: Of Unworldy Origin, That Which Consumes All Things, Fathomless Catacombs, The Outer Ones

2. Architects - Holy Hell

This is an album I've been looking forward to for some time and there's a bit of a story behind it. Sadly back in August 2016, the band's founding member and guitarist Tom Searle passed away after a three year battle with skin cancer. It didn't seem like the band would ever make an album again, but then decided to make one that Tom would be proud of. Mission accomplished lads. This album is just terrific and you can just feel the emotion dripping through every song as the guys unleash their grief through their stunning music and especially the juggernaut of a single that is Doomsday. I'm getting to see these guys in a few weeks and I can't even imagine how emotional the night will be. Metalcore is in safe hands.

Recommended Songs: Doomsday, Hereafter, Royal Beggars, Modern Misery, Holy Hell, A Wasted Hymn

1. Ghost - Prequelle

I did keep going back and forth between the number 1 and 2 slots, but I think I'm happy with this at the top. Ghost is band I first listened to in June this year, and since then they've gone on to become of my favourite bands as I just can't get enough of them. Their songs are filled with satanic references and tales of rituals and the darker side of religion that I gravitate towards. Prequelle might actually be their best as it's the sound of a band maturing for the best and not sticking to one sound. 

This album features some of their catchiest songs and some slower ones that are definitely worthy of a listen as well. There's even two great instrumental tracks with Miasma (that sexy saxophone solo!) especially being a true highlight of the album. It's not heavy or metal or even rock a bit of the time, but it doesn't need to be. It's just Ghost and travelling down to see them with Metallica next year will be an honour.

Recommended Songs: Rats, See the Light, Pro Memoria, Dance Macabre, Witch Image, Miasma, Life Eternal

Have a happy new year everyone. And thanks for reading. It means the absolute world for me. 

Friday, 28 December 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: Black Christmas (1974)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! And of course I have to be a weirdo about it and review a horror movie associated with this time of year.

Let's dive straight in and see if this one is a holiday classic that can be enjoyed every year. For anyone interested in checking this out, I was able to watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

No major spoilers.

In terms of horror, this is a pretty historical movie as it is considered one of the earliest slasher movies and inspired other filmmakers such as John Carpenter who would end up directing Halloween four years later, so without this movie that classic may have never even existed.

In terms of the story it is pretty simple. While a sorority house is having a Christmas party, a stranger decides to climb into the house with the intent to pick off potential victims one by one.

First off I'm actually surprised at how tame this movie was overall as there is a distinct lack of gore which I was definitely expecting after hearing about how brutal this movie supposedly was and how it was close to being banned at the time. I think even Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was more violent than this. It's not a bad thing at all though as the film has it's own ways of disturbing the audience.

For example, none of the kills are actually ever shown properly and you're only really shown the implications of how that particular person was murdered and it does work well. Do you remember that scene from Reservoir Dogs where the cop is having his ear cut off but the camera pans away while it's happening, leaving the viewer to picture the horrific scene in their head? This movie is quite like that with one scene where a character has a hook thrown into their face, and all you see is their body shaking from the impact and all you hear is the scream of pain from the victim. It's very effective and more memorable as a result.

Now usually in these kinds of slasher movies the characters are all pretty much throwaway and are there simply to add to the body count, but here every girl has their own distinct personality like the housemother, Mrs MacHenry, who I found hilarious as she constantly goes into her hiding places for her booze when the girls aren't looking for a cheeky drink.

I was rooting for these girls and even found myself nearly shouting at the TV towards the end of the film because I didn't want to see any of them die. I'd also heard that the movie is pro feminist which is true to an extent as none of the girls come across as weak or make dumb decisions.

We also have our main girl Jess who announces to her boyfriend at the start of the movie that she's pregnant but doesn't want to keep the baby. Her boyfriend tries to stop her but she's determined to get rid of it. There's a few scenes like this in the movie with Jess almost being forced into doing what she doesn't want to by him, only for her to deny him and do what she wants to do. It's actually pretty refreshing considering the time period.

And then we have the killer. After watching this I have no doubt in my mind that this is one of the all time great slasher villains just due to the subtlety alone. Throughout the whole movie he pretty much remains nameless (he's known as Billy because he keeps uttering this name to himself) and faceless. You never see what this guy looks like which adds to the mystery of his identity since it could be a character we already know, and also leaves you picturing what he looks like with your own thoughts and fears to make him even more terrifying.

When he's alone he's a raving lunatic making no sense at all, but when he's on the hunt, he's as silent as a cat ready to pounce on the next bit of prey. You can see clearly where the inspirations for Michael Myers in Halloween came from.

If I was to have any criticism of the movie I would say that for a 90 minute movie it does slow down a little in the middle with not much going on which does hurt the replay value slightly, but it isn't enough to derail the movie and if anything adds to the tension of wondering when Billy will strike next.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this movie as I wasn't expecting much but ended up getting a fun slasher that was better than most horror movies today. This is one I'll be keeping for watching only at Christmas time. If you enjoy slashers or just want something different at Christmas then I'd definitely recommend checking this out on Amazon Video or the DVD/Blu Ray.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: Halloween (2018)

This movie is special to me. Weirdly it's only after watching it the first time that I realised this. Everyone that knows me knows how much of a horror movie fanatic I am and how obsessive I can be over some of my favourites in the genre.

I don't think I would have any of that if it weren't for Michael Myers. The first Halloween movie I watched was Halloween: Resurrection when I was pretty young (probably around 9 or 10 years) and while that's a terrible edition to start with, I was hooked and couldn't get enough of it.

From there I've seen just about every other movie in the series and I've never had that fanboy obsession outside of the 1978 original. So really it's over half my life I've been waiting for a proper sequel that the characters involved with the original deserve. I may have just gotten my wish.

No spoilers. And for clarity, I've already seen this twice and own the awesome soundtrack on vinyl.

So for anyone new to this, this movie takes place 40 years after the events of the 1978 classic and ignores every single sequel or remake since then which I absolutely love.

We start off in the psychiatric institution in which Myers has been held prisoner for the last 40 years since being captured after the massacre of 1978. Two Brits are there to make a podcast discussing the events of the massacre and they try to get a response out of Michael, and even bring out his old mask. It doesn't go well.

On the other side of the coin we have Laurie Strode whose role is reprised by the always lovely Jamie Lee Curtis. She is the survivor of the original massacre and those events have stuck with her as she's now a total survivalist, even going so far as to spend her daughter's early years training her self defence and how to use a gun, leading to social services taking her away.

It really puts a proper impact on the events of the first movie to see just how badly the killings affected the lives of so many. In fact you could totally watch the first movie and then put this on straight after as they go together so well.

During a transfer to a new institution, the bus crashes and Michael Myers is free once again, leaving the poor little town of Haddonfield to experience some major deja vu as more killings are afoot. The Shape has returned.

This is classic Michael Myers and the one we've needed for some time. He isn't just some brute that storms around in a rampage killing people. He's a stalker that sticks to the shadows and patiently waits for his opportunity to strike. He's the image of pure evil. He has no reason to go around killing other than it's all he knows, or maybe it's just instinct. You can never tell with him. He's the classic monster that isn't some supernatural ghost or demon that we've needed in pop culture for quite some time. 

His kills start off quite simply, but as the movie goes on they do tend to get a bit gorier, and the faint of heart may have to look away at certain points.

It's not too scary either as it does rely on a couple of cheap jumpscares, but Myers does get his fair share of shit your pants moments like a scene featuring a motion tracker that'll stick with me for some time. There is also one scene towards the end of the movie that just never seems to end and it continually builds the tension higher and higher until you have to cover your eyes out of sheer fear. I loved it.

Jamie Lee Curtis almost steals the show herself and I daresay that she was Oscar worthy at certain points. Just seeing her as a gun toting badass preparing for the arrival of the devil himself was so much fun to watch and really gave a proper new dynamic to the character. It's almost a revenge movie in a way.

There's some fun homages to the original movie without totally ripping it off. Kind of like The Force Awakens. This movie was made for the fans in the best way possible. The soundtrack is fantastic as well as it was worked on by John Carpenter and features updated versions of the classic themes from the original that I can't get enough of.

This whole movie is a love letter to classic slasher horror and I feel like it's a movie the horror genre has needed for quite a while. We've been relying too much on the supernatural to scare us, and this movie showed that the horrors of humanity can be enough to scare the daylights out of you. You might not feel safe in your home for a while.

Overall I could go on and on about what I love here but quite a bit of that features spoilers so I'll stop here. I loved this movie and as a fan of the horror genre and of Michael Myers in general, I heartily approve of everything here. This is going down as an October classic and it's one I plan on watching every Halloween from now on, along with the original.

Definitely check this out. You won't regret it.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Ross's TV Reviews: The Haunting of Hill House (S1, E1)

For anyone that's read a few of my reviews you know that I never steer too far away from the realm of movies, but this is one that had me intrigued.

In all honesty I've never really been into TV shows at all and have only finished a couple of them off with a few famous ones still leering over my head.

I wasn't even sure that I was going to watch this show as it did seem pretty good from it's trailer but never seemed like something I could invest myself in.

Then the online articles started appearing, claiming that viewers of the show could not sleep from fear, that they passed out during viewings, and felt horrible anxiety at all times.

I was intrigued and even more so when I found some reviews claiming that this series is one of Netflix's best. At this point I knew I had to watch it and see for myself.

Reviewing a TV show is something completely new to me so bear with me if this isn't a decent read the first time. I'll be keeping this spoiler free and as short as possible.

Should point out that this is Netflix only for anyone wanting to watch.

So we start off right in Hill House back in 1992 as a teenage boy is awoken by the cries of his little sister from another room. He goes to investigate and finds his sister, Nell, is scared by a ghost she thought she saw, one known as 'break neck lady'. Her father appears to calm her down and puts her back to bed. I won't mention what happens next but it's an early indicator of how truly nightmarish this series could really be. Good luck sleeping.

We cut to 2018 and see what the kids from 1992 (all five of them) are up to. A couple of them such as Steven, Theo and Shirley are doing well for themselves in the fields of writing, psychology and mortician work respectively, while the others, Luke and Nell, are either in rehab or...... well I'm not quite sure yet.

The plot of this episode revolves around Nell trying to get into contact with the rest of her family for an unknown reason other than thinking that there might be something wrong with her brother Luke. It all seems to stem from childhood trauma of living in Hill House and through her supernatural experiences which are likely to give nightmares to some viewers.

It almost plays out like Stephen King's IT as we do go back and forth between 1992 and 2018 as we see how the events of the past are now affecting the future and how each of the kids seems to have a different experience.

For a first episode it does it's job very well by introducing to a few characters and having them be memorable in their own way while also driving this mysterious story onward and making you ache to find out what happened in that house all that time ago.

It doesn't go overboard with the scares and delivers them at just the right time. There's no cheap jumpscares to be had here, just intense atmosphere and a spilling of dread to wash it down with. There was actual one jumpscare but it furthered the plot so I'll give it a pass.

Overall I'd give this a recommendation if you're looking for something spooky this Halloween and I'm hoping the rest of the series lives up to the good buildup we've had from this one.

No rating until the end of the series.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Ross's Spooky Reviews: Terrifier

Yeah I know that every review I post is spooky, but it's the month of October so just role with it.

This is one I've been trying to review for the past month but other things have gotten in the way. Now it's time to shine a light on Terrifier. This one received a bit of hype due to the creepy clown killer featured on it's posters and trailer. Is all this enough to lead to a great horror experience? Let's take a look.

As usual no major spoilers and make sure to check out Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @rossd9711

The movie begins in a talk show as a woman with a deformed face is being interviewed. Her face is the result of an attack from a killer clown known only as Art. The talk show host ends up making fun of her and...... well let's just say it doesn't end well.

Cut to Halloween night and we follow two girls, Tara and Dawn, as they make their way home from a Halloween party and decide to get some pizza. They run into Art the clown and things start to get weird. He won't stop staring at Tara and he never makes a sound the entire time even with all his creepy poses.

I'm not usually bothered by clowns but by god this one is absolutely the creepiest one I've ever seen. He can give Pennywise a run for his money any day. He's played by David Howard Thornton and apparently this is his big screen debut which is mind-blowing because he comes across as an absolute pro here.

He's in the movie pretty much straight away and I was worried that he would start to become boring as the movie went on. He never did. If anything he somehow grew creepier as it continued. He even got a few chuckles out of me too. I really need a sequel or a prequel to see him again. I loved him.

There's one scene in particular where he decides to dress as a woman in order to trick another character and it's honestly one of the most disturbing things I've seen and will haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. His movements are just so unnatural that it can't help but turn your stomach. Another bit of proof that you don't need shite jumpscares to get a proper good scare on the audience.

The movie does come across as a gritty kind of B movie but it completely works to it's advantage. It's almost like Robert Rodriguez and Eli Roth co-directed this. While no other characters outside of Art really stood out, everyone performed well here with no one coming across as bad which did surprise me.

There is one character simply known as Cat Lady and I have no idea what her purpose was here. Her strange character is never explained as she just seems to live in the bowels of this building and no one knew she was there and she believes a doll is her baby. Granted she does give us a few creepy scenes with Art so I'll give her a pass.

For anyone not into gore you're going to want to stay from this as there is tons of it splattered around the place. I don't want to go into spoilers because some of the gorier scenes are really inventive, but my goodness a lot of the things I've seen here will stick with me. I don't think I'll be able to take a selfie again (if you've seen it you know exactly what I mean).

Overall I had a blast with the movie and I think it's destined to become a future Halloween classic; one that you can watch with your friends and just enjoy. I know some movie critics look down on it as they see it as exploitative cinema, but as a horror fan I couldn't have been happier. You've got a joyously over the top antagonist and a plot that keeps you guessing. What more could I ask for?

Definitely check this. Unless your squeamish and hate clowns. Then definitely don't.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: Venom

Oh my have I been waiting for this one. Venom is one of my favourite ever comic book characters and maybe my number one favourite outside of The Joker.

Ever since the mess that was Spider Man 3 came out I've been anxiously awaiting another chance for sinister symbiote to get his chance to really shine on the big screen. Eleven years later and it looks like my wish came true. Let's begin.

As usual there will be no major spoilers and be sure to check out Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @rossd9711

So our story begins with a rocket crashing back down to earth and it appears that the pilots were able to procure an alien lifeform. One of these lifeforms is able to escape and bonds with a paramedic for an unknown purpose. And we won't find out until around the third act. The rest are being taken to the seemingly evil Life corporation.

Our main character here is news reporter Eddie Brock (played by the always excellent Tom Hardy) as he is given the responsibility of conducting an interview with the chairman of the Life corporation: Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). This doesn't go too well and Eddie finds himself without a job.

Later on, Eddie continues to investigate the Life Corporation and through a series of unfortunate events, ends up bonded with one of the alien lifeforms taken from the ship. This one is known as Venom.

Now it's no secret that Venom has been getting some rather negative reviews from critics with most saying that the movie comes across as dull, but I never got that impression at all. The movie is surprisingly funny throughout and got quite a few laughs from me.

The banter between Eddie and the Venom symbiote is fantastic and might be the best thing about the whole film. Seeing the full Venom suit in all it's glory is also fantastic and he looks great. The action scenes are a lot of fun as its just absolute madness at all times.

I will say that the villainous symbiote, Riot, was a bit disappointing as it did only appear at the start and then did not make any real impact until the film was near to its end and it almost felt rushed because of it. Don't get me wrong, seeing two symbiotes go head to head was a lot of fun but I just wish it had been a bit more focused.

The beginning of the movie also has this issue as it does feel rushed with the first five to ten minutes used to introduce a few key characters and then suddenly it jumps to six months later, which left me wondering what the hell Riot was doing in those six months. Was it just wandering around until it was able to locate the other symbiotes? And why did it take six bloody months?

These are the only real issues I had as otherwise the movie was a lot of fun with everyone performing well, with Tom Hardy especially making a good impression as he was definitely a great choice for the role.

For anyone that reads the Spider-Man and Venom comics there are a few references here and there to look out for so keep your eyes and ears open. Make sure to stay for the end credits as well.

Overall I had fun with this. It wasn't the best comic book movie but it was far from the worst one. All that matters is that Venom got to look good on the big screen and I can only hope that we get to see more of him in future. Maybe in the MCU? Who knows.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: Halloween (2007)

So the new Halloween movie is coming out in about a month so I thought I'd take a look at some (hopefully all) of the movies in the series. Well the ones featuring Myers at least.

This one is the first remake of the series and is directed by Rob Zombie who has not been one of my favourite directors to be honest.

I'm not even sure if this got a good reception when it came out, so I thought I'd check it out to see how it holds up.

No major spoilers and as always, check out Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @rossd9711

Also I reviewed the very first Halloween a while back so take a look:

The very first movie started with Michael killing his older sister. This movie starts just a bit before that because this time we have more of a character study than we've ever had for Myers before.

Straight away it's obvious that this aims to look more at the childhood that turned Michael into the devil we all know in love.

At home he has to deal with an asshole of a sister, a dirty home, his mom's abusive boyfriend and is made fun of by the other kids at school for the fact that his mom is also a stripper. It does a good job trying to make him more sympathetic for the most part even if he himself does just seem like an evil little fucker.

Of course his emotions take a dive off a cliff on Halloween night and he decides to kill everyone in his house that night.

It's at this point in the original where we move straight to Halloween night where Michael returns to continue his murderous rampage, but here we stay with him while he's still a child and going through therapy sessions to find out why he became a killer. We don't actually get to the point where he becomes the true Shape until almost an hour into the movie.

I think this was a complaint amongst fans as they wanted to get straight to classic Michael Myers killing people, but this movie takes its time and in my opinion it's all the better for it. You get a good chance to know the real character who still just seems like any normal young boy, whose mental state starts to slowly decay the more he's kept out of the public.

Here we also have Dr Loomis played by the brilliant Malcolm McDowell and we have a slight twist on his classic character. While he does act like the kind therapist throughout, it appears that he's milking the whole situation by releasing a book and using his sessions with Michael to make money.

A couple of annoying Rob Zombie tropes make an appearance as well, such as making so many characters come across as horrible people to the point that it just becomes an irritant. For example when he attempts to kill his older sister, this should come off as intense but because his sister has been as asshole the whole time, I didn't really mind seeing her biting the dust.

Zombie also uses his trope of characters using unnecessarily shocking dialogue to try and get a reaction out of the viewer. I mean the Halloween story is already pretty shocking enough as it is so I'm not sure why this needed.

Once we do eventually get to the return to Haddonfield as expected, this movie does get surprisingly fun. We get some homages to the original with scenes like Laurie thinking she sees Michael outside her school staring at her, only for him to just vanish. There's also moments where you can just see him standing in the background, watching and waiting, and it is pretty creepy.

Without spoiling anything it does follow a close blueprint of the Carpenter classic, but it takes a slightly different route and stands out on its own because of this. While it's not totally frightening it does have a couple of decent jumpscares and you may not feel safe in your own house for a little while. Remember to check behind those doors....

Surprisingly I had a lot of fun with this and this is honestly one of the better horror remakes I've seen as it kept the original film in it's heart while doing it's own thing. Not to mention that it did a good job of fleshing out the Myers character and bringing back the classic monster.

I'd recommend giving it a look.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 17 September 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: The Predator

It's been 8 years since the last instalment of a Predator movie with Predators (one I'll need to look at some time) and it has quite a bit of hype especially as it's directed by the critically acclaimed Shane Black who also happened to have a big part in the original movie. Did it live up to the hype? Lets's take a look.

As usual no major spoilers and make sure to check out Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @rossd9711

So this movie follows a soldier by the name of Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) as the movie starts off with his group's contact with a crashed alien spaceship that happens to inhabit a Predator. I think this is also the first movie that actually calls them by that name and actually makes a funny joke out of it so kudos.

Anyway Quinn ends up sending parts of the spaceship back home so that the government can't take it from him, and his son accidentally activates it, calling forth the deadliest Predator we've seen yet in order to bring back the cargo. And from here we have our Predator movie.

As this film has now been out for nearly a week, you've probably heard from others that there is quite a bit of comedy in this movie and you would be correct. Although a lot of people have been saying this in a way that makes it sound like it's a hindrance on the movie and I would need to totally disagree with that as the humour is one of the best parts of this.

If you've seen any other Shane Black movie like The Nice Guys then you kind of know what kind of movie you're getting into as this is basically that movie but with Predators added in. Hell, even the Predator gets a couple of chuckles.

This isn't a totally comedic movie though obviously, as we have Predators here and they're here for anything other than a laugh.

There are some gory moments here, maybe the goriest we've seen of any of the movies and it's glorious to watch one of these Predators go to work. There's one scene in particular that has an unarmoured and unarmed Predator having to take out a room full of people and he does it like he's the world's deadliest version of Batman. It's fantastic.

The Predator dogs even make a return but they're disappointingly ineffective in their one 'threatening' scene are basically used as a joke for the rest of the movie. Although they do get some funny scenes so I'll give them a pass.

Just like the original we have a group of soldiers as our heroes and they're surprisingly well fleshed out for the most part. The only one that really disappointed was Lynch (Game of Thrones' Alfie Allen) as I can't remember anything that he actually did in the movie.

On the memorable side we have Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) and Baxley (Thomas Jane) who have what would appear to be a bit of a double act going on and the get the funniest parts of the movie by far and even a couple of sentimental ones that surprised me.

This is more of a fanboy nit pick but I was kind of annoyed that the Predators didn't really get to do any of their stealthy antics that we've seen in every previous movie as they preferred not to sneak around and got involved right in the action.

Still though I had a blast with this film and I have no idea why there seems to be so many negative reviews as I would definitely recommend seeing it whether you're a fan of the franchise or just want a fun Friday night out. This is one worth watching.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Ross's Wrestling Ratings: NJPW Destruction in Hiroshima 2018

So this is the first of the major Destruction shows in NJPW which will be followed by Destruction in Beppu in a couple of days. Here's my ratings for the show

Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero vs Jushin Liger / Tiger Mask / KUSHIDA : **1/4

Toa Henare vs Bad Luck Fale : *

Killer Elite Squad vs Michael Elgin & Ayato Yoshida : **1/2

Kota Ibushi / Chase Owens / Yujiro Takahashi vs Will Ospreay / Chuckie T / Beretta : ***

Bullet Club OG vs Juice Robinson / David Finlay / Ryusuke Taguchi (Never Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Championship) : ***1/4

Taichi / Takashi Iizuka / Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Hirooki Goto / Toru Yano / Gedo : **

Los Ingobernables De Japon vs Suzuki Gun : ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada / Jay White / Yoshi-Hashi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi / Togi Makabe / Tomoaki Honma : ***

Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) : ****3/4

Pretty good show overall as most of the tag matches were fun if inessential and the main event was just crazy and I loved it. Check out the main event for sure.

Ross's Movie Reviews: The Nun

Hey an actual movie in the cinema for me to review! That's a first. I know this one's a bit late but I only got a chance to see it the other night after deciding to brave it alone.

This is the fifth entry into the Conjuring series and while I love those two movies, the spinoffs have been pretty hit or miss with 2014's Annabelle being highly disappointing and 2017's Annabelle being surprisingly good.

The Nun definitely showed potential as we didn't get to see much of her in Conjuring 2 and whenever we did it was a highlight. So did the movie live up to expectations? Let's take a look.

No major spoilers and make sure to check out the Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass page on Facebook where you can find the latest podcast that also takes a look into this movie. Definitely worth a listen.

Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @rossd9711

So the movie starts off in an Abbey in Romania where two nuns appear to be looking into a potential demon in the bowels of the building. It's unleashed and one of the nuns dealing with it decides to commit suicide rather than face it.

The Vatican hears of this and decides to send Father Burke and Sister Irene (the future Lorraine Warren) to investigate why this occurred and to see if the Abbey can still be considered holy. And we now have our horror movie set up.

First off I have to note it's a bit of genius casting to have Vera Farmiga's younger sister Taissa cast as Sister Irene as she genuinely does look like a younger version of Lorraine and plays the part well.

We also meet a local villager near the Abbey who is known as Frenchie and is probably the most memorable character in the whole thing due to being the only comedic character around.

So remember how the first Annabelle movie was just a bunch a jumpscares thrown into a piss thin plot in order to capitalise on the popularity of the demon? This is basically the exact same deal here. Although I do put this one just slightly higher than Annabelle for a few reasons but not by much.

I mean for a movie titled 'The Nun' she barely makes any appearances here aside from the disappointing climax and some sections in the middle of the movie but that's about it which is a shame because the character is awesome and I wanted more of her.

The rest of the time it's just her undead minions that seem to be trying for the scares, including a little boy known as Daniel from Father Burke's past who decides to make a couple of appearances but he's really not that scary and the story goes nowhere. Burke just seems to forget about him as if he's nothing.

Without spoiling it, I did enjoy the backstory of how the demon known as Valak came into our world and formed the blasphemous image of a nun as it does explain how such an evil monster could come into this world.

The scares are pretty awful as they go for the obvious jumpscares that just get annoying after a while with so many scenes involving the camera panning back and you know that there's going to be something there to jump at you every single time. The other Conjuring movies did this way better.

There is one scene that I found creepy involving Frenchie in a graveyard as it turns out that zombie nuns are just as scary as demon-possessed nuns but this is the only creepy scene that stuck out to me.

I can't fault the actors performances in this as it does feel like they're trying even with the obstacle of a stunted script. I think Frenchie is the only one that knows he's in a dumb movie and just hams it up when he can and I thank him for that.

Speaking of Frenchie though, the movie does try for some comedy moments almost in the vein of what you would hear in a modern Marvel movie, but it does it at the weirdest times like another scene involving the zombie nun which should come across as frightning but just ends up being funny due to a Frenchie punchline. It can be kind of off putting when the movie is trying to be scary and funny at the same time.

While the ending was disappointing, it did tie into the future Conjuring movies in a way I enjoyed and does explain quite a bit about The Nun.

Overall this was a pretty bland movie that had it's moments but did disappoint overall especially with an interesting premise like this one. Hopefully we see the Nun again and like Annabelle, the sequel will be way better. Other than that, there's way better movies out there that can scare you. Some of which I may be reviewing soon.....

Rating: 4/10

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Ross's Wrestling Ratings: Hell in a Cell 2016

Match Ratings:

Roman Reigns vs Rusev (Hell in a Cell match / United States Championship) : ***1/2

Bayley vs Dana Brooke : 1/2*

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows : **1/4

Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins (Hell in a Cell match / Universal Championship) : ****

TJ Perkins vs Brian Kendrick (Cruiserweight Championship) : **1/4

The New Day vs Sheamus & Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Championship) : ***1/2

Sasha Banks vs Charlotte (Hell in a Cell match / Raw Women's Championship) : ***3/4

Quick Thoughts:

Surprisingly good show I enjoyed more the second time around. All the Cell matches delivered and even exceeded expectations in certain places. Nothing was terrible outside of the Dana Brooke match but at least that one was kept short.

Recommended for a pleasant viewing.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Ross's Movie Reviews: Predator (1987)

It's been a while since my last movie review hasn't it? That won't be the case anymore as I'll be doing way less wrestling reviews and focusing more on movies and games.

So I was planning on looking at other movies but then the new Predator movie kind of snuck up on me and releases in just over a week, so I thought I'd take a look at the original that started it all over 30 years ago. How does it hold up? Let's take a look.

No major spoilers and as always be sure to check out Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for review updates @rossd9711

The movie follows Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the leader of a troop of badass commandos, well known for their fantastic tactical skill, as they have been brought in by Dillon (Carl Weathers) on a rescue mission to find survivors of a helicopter crash in a South American jungle.

Unfortunately the survivors appear to have been butchered and some taken hostage by a group of rebels. Even more unfortunately, there appears to be something deadlier lurking in the forest that will become a bit of a problem.

This movie was released a year after the fantastic Aliens and its set up has a similar feel in that we're introduced to this group of tough soldiers that seem untouchable, only for them to go up against impossible odds. The major difference being that this group actually gets a proper chance to show off their skills, specifically in a shootout in a village against some of the rebels.

This part of the movie is terrifically fun with Arnie throwing around some of his awesomely cheesy one liners (Stick around!) and the rest of the team gets to shine, including legendary wrestling star Jesse Ventura. In this part he gets what is one of the coolest lines ever as one of the team notes that he's bleeding and he replies with "I ain't got time to bleed". How can you not love that? Plus he has a pretty sick minigun that is used quite a bit.

What's also an interesting fact of the film is that one of the troops, Hawkins, is played by great director Shane Black, who is now directing the 2018 Predator film. I think we may be in good hands come release day.

Although I think we all know who the biggest star of the movie is: The Predator.

If the Alien is the perfect organism, then this thing is definitely the perfect hunter. I love this creature and it's one of my all time favourites. It just looks so unique and it's methods of killing are so fun to watch. Gory as well mind you, as it doesn't mind some dismemberment, and tends to skin victims once he's finished killing them in brutal fashion. It can also go invisible at will, meaning it always feels like it's there, watching and waiting to pounce on the next unfortunate soul that comes across it. Pretty scary.

Sadly some of the special effects to bring the creature to life have dated quite a bit, especially when it's invisible as it almost makes me wish that they'd done some George Lucas magic and redone them. I will say though that the heat vision sections do look really cool and actually give some decent jumpscares at the same time as the moments in which it's used come out of nowhere.

When it comes to Arnie vs The Predator it's some of the best action scenes you'll see as Arnie uses all his knowledge of how the creature operates to try and take it down once and for all, so he can end the killing and avenge the dead.

The only real criticism I have is a side plot involving Dillon's real intentions for the troop but it's only really there to cause a bit of drama and is never really brought up again so it adds nothing to the main story and ends up being completely forgetful.

Still though this movie is a stone cold classic. It's one of the best action movies you'll get to experience and I implore you to watch it if you haven't seen it before as it's one that can't be missed. Plus it has Arnie screaming "Get to the choppa!". Need I say more?

Rating: 9/10

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Ross's Wrestling Ratings: All In

Zero Hour:

SCU (Scorpio Sky & Kazarian) vs The Briscoe Brothers : ***1/2

Over Budget Battle Royale : ****

Main Show :

MJF vs Matt Cross : ***

Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell : ***

Tessa Blanchard vs Britt Baker vs Chelsea Green vs Madison Rayne : ****

Nick Aldis vs Cody (NWA World Heavyweight Championship) : ****

Joey Janela vs Hangman Page (Chicago Street Fight) : ***3/4

Jay Lethal vs Flip Gordon : ***1/2

Kenny Omega vs Penta El Zero : ****1/2

Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll : ****1/2

The Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi vs Rey Mysterio Jr / Rey Fenix / Bandido : ***3/4

Quick Thoughts:

Holy crap this show was a blast to watch and I was never bored. No bad matches here and some even exceeding expectations. Check this one out ASAP.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Ross's Wrestling Ratings : WWE Weekly Roundup 27/08/2018

Another week of wrestling and more ratings to give. And next week I'll also have All In and the Mae Young Classic to look at. Yay for more work.

Finn Balor vs Baron Corbin : *1/2

Sasha Banks vs Dana Brooke : 3/4*

Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens (Intercontinental Championship) : ****

The B-Team vs The Revival : *1/2

Natalya vs Alicia Fox : 1/2*

Bobby Lashley vs The Ascension : DUD

Dean Ambrose vs Jinder Mahal : 1/2*

Roman Reigns & Braun Strowman vs Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre : *

Quick Thoughts:

Not much to this show outside of a great IC Title match.

It's full steam ahead for the build to Hell in a Cell and we have a couple of matches set for the show like Reigns vs Strowman being announced and Bliss vs Rousey for the women's title. It seems we also have a tag title rematch set for the show.

The Bar vs The Good Brothers vs The Colons : **1/4

Naomi vs Billie Kay : DUD

Daniel Bryan vs Andrade Cien Almas : **3/4

Charlotte vs Carmella (Smackdown Women's Championship) : **1/2

Quick Thoughts:

Fun show with the return of King Booker (hilarious) and more set up for Hell in a Cell matches like AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe (surprisingly not in the Cell) and Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton (surprisingly in the Cell).

Lynch vs Charlotte looks like it's gonna be amazing and even the mixed tag match is looking better and better.

Akira Tozawa vs The Brian Kendrick : **1/4

Hideo Itami vs Hammond Edgar : 1/2*

Kalisto vs Buddy Murphy : ***3/4

Quick Thoughts:

As usual 205 Live is one of the funnest wrestling shows of the week and I would highly recommend it. This show was only 50 minutes and it flew by.

Dakota Kai vs Aliyah : **1/4

Keith Lee vs Luke Menzies : *

Ricochet & Pete Dunne vs The Undisputed Era : ***1/4

Quick Thoughts:

As always NXT is a blast, giving us fun matches while setting up future ones. Gargano vs Dream sounds great next week. 

Top 3 Matches of the Week:

1) Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens
2) Kalisto vs Buddy Murphy
3) Ricochet & Pete Dunne vs The Undisputed Era