Cold Prey

"Cold Prey" box set

Cold Prey (2006)
Cold Prey: Resurrection (2008)

Warning: this review may contain spoilers, particularly around who lives and who dies...

Cold Prey (its Norwegian title is Fritt Vilt) is described in a DVD cover-blurb as "probably the most perfect slasher movie of all time". How well it meets that glowing promise, I couldn't say—I guess in large part it depends how you define the "slasher" genre—but it was certainly an entertaining entry in the field.

The opening scene shows somebody—a young boy, in this case—running through the snow, fleeing from something, some unseen horror. Needless to say, he does not escape. Next we are introduced to our cast of soon-to-be victims, a group of attractive young people on their way to a snow-boarding holiday. We have an established couple who are very close, and the question of whether or not they should move in together appears to be their only source of disagreement, a new couple who are still testing the waters, and a, well, fifth wheel, a single guy. The two girls are close friends; it was never entirely made clear who the fifth person was friends with. Not that it mattered; these were all pretty close friends, and there was very little personal conflict when everything went wrong.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

"The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover"

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
"What you've got to realize is that the clever cook puts unlikely things together, like duck and orange, like pineapple and ham. It's called 'artistry'."

Several years ago, on a whim, I plugged "draughtsman" into IMDB to see what came up. That was how I discovered The Draughtsman’s Contract, a film by Peter Greenaway. True to form I promptly started looking for other films by the same director—without ever having watched the first one! Apart from having seen The Pillow Book on late night TV, long before I knew who Peter Greenaway (or even Ewan McGregor) was, I still hadn’t watched any of them until now. A friend wanted to borrow The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and, since I have a vague rule (oft-broken) about not lending out a DVD unless I’ve at least watched it first, here we are.

Since said friend may well read this I shall keep this commentary spoiler-free.

El Mariachi Trilogy

"Desperado" poster

El Mariachi (1992)
Desperado (1995)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

"The most drop-dead gorgeous woman you'll ever see."

That's how they describe Salma Hayek (or rather, Salma Hayek's character) in Once Upon a Time in Mexico—and it's difficult to argue.

I've just watched the three movies: El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.  Together they form a fairly loose trilogy that follows the adventures of an itinerant musician -- the role taken first by Carlos Gallardo, and then Antonio Banderas.

The first movie was made by Robert Rodriguez on a budget of approximately $3.50 and a slice of pizza. All things considered, it actually holds up remarkably well, and does a fine job of telling its tale of mistaken identity, a drug war, and the wandering Mariachi who gets caught in the middle.

Juan of the Dead

"Juan of the Dead" poster

Juan of the Dead (2011)
“He's Havana Killer Day”

I just watched Juan of the Dead — an obvious play, at least as far as the title goes, on Shaun of the Dead! Juan is a Cuban film, for a change; I don’t have many of those!

In Shaun, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost wander obliviously through the early days of a zombie uprising; once they finally realise what’s going on, they and a small group of friends set out for that bastion of safety: the local Pub.

In Juan, Alexis Diaz and Jorge Molina (who could perhaps, if you squint, be considered a rough Cuban equivalent of Pegg and Frost) wander obliviously through the early days of a zombie uprising (in fact, even once they realise that the dead are walking, they experiment with “Vampire”, “Demon”, and “Lycanthrope” without ever quite hitting on the Z-word!)

Once they realise what’s going on, they and a small group of friends do the only sane thing: they go into business!

Fear the Frogs

"Frogs" Movie Poster

Frogs (1972)
"If you are squeamish stay at home!!!"

So I’m watching Frogs. After my nights in the caravan, up in Darwin, surrounded by billions of the ravenous beasties all thirsting for my blood—or at the very least, determined to slightly hamper my attempts to sleep—it seemed the thing to do. If you really want to watch this movie for yourself, if you really don’t want any spoilers, look away now… No really, read no further if you ever want to find out for yourself how this gem of cinematic excellence turns out!

Here be spoilers…

Shoot 'Em Up

"Shoot 'Em Up" poster

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
"Guns don't kill people. But they sure help!"

From the moment I first heard about Shoot ‘Em Up I was excited about seeing it—based, I suspect, purely on the title alone. And yet when I first saw the DVD sitting on a shelf (in Sanity, I believe) I hesitated. I always find myself feeling a little disappointed if a movie weighs in with a running time of less than 90 minutes—not, perhaps, the best or most logical criteria for pre-judging a movie, but I can’t seem to shake it off! Shoot ‘Em Up, of course, runs for a mere 83 minutes. So I put it back on the shelf, and I managed to convince myself that it would be rather less than I had hoped for.

Near Dark

"Near Dark" poster

Near Dark (1987)
"They can only kill you once, but they can terrify you forever."

Name a movie that stars Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein. Aliens, right? So how many of you have heard of (or better yet, seen) Near Dark? It was a new one on me. The DVD cover image—a rather gory and mostly unrecognisable Paxton—caught my eye. The names Lance Henricksen and Bill Paxton, listed one beneath the other, inspired me to pick it up and scan the back cover for details. The line "This is more than simply the most ferociously original vampire move of our generation: NEAR DARK is one of the best horror movies of all time" convinced me to buy it and give it a chance. I must have been twenty minutes in before I got a good look at one of the other characters and thought "hey waitaminnit, that's Vasquez!"

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