The home of cult movies and genre cinema: from grindhouse to schlock, sexploitation to blaxploitation, kung fu to samurai, manga to J-horror, monster movies, mondo, spaghetti westerns and space operas. With added Steven Seagal.
Death Race 2 (2010) was a prequel to Paul W.S. Anderson's Death Race (2008) and the origin story of the series' enigmatic anti-hero, Frankenstein. In it, we learned that the man behind the metal mask and black onesie was Carl Lucas (Luke Goss), an erstwhile bankrobber and getaway driver. Here, his story continues. The good news is that multiple skin grafts mean he's no longer the crispy critter he was towards the end of DR 2, and bar a bit of scarring he's more or less back to his normal self again, i.e., the spitting image of that bloke in Maroon 5. The bad news is, Death Race's owner (Ving Rhames, in a cameo role only) has been bought out by Niles York (Dougray Scott), a slimy Brit intent on pumping up the mayhem and turning the show into a worldwide franchise. So it's off to the notorious Kalahari Prison, whose perimeter is patrolled by armed guards with jackals on leashes, where Frankenstein, assisted by his lovely co-pilot Katrina (Tanit Pheonix) and faithful pit crew (Ted Koehler and Danny Trejo), must take part in a gruelling cross-desert race with a range of all-new rugged vehicles and manic foes.
It's not often that the script is the star of a film. That, though, is undoubtedly so with Piranha (1978). The famous line about the fish eating the guests might not be quite as crisply epigrammatic as you remember (“The piranhas...” “What about the piranhas?” “They're eating the guests, sir”), but otherwise the screenplay is a model of its kind, fizzing with gags, scares and memorable characters. Its writer, John Sayles, was later to become one of America's most celebrated indie directors with thoughtful dramas such as Matewan, Eight Men Out and Passion Fish. But penning low-budget shockers was how he got his foot in the door; and his razor wit elevated what should have been a cheap, disposable Jaws knockoff into a hardy cult classic, with teeth.
The sulky eye. The quivering lower lip. Those swooping, lighting-cameraman-friendly cheekbones. At the height of her career in the late '60s and early '70s, Faye Dunaway was the Hollywood leading lady par excellence (although she went on a bit of a slide in later years, earning herself a reputation as a troublesome diva and the cruel nickname Dun Fadeaway). And she's the main reason for watching The Deadly Trap (1971), a middling mystery of madness where, would you believe it, all is not as it seems.
Chernobyl Diaries, or Dumb Americans Tour Europe (ft. Zombies), starts off as a home movie of a holiday. Waving in front of the Eiffel Tower! Waving in front of the Tower of London! Waving in front of the Danube! So obviously the next place they would want to tick off waving in front of is… the Chernobyl nuclear power plant! And, in keeping with all movies of other people’s holidays, it’s really boring.
From the studio that dripped blood come the bandages to mop it up. Following the far more Hollywood inflected The Mummy (1959), Hammer’s second foray into Egyptian mythology remains a thrillingly gruesome and enjoyable slasher-romp. Never as diabolically dark as The Devil Rides Out (1968) and relatively restrained in comparison with the head-lopping frenzy of Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), John Gilling’s The Mummy’s Shroud finds its own niche to furrow. With an ensemble cast waiting in the wings for their inevitable bandage fuelled demise, ingenious deaths and splatters of gore remain the order of the day in 1920s Egypt.