“The last winter” – (2006, USA/Iceland, 101 minutes – NR)

Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman) has a tough job: he flies back to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska from the US on a mission. The small party he has waiting for him at their base camp will be tasked with laying the ground work for a new pipeline.

Ron Perlman as Ed Pollack

Matters are complicated by the presence of James Hoffman (James LeGros), a concession from the oil company KIK to political interests and environmentalists.

James LeGros as James Hoffman is watching the skies

Hoffman has observed and documented fluctuating temperatures preventing any notion of building a road as the ground would be too soft, and has a theory about strange behavior and visions affecting group members: Hoffman believes that climate change causes sour gas, a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen sulfide, to seep from the ground.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “Evil Aliens”, bloody close encounters

“Evil Aliens” – (2005, UK, 93 minutes – rated R)

On an island off the coast of Wales, Cat Williams (Jennifer Evans) and her boyfriend are making sexy times in a field when they are abducted by aliens. On the aliens’ ship, the boyfriend gets a most gruesome anal drilling before getting killed, while Cat is implanted with a baby alien and released.
To put it in perspective, Eric Cartman had it real easy by comparison.

Watch the trailer here:


A week later, tabloid TV reporter Michelle Fox (Emily Booth) sells her editor on the idea of doing a report on Cat’s story for Weird Worlde, their “reality” show investigating yetis, aliens and other tabloid fodder.

Michelle Fox and Jack Campbell

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Midnight Movie Madness: “isolation” or why every farm should have a cat

“Isolation” – (2005, UK/Ireland, 95 minutes – NR)

Irish farmer Dan Reilly (John Lynch) has fallen on hard times and agreed to let an obscure biotech concern conduct fertility experiments on his cows.
The idea is to speed up the maturation process while simultaneously increasing the animals’ fertility. The research is conducted by a non-too-friendly scientist named John (Marcel Iures), assisted by local vet Orla (Essie Davis).

Marcel Iures as “John”

Dan, the farmer, doesn’t quite understand the science behind the program and probably wouldn’t care if he actually saw the money he was promised. But both he and the vet, Orla, have yet to see some dough.

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Heroes and villains, super and not but funny all the same…

In Marvel’s “Captain America: the first avenger” released this July, Steve Rogers is a weakling who never gives up his dream of joining the Army and go fight Nazis, despite the bullying and poor medical reviews. His character’s trajectory is pretty much told in the trailer: Rogers volunteers for a secret Army program to enhance his strength and reflexes by placing him in a waffle-maker and bombarding him with rays.

Watch Captain America’s trailer here:


Voila, instant super-soldier, ready to kick nemesis Red Skull und his minions in the keister.
A little over 40 years ago, another super hero was making less waves, off screen at least. Written and directed by American expat William Klein, “Mr. Freedom” is an interesting satire and counter-point to “Captain America”, which Klein made in his adopted country of France.
Uh-oh, you’re already sensing where this is going…

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Midnight Movie Madness: bleak future and killer bots

“Screamers” – (1995, USA/Canada/Japan, 108 minutes – rated R)

On a mining colony called Sirius 6B in the late 21st century, the survivors of two warring factions may have to join forces to survive a new threat: self-replicating weapons evolving of their own accord since being “fielded” by one side. “Screamers” are scavenging robots produced in underground factories for the alliance, burrowing just below the surface until they launch themselves at their prey, their razor sharp blades whirring at a painfully high pitch sounding like a scream. Scary and gory stuff.

Watch the trailer here:


They then slice their target to pieces and drag the gruesome remains below ground.

Variety one

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Midnight Movie Madness: “Phase IV”

“Phase IV” – (1974, USA, 93 minutes – rated PG)

The DVD version of Saul Bass’ only feature length film is missing 9 minutes, cut by producers. The cuts were mostly at the end of the movie, surreal images and sequences they probably figured would turn audiences off.
And perhaps they were right, although in the end “Phase IV” was not a commercial success and as a result, Bass did not make another feature film.

Some of these images can be seen in the trailer below:


Phase IV” belongs to a certain pantheon of sci-fi and horror films, films which some would qualify as visionary, cerebral and other adjectives reserved for “2001: a space odyssey”, “Farenheit 451”, “Solaris” and “THX 1138” to name a few.
Not all of “Phase IV” is satisfying or even readily attainable, in other words. What it has are some of the most chilling images and sequences and a script which takes the audience seriously: contrary to much of the poster art, “Phase IV” is no exploitation movie.

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“Thesis” – (1996, Spain, 125 Minutes – rated R)

I am working my way back to director/writer Alejandro Amenabar’s earlier works, and “Thesis” is his feature debut. I first became aware of Amenabar with “the sea inside” and a bit later with “the others” (2004 and 2001, respectively), and have been amazed by his storytelling talent as a film maker.
Here we have a rare combination of entertainment, great writing and original thinking. Much like with Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan, I now know going in that whatever film bearing his name will be interesting to say the least.

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Midnight Movie Madness: tentacle difficulties and uncivil serpents

This week, two films which can be broadly characterized as creature features: Mystery Science Theater 3000’s skewering of Lamberto Bava’s “Devil Fish” and Larry Cohen’s “Q: the winged serpent”.
Bava’s “Devil Fish” was ‘remade’ in 2010 for the SyFy channel as “Sharktopus”.
Interestingly, many elements of “Q: the winged serpent” were ‘borrowed’ in 1998’s “Godzilla” as well, but not credited to Cohen…
Doing a review of an MST3K is like reviewing a review, in a way, but “Devil Fish” is so bad that this “commented” version made it much, much more palatable.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “Squirm”

“Squirm” – (1976, USA, 92 minutes – VHS rated PG; DVD rated R)

From the ‘70s, we have in “squirm” yet another “nature strikes back” offering, although this one doesn’t preach, it entertains.
During a severe storm, power lines are downed near the small Georgia town of Fly Creek. As a result of live wires sweeping across the mud, bloodworms crawl out at night to devour the unsuspecting inhabitants of the county.

Watch the trailer here:

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