Tag Archives: Horror Express

A Week In Film #138: Old favourites & new finds

1971
So, this is a Hindi film about the aftermath of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, directed and co-written by Amrit Sagar. It’s about an interesting subject, it starts off very well, but it lost my attention by the second half.

Basically – you learn something new every day – it turns out that the 1971 war caused a bit of an MIA scandal in India, because Pakistan held onto loads of Indian POWs long after the end of the war (in which Pakistan got caned – this is the one that led to East Pakistan splitting off as sovereign Bangladesh).

The film starts in 1977, at a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Pakistan, when we’re introduced to a bunch of bedraggled Indian soldiers and airmen who are being delivered there. Why, six years into their captivity, they are being moved to this remote camp, is made clear soon enough, and that leads us into an escape plan. So far so good – the trouble is once we’re outside the camp it all falls apart, with lots of action set pieces that drag on and on and on, and plot twists that don’t go anywhere, and a narrative that just rusts up. Plus there aren’t any songs in the second half – big mistake. Plus side: Deepak Dobriyal and Manav Kaul have some good back-and-forth as a pair of cheeky aviators.

Frenzy
Hitchcock’s return to the UK was a dirty, sleazy sex crime thriller – not his finest work, but still very powerful, thanks to some bravura moments, interesting characters and a taut little plot. Jon Finch, Barry Foster, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Clive Swift, a sweaty Bernard Cribbins… Even if it’s not Hitch at his peak, he still puts together a good spread. Great ending too.

Dirty Deeds
Breezy period comedy gangster flick set in 60s Australia, with slot king Bryan Brown having to fend off local rivals and now the American mob, all wanting to muscle in on his rackets. Toni Collette, Sam Neill, Sam Worthington and John Goodman round off the cast.

Horror Express
Who could not warm to a horror film about a prehistoric beast loose aboard the Trans-Siberian Express in pre-Revolutionary Russia, with only rival anthropologists Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and a bloodthirsty Cossack Captain (Telly Savalas) standing in its way? Well, my LLF for one.

Blood Diamond
Another overwrought Edward Zwick picture about ‘others’, this time set in Sierra Leone during the civil war years of the late 1990s, with rebels, government troops and mercenaries all haring around trying to control diamond fields. Journalist Jennifer Connelly convinces loveable Rhodesian soldier-for-hire Leonardo Di Caprio to help her find out about the blood diamond trade, all whilst local fisherman Djimon Hounsou is enslaved, escapes, is imprisoned, then released whilst searching for his family. Cloying, artificial tosh, but professionally assembled. Just very distasteful.

Perrier’s Bounty
I really liked this silly Irish comedy crime drama. Michael (Cillian Murphy) owes money to local gangster Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson); if he doesn’t pay up bones will be broken. Meanwhile his neighbour Bren (Jodie Whittaker) is having relationship woes, and his estranged dad Jim (Jim Broadbent) has turned up, telling him he is dying. Written by Mark O’Rowe (who also did Intermission and TV movie Boy A), and directed with fizz by Ian Fitzgibbon.

Boiler Room
Ben Younger’s film about a ‘chop shop’ – an underground brokerage company where dubious high-pressure telemarketing techniques are the norm in selling junk stock to low level investors – is nothing special, but it is engaging enough. Clearly it owes a debt to both Glengarry Glen Ross and Wall Street, but both are acknowledged onscreen – very meta. Giovanni Ribisi is the ingenue caught up in the excitement, Nicky Katt and Vin Diesel are his Barnes/Elias-style mentors, Nia Long his love interest, Jamie Kennedy and Scott Caan the light relief, and Ben Affleck is on hamming-it-up duties.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story Of Ozploitation!
I first heard of this when I came across a list on IMDb, shaun_d_000‘s Best Australian films in rough order (which I heartily recommend flicking through for inspiration).

It’s a lovely little documentary by Mark Hartley about the rebirth of the Australian film industry, focusing on the genre and exploitation movies created Down Under in the 70s and 80s, with dozens of contributors – writers, directors, producers, actors, stuntmen and fans (including Quentin Tarantino) – offering up juicy insights and anecdotes. The DVD extras are great too.