All the stuff I can’t manage to pigeonhole.

Fear not, bad movie brothers and sisters, despite the spammy title of this post your favourite movie blog has not been compromised by Russian bots or North Korean cyber hackers! I was going to title it ‘Free Sex’, but that was swiftly vetoed by the lady of the house as being far too clickbaity, and on reflection my fairer half proved to be right (a habit of hers).

With any luck I have your attention now, so I’d like to ask you all a favour – one of my objectives for the blog this year is to get more content uploaded more regularly, and in common with most bloggers I’d like to get The Stricken Land more exposure out there on the ol’ information super highway. With this in mind I’d greatly appreciate any of you peoples sharing, liking, tweeting, or using whatever media is your thing to spread the word about the blog and any content you read on it that particularly takes your fancy. Comments and reviews on the blog itself, at the Facebook page or on any of the other platforms where the blog has a presence are also gratefully received.

With that out of the way, the next post that will drop into your inboxes will be a review of the latest feature film offering from Netflix, the buddy cop action fantasy Bright.

Watch the Skies and Spread the Word!

Semper fi

Hail there bad movie brethren! Here’s hoping that you are all feeling hail and hearty in this post yuletide period, and looking forwards to the celluloid delights that 2018 will surely bring us?

Your erstwhile host has been busy scribbling away over the last month planning a number of blog posts to fill your inboxes with writings on grindhouse movie goodness and other assorted bottom shelf gems I’ve come across on Netflix and Amazon. Here is what’s on the menu so far:

  • Review /retrospectives of Blastfighter, Lamberto Bava’s 80’s spaghetti exploitation action flick, the legendary Bronx Warriors movies from the titan of Italian action, Enzo G Castellari, and Sergio Martino’s sublime 1983 post apocalypse flick 2019: After the Fall of New York.
  • The VHS Apocalypse – a look back at the spate of Italian made post apocalypse movies of the early 80’s that were rushed out to cash in on the popularity of dystopian action hits like Mad Max and Escape from New York.
  • Rating the Wrong Turn’s – a full run down and review of each of the cannibal hillbilly horror flicks, low budget splatter favourites of mine!
  • Top Ten horror films – my personal all time favourites, and why you should love them too.
  • A review of Russian superhero ensemble movie Guardians. I’ve been saving up this viewing pleasure, what’s the worst that could happen?
  • Rating the Fridays – my ultra opinionated take on what counts as Friday the 13th canon, including my review if the excellent fan film Never Hike Alone, along with my thoughts on where to take the series from here.
  • Shark movie triple whammy – none of that Sharknado nonsense, but reviews of the two latest shark movies to catch my attention; Cage Dive and 47 Metres Down, along with a look a back at the 2003 Lou Diamond Phillips bull shark in the bayou potboiler Red Water.
  • Podcast Heaven – I’ve really got into my podcasts this year, so I’ll be putting together a post reviewing and rating the best movie related shows that I’ve come across so far.

Next up will be my review of a little known arthouse movie called The Last Jedi. It seems to have divided opinion somewhat, so keep any eye out for this blog’s judgement landing in your inbox soon.

Until then, I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year!

Semper fi.

The occasion of All Hallows’ Eve saw yours truly sifting through the Amazon and Netflix listings for some macabre themed entertainment to wile away the evening, once the local gangs of trick or treaters had been bought off by with the stack of Haribo bought in for the occasion. Never get high on your own supply and all that.

With the pizza ordered and the evening stretching before me, it seemed rude not to have a double bill. First up was 1922, a recommendation thrown up by Netflix. Based on a Stephen King story from his anthology Full Dark, No Stars, it stars an unrecognisable Thomas Jane as Wilfred James, a down at heel farmer who plots to kill his wife Arlette over her wish to sell land that she has inherited and move to the city taking their son Henry with her.

Wilfred manipulates Henry into helping commit the murder using the boy’s budding romance with their neighbours daughter as a bargaining chip.

After almost bungling the killing, the pair hide Arlette’s body in the farm’s well, but this being a King adaptation, things begin to go south very quickly for Wilf and Henry from here on in.

At its heart, 1922 is an old fashioned morality tale, but although the protagonists end is never in doubt, there is enough narrative skill employed to keep the viewer hooked on what their ultimate fate might actually be.

Next I flipped to Amazon for Orphan, a glossy Hollywood evil kid/family in peril bit of highly polished schlock. I confess to having had half an eye on this one for a while, being a big fan of the evil child horror sub genre ever since scaring myself witless watching The Omen (1976) as a kid.

Scream Queen Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring fame takes the lead as Kate, a recovering alcoholic traumatised by the stillbirth of their third child. Deciding to adopt, Kate and hubby John come across mysterious 9 year old Russian girl Esther at the local orphanage. Soon enough, bad things begin to happen around Esther, and the demands of the plot see that John, a successful self made architect, sees fit to suspend his critical faculties with regards to his newly adopted daughter.

Orphan is trash, but it’s well made trash, with a decent cast and production values and a stand out performance from Isabelle Fuhrmann as the malevolent Esther. A decent twist too. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of psycho kid films.

As I’m sitting here spilling metaphorical keyboard ink, the joyous memory of the 80’s straight to video heavy metal horror classic Trick or Treat has popped into my head and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it on Halloween itself. Better late than never, I shall scrape the Amazon barrel tonight, and get some kind of retrospective/review put on the blog. Watch this space.

My friend and colleague Alan Bligh passed away on Friday 26th May.

Obviously it is difficult to sit here and write these words, trying to marshal my thoughts as a blank screen stares back at me, willing me to type something, anything. It seems appropriate to begin when I first became acquainted with Alan, which as a lot of my friendships have done, came through my employment at Games Workshop.

In the summer of 2010 I began working as a Graphic Designer in Forge World, where the Dark Lord, as he was affectionately known from time to time, served as the lead writer on the Imperial Armour series of books. Being a tight knit team, I worked closely with him and struck up a rapport with him based on our mutual love of sci-fi/horror/fantasy b-movies, history, politics and general culture, both low, high and pop. In fact there was barely a rare factoid or piece of useless, but always interesting trivia that Alan couldn’t summon up from his vast well of esoteric knowledge.

We discovered that we both shared a great fondness for Nottingham’s Broadway arts cinema, due to its habit of occasionally showing our favourite genre pictures and hosting the annual Mayhem horror film festival, the various offerings of which spurred on several reviews on this very blog.

Alan was a man big in both spirit and generosity as well as intellect. He was always ready to give his time, his talent and his thoughts to anyone who had need of them whether in the office or outside of it. Our many long chats over countless cups of tea (always tea!) about films, literature and toy soldiers provided the major inspiration and impetus for me to start this blog, so in a small way I hope that its existence serves as a tribute to him.

There have already been several heartfelt, and doubtless more eloquent eulogies to Alan’s memory than what I have put down here, written by those who were closer to him than I. In particular those published on the blogs of messrs John French and Aaron Dembski-Bowden, both very close friends to Alan, give a true measure of his character in a way that my humble prose can in no way hope to evoke.

His passing leaves a gaping hole, not only in the lives of his family and friends, but also in the Games Workshop hobby that he loved so much, and the invaluable contribution that he made to its fictional lore through his prose.

For those who knew Alan well, and those who enjoyed only a cursory acquaintance with him, down to those countless individuals across the world who never had to chance to meet Alan, but continue to be immersed and fascinated by the work that he has left behind, the news of his passing has been met with obvious shock, sadness, but also many beautiful words. Which is more than fitting for a man who loved the written word so much.

I miss you already my friend.

Rest easy.

That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?’

With those words Bill Paxton seared himself into the collective consciousness of geekdom. His performance of the frit marine Hudson in James Cameron’s classic Aliens (1986) is full of endlessly quotable lines, much of it ad-libbed by the actor himself if Hollywood legend is to be believed.

I’m obviously writing this in the sad knowledge of Bill Paxton’s passing on Saturday at the far too young age of 61. To the children of the VHS generation he’ll be forever remembered as the aforementioned Hudson, as well as in roles in other iconic films of the era such as Kathryn Bigelow’s wonderfully downbeat vampire noir Near Dark (1987), as the sociopathic Severen, and the histrionic Predator sequel, as the wisecracking Detective Jerry Lambert.

For my money though, Paxton’s finest hour is in his criminally underrated directorial debut Frailty (2001), where he also stars as the widower dad of two young boys who may or may not have been tasked by ‘angels’ to slay ‘demons’ that, of course, only he can see. Well worth checking out as part of the Bill Paxton tribute filmathon that I’m sure many of you are planning, that’s if you haven’t done so already of course?

So long Mr Paxton, and thanks for all the movies. You will be missed.