Overlord (USA 2018) Dir: Julius Avery
Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the war and horror film genres should be natural bedfellows, and given that World War II is indelibly etched into both British and American popular culture it’s surprising that the many cross genre films that have been attempted have all been execrable dross (special mention for Michael Mann’s 1983 effort THE KEEP, but even that’s a very mixed bag.)

Step forward OVERLORD, the latest offering from JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot stable. The trailer promised much, with FURY levels of war violence mixed in with the Nazi super soldiers trope topped of with AC/DC on the soundtrack. Thankfully, director Julius Avery’s Ronseal approach to his film means we pretty much get what we were promised. The tight narrative sees gentle farm boy turned paratrooper Boyce (Adepo) and his comrades dropped into occupied France on the eve of D-Day to take out a German radio tower located in a nearby town.

They soon discover something very nefarious going on in the German base involving human experiments conducted by the sinister Dr Schmidt (Erich Redman) backed up by rent a villain Nazi Commandant Wagner (Asbæk).

OVERLORD knows that it’s b-movie schlock albeit backed with a decent budget and studio backed marketing, and it and wisely chooses to revels in the fact. With that in mind the script takes care to avoid any incongruous humour, and the cast play the whole thing straight. Thus  we avoid tipping into IRON SKY territory with proceedings kept just the right side of ludicrous, as Avery cranks the cartoonish level of violence all the way to eleven.

Unlike the current glut of spandex drenched bore-a-thons bunging up the multiplexes, OVERLORD doesn’t lose sight of the story it is telling and never feels like it has neglected its narrative in favour of spectacle. Sure, it may come in for criticism from some quarters for its theme of Nazi human experimentation, but these are Indiana Jones style comic book nazis, and while Avery’s film riffs off old school exploitation it never reaches ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS levels of bad taste either.

This is a solid action horror that, while containing no surprises, certainly won’t disappoint its intended audience either. And on the face of it who ever went to see an action-horror mash up featuring Nazi super soldiers expecting Shakespearean levels of character development?

Good morning film fiends! Buckle up for KING COHEN, the true story of writer, producer, director, creator and all-around maverick, Larry Cohen. Told through compelling live interviews, stills and film/TV clips, the people who helped fulfill his vision, including Larry himself, bring one-of-a-kind insight into the work, process and legacy of a true American film auteur. Few can boast of a career as remarkable or prolific, spanning more than 50 years of entertaining audiences worldwide.

The highly anticipated KING COHEN, the true story of writer, producer, director, creator and all-around maverick, Larry Cohen,  will receive a full theatrical run across the U.S – including Los Angeles and New York – beginning July 27 courtesy Dark Star Pictures.

Cohen, best known for resourceful low-budget horror and thriller films that combine social commentary with prerequisite scares and welcome humor, is responsible for celluloid classics including BLACK CAESAR, IT’S ALIVE, Q: THE WINGED SERPENT, and THE STUFF. He was also a major player in the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, as well as a prominent Hollywood screenwriter (PHONE BOOTH).

The acclaimed film features interviews with such industry luminaries as Martin Scorsese, J.J Abrams, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, John Landis, Fred Williamson as well as Cohen himself. Cohen’s remarkable one-of-a-kind career, from 60’s TV series creator (Branded, The Invaders), to 70’s and 80’s independent film icon and beyond, is chronicled with freewheeling and insightful verve.

Winner of the 2017 Fantasia Fest Best Documentary Feature Audience Award, KING COHEN hails from Rondo Award-winning writer/director Steve Mitchell, whose film and television credits include co-writing the beloved cult horror/comedy CHOPPING MALL. KING COHEN is a La-La Land Entertainment production, in association with Big And Tall Pictures and Off The Cliff Productions. It is directed and produced by Steve Mitchell and produced by Matt Verboys and Dan McKeon.

KING COHEN begins its theatrical run July 27 in markets including Los Angeles and New York. Special event screenings of the film will also be held throughout July and August in cities including Asheville, VA and Yonkers, NY. UK and European release dates to follow.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

 

Spread the Word!

Ian

Chopping Mall (USA 1986) Dir: Jim Wynorski

Kelli Maroney, Barbara Cranston, John Terlesky

Straight out of the Roger Corman film factory, this strange hybrid of the slasher horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres has a great idea at the centre of it, that of security robots running amok after hours in a giant shopping mall. Unfortunately the leaden script fails to capitalise on this great exploitation set up, instead presenting the audience with a deeply average, by the numbers horror devoid of any trace of wit or imagination to lift it above its many peers. Even b-movie stalwarts Barbara Crampton, Dick Miller and Paul Bartel can’t breathe life into what soon turns into an extended corridor chase with the identikit teens menaced by the one of the least terrifying protagonists in horror film history. The trailer however does have its charms (see below).

A remake of Chopping Mall has been slated, although no release date has been announced. Interestingly (or bizarrely depending on your point of view), the remake will not feature the killer robot element, instead going for a supernatural twist. Writer director Robert Hall explains:

“My version of CHOPPING MALL that I wrote is totally supernatural…It’s more The Fog set in an abandoned mall than it is robots. Instead of killer robots, they are these mannequins that are possessed by the souls of dead slaves that worked at the plantation that the mall was built over.”

The word around the campfire is that Corman himself has given his seal of approval to proceedings. Whatever the result, The Stricken Land will be sure to give you the lowdown. Watch this space.

Interesting facts:

  • The film was shot in the Sherman Oaks mall in California, the same mall used as a location in the Schwarznegger camp action classic Commando (1985).
  • Dick Miller was a regular in Roger Corman b-movies from the 1950’s onwards. He also starred as the gun shop owner killed by the eponymous killer cyborg in The Terminator (1984).
  • Director Wynorski and star John Terlesky teamed up again to make the far superior Deathstalker II (1987).