Buried, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil and Shock Labyrinth released on DVD
Horror DVD round-up
Over the years, some of the greatest horror films have found love and longevity among the classics of the genre despite their direct-to-video origins. Unfortunately that’s not always the case, as The Open Door (Second Sight) ● proves. Taking the vague premise of The Ring, but with it’s a pirate radio call-in show instead of a videotape, it's about 50 times more boring than that description would have you believe. Amateur in every way - from the lighting and sets to the ‘acting’ - it takes ages before any action kicks in. Then, once Catherine Georges calls the station, random ‘spooky things’ start happening. Until it ends. Boring with a depressing lack on innovation or dynamics.
While nowhere near as scary as his classic J-horror fright-fest Ju On: The Grudge, Takashi Shimizu’s Shock Labyrinth 3D (Chelsea Films) ●●● is a serviceable ghost story set in a haunted hospital. The looping storyline does get a bit repetitive, but is also essential to a plot that throws up some intriguing multiple overlapping time frames.
Brain Dead (Isis) ●● is just what you’d expect from a cheap space-zombie romp, maximum gore minimal plot but stupid fun all rolled into one brain munching package. 80s horror geeks will get a kick out of the release of the tenth entry in the living puppets franchise, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (Revolver Entertainment) ●●, is as daft as ever (the Puppets are called into action to stop the Nazis in WWII-era California) but falling budgets mean while this isn’t the worst entry in the series it’s far from the best. Basically too much talk not enough action.
Cannibal Girls (Nucleus Films) ●●● is a bizarre early (1973) film from Ivan Reitman (who would go on to direct Meatballs, Ghost Busters and Twins) staring an unrecognisably young and hirsute Eugene Levy. The title gives away most of the plot as Levy and Andrea Martin stop off at a small town only to run into the titular flesh eaters, unfortunately not as funny as you’d hope, but it’s hard not to find some love for a film with a Warning Bell: ‘when it rings close your eyes if you’re squeamish’. Another film where the title sums up the plot, Alien vs Ninja (Revolver Entertainment) ●●● is enjoyably bonkers Japanese kung-fu sci-fi fare, after a slow start it just gets sillier, gorier and funnier as the film progresses.
And finally, in Buried (Icon) ●●●● (which actually got a cinema release) Ryan Reynolds wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin in the Iraqi desert with time and air running out fast. It’s a fantastic performance from Reynolds who holds your attention for the entire run time with essentially a solo acting turn (other characters only crop up on his mobile phone). An impressive lesson in sustained cinematic tension.