Archive for July, 2014

Peter Goldson is an FBI agent known as The Stabilizer, because, well, it sounds sorta cool. Don’t over-think it. When a brilliant scientist goes missing in Jakarta, Goldson suspects his arch-nemesis is responsible, so he gathers a team and sets about taking him down.

Made in Indonesia and distributed by the legendary “Troma Entertainment”, “The Stabiliser” is one of a series of trashy action knock-offs made by prolific mono-named hack Arizal. Essentially, this is his “James Bond” mixed with a bit of “Mission: Impossible”; a big dollop of nonsensical action cheese, carried out with startling incompetence.

In the title role is Peter O’Brian, a New Zealand born actor whose mere presence in a film is a guarantee of quality. Low quality. His hair is a magnificent artefact of the 80s, deserving of a place in a museum, while his performance here is stiff, wooden and full of bizarre poses; moments where he stops moving completely and seems to tense every muscle in his body for absolutely no reason. His New Zealand accent was probably not what Arizal wanted for his American super agent, so he is hilariously dubbed with a voice that would seem more at home in a toothpaste advert than an action movie.

O’Brian’s most famous role is his portrayal of the completely original and in no way copyright infringing character “Rambu” from “The Intruder”. Based on that, and the fact that here he adorns the walls of his house with posters of himself dressed up as Cobretti from “Cobra”, he is clearly supposed to have some kind of resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, although he looks far more like the illegitimate love-child of an unholy union between David Hasselhoff and a horse.

The main villain is the brilliantly named Rainmaker. Greg Rainmaker. Greg. Because there really are not enough super-villains called Greg. He is a drug-dealing, rapist murderer who has spikes on the bottom of his shoes and a pronounced limp. In a film with unquestionably the most heavy-handed audio effects ever loosely bolted onto moving pictures, the over-eager foley artists really went to town on the spikes and the limp, making any scene Rainmaker appears in an absolute hoot as he slowly “tap-pause-taps” across every room.

Seemingly filmed with no sound whatsoever, the dubbing is at once completely awful, and also strangely endearing. Bless ’em, they really did try to make the words fit the flapping lips and long pauses, leading to oddly broken up sentences and single word responses that make absolutely no sense. “Pause, Pause, Pause, BULLSHIT, Pause, Pause, Cut”.

This film has it all. Bad kung-fu. Messy gun-fights. Someone getting punched in the head by a motorbike. Incidental characters macking on live lizards before biting their heads off and eating them. Baggy leopard-print trousers. An Indonesian Mr T lookalike. A bad guy dying and leaving behind a piece of card with some squiggles and the words “Location Map” written on it. Goldson looking at that and saying “This might lead somewhere”. The word “bullshit”. Blue cans. More blue cans. Even more blue cans. Drink every time you see a blue can and your liver will pack up a bindle and hit the road long before the credits roll.

A film rammed with weirdness and ineptitude, coupled with gloriously excessive action and seemingly random explosions; “The Stabilizer” is an unmissable slice of 80s trash cinema, both hilariously bad and a hell of a lot of fun.

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Fossil (2014)

Posted: July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Carla Juri spielt die blutjunge französische Freundin des amerikanischen Tunichtguts «Richard», gespielt vom britischen Sschauspieler Grant Masters.

Paul and Camilla (John Sackville and Edith Bukovics) hire a gite in the south of France, seemingly in a last ditch attempt to rekindle a spark long since gone. Tensions build between the two until they find a mysterious couple (Grant Masters and Carla Juri) cavorting in their pool. 

“Fossil” is a British psycho-drama from fledgling production company Blackwall Films, written and directed by first timer Alex Walker. It is a credit to all involved how well executed everything is given the minuscule budget they had to play with.

The performances are strong, albeit in a way that reeks of British television drama from the 1980s. The couple at the film’s centre have the standard RP drama school accents, while the American and French characters are essentially timeless stereotypes, exemplars of British perception of those two races. Masters does pull off a respectable low-key Nicholson impression, something you sense was a great party trick that has now borne fruit; while Carla Juri is clearly a performer with a genuine flighty charm who we will likely be seeing a lot more of based on her promising turn here as the naive but deceptively deep Julie.

The film does have a lovely picturesque look, making good use of it’s Dordogne setting and contrasting it with the claustrophobic confines of the gite the couples are staying in. The intent was likely to blend the feel of French New-Wave cinema with traditional buttoned-down British drama, a combination that shouldn’t really work, but ultimately scrapes by due to the commitment of those involved.

For all the positives, it is incredibly hard to get away from how “middle-class” everything feels, essentially just the “first world problems” meme writ large. It is all so twee and quaint, you imagine it being cooked up over a glass of fine wine on a family holiday, such is it’s lack of edge.

As the film is primarily a drama, it is perhaps churlish to say that it takes a while to get going, as the long build-up is precisely the point. While the characters are believable, the dialogue between them lacks bite, something that makes it hard to care too much about their fates. While not every four-hander can be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, the interplay between the quartet really could have done with something to make it crackle.

The film is likely to be best remembered for a final third twist that is somewhat surprising, not for the explosion of violence that the film always threatened, but for the way in which it serves perfectly as an antidote to the majority of “home invasion” thrillers; a change of direction that is a pleasant surprise. However, it is all too neat and tidy in execution, squared away far too quickly and easily with scant regard for the possibilities the premise holds. For a film so rooted in relationships, it glosses over the shift in dynamic in surprisingly off-hand fashion, seeming to lose it’s focus as it attempts to quickly wrap everything up and stick a bow on it.

“Fossil” is a laudable attempt at a different kind of thriller, professionally executed in a manner that belies it’s incredibly tight budget. It is still relatively dull at times, lacking the zest and bite possessed by the best films of it’s ilk. While it may come a pleasant surprise if caught by accident late night on television, it is sadly not interesting enough to recommend actively seeking out.