Escape From New York

Escape From New York (1981)

Escape From New York first published by Little White Lies, as the 70th instalment of my Cinema Psychotronicum column In the mid-1970s, when John Carpenter wrote Escape From New York in response to the Watergate scandal, 1997 was a distant – but not too distant – future in which all manner of contemporary concerns could…

Mute

Mute (2018)

Mute first published by VODzilla.co Mute is set in the same universe as Duncan Jones’ feature debut Moon (2009), and its events take place shortly after that film’s events. We know this, because Moon‘s protagonist Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), now returned to Earth, is seen on television sets and moving posters in the background of Mute,…

Drive

Dead End Drive-In (1986)

Dead End Drive-In first published by Sight & Sound “Subtlety is maybe not my middle name,” admits director Brian Trenchard-Smith in his commentary on Dead End Drive-In, a Sydney-set punkish dystopia apparently unfolding in the apocalyptic interregnum between George Miller’s Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max 2 (1981), and freely ripping off both of them. Amid…

Turkey

Turkey Shoot (1982)

Turkey Shoot first published by VODzilla.co There is a thrill in the human hunt. This was established by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s pre-Code The Most Dangerous Game (1932), whose title puns on different meanings of ‘game’ as a hunter tracks members of his own species for sport. In 1971 Peter Watkins took this premise…

Transmission

Transmission (2017)

In keeping with its title, Transmission opens with a televisual nightmare: a disturbingly hypermanic barrage of images on a flickering screen, as though channels were being surfed by a madman. That television sits in an arched cellar, where Johann Strauss Sr’s Radetzky March pours its incongruously upbeat notes from two speakers. This bricked bunker has been…

Antiviral

Antiviral (2012)

Anitiviral first published by Sight & Sound Review: “She’s perfect somehow,” says Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), selling a dream to his rapt customer – and like the best salesmen, Syd believes his own pitch, even if that modifier “somehow” allows for certain flaws. With his designer suit and scarf, his slicked back hair and his…

Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

First published by Little White Lies In a bed, in a concrete room, a short-haired girl counts aloud, at a carefully measured pace. At 44 precisely, the lights outside come on, and she half-straps herself into a modified wheelchair. She greets cheerily by name the two soldiers, armed, alert and aggressive, who open the door…

Election

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

The Purge: Election Year first published by Little White Lies In 2013, writer/director James DeMonaco unleashed The Purge, wherein for one night a year, all crimes (including murder) go unpunished. This killer premise made much satirical play, at least initially, of the vast gulf between America’s over-entitled haves and victimised have-nots, but was confined to, and…

Jackrabbit

Jackrabbit (2015)

First published by VODzilla.co “You two seem like an unlikely pair. How did you meet?”, asks Grace (Joslyn Jensen). Simon (Josh Caras) and Max (Ian Christopher Noel) do indeed make an odd couple – the former with his conservative haircut, his collared shirt and tie, his clean-shaven cheeks, and his aspiration to be very much…

High-Rise (2015)

First published (in a shorter version) by Little White Lies “Sometimes he found it difficult to believe in a future that had not already taken place.” In Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, this line appears as a prefatory voice-over from protagonist Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston), who, three months after he has moved into the titular tower block,…

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

First published by Daily Info Well, he did say he’d be back. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the rôle for which he was born – a soulless, emotion-free cyborg who spouts one-liners in a wooden monotone. Sarah Connor, the protagonist of the first two films, has died of leukaemia,…