Wednesday, 10 July 2013

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads..."

July 2013 will see the end of regular activity here at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. In all honesty, I envisioned activity here continuing for a lot longer than the eighteen months or so this blog has been running. So, why are things set to end? Well, thankfully the reasons are all positive.

Recently I received an invitation from Sam Turner, founder and editor of Film Intel, to join him at his site as a regular contributor. Film Intel has been running for much longer than SLIHF - around five years or so - and in that time Sam has managed to develop its content and design as well as garnering a substantial regular readership. Whilst I've always been proud and pleased to have my writing at SLIHF read by even one person, the opportunity to write for a more established film site and larger audience was not something I was going to pass up.

As the writing I will be contributing to Film Intel will be the same as the kind of articles I write here, there really isn't any reason to continue adding regular new content at SLIHF. For the foreseeable future at least, the existing content will remain here for visitors to continue to read and comment upon. It's also possible that every so often I may write something here, but any new posts will be sporadic and infrequent.

This hasn't been a solo decision. My (almost) silent partner here, TheTelf, who has contributed a handful of articles and comments here since SLIHF's inception, has also agreed on this course of action being the best with his opportunities for regular blogging unlikely to improve any time soon.

My deepest and most heartfelt thanks to everyone and anyone who has read a review or an article here at Some Like It Hot Fuzz over the last eighteen months. Thank you to everyone who has liked us on Facebook, followed us on Twitter or left a comment here on the blog itself. Without people reading everything I've written here, there would be very little point in me doing it.

All that's left for me to say is please continue to follow my writing over at Film Intel. I already have one article published there - a review of Man Of Steel - and more will follow in the coming days, weeks and months. If you've not visited Film Intel before, check out Sam's back catalogue of reviews and articles too; his passion for cinema and skill as a writer consistently shine through.

Here's to the future.


"Shit just got real!"

Film Review | Evil Dead 3: Army Of Darkness (1992)

Following on almost exactly from where the closing moments of Evil Dead II left us, Sam Raimi's final film in his horror trilogy allowed the director to realise the vision he originally had for his first sequel but had been unable to bring about largely due to budget limitations. Evil Dead 3: Army Of Darkness is more commonly known simply as Army Of Darkness, arguably with good reason: in many ways this feels less like a continuation from the first two Evil Dead films and more like a fantasy vehicle for Bruce Campbell's Ash, a cult cinematic icon by this point in the franchise, to once again rev his chainsaw and fire his boomstick with aplomb.

Raimi shows he is unafraid to try out new ideas throughout Army Of Darkness, which is consistently admirable if not always successful. Tonally this sees an even greater shift into comedy than was seen between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Raimi's choice to transport the action to medieval England is a bold one considering the minimal cabin-in-the-woods setting of the first two entries in the trilogy. Coupled with the distinctly comedic tone throughout, Army Of Darkness at times feels reminiscent of Monty Python's big screen outings, which is never to the film's detriment but may disappoint fans of the out-and-out horror seen earlier in the franchise.

Both Campbell and Raimi clearly enjoy themselves bringing Ash to a wealth of new environments and characters, some of which work better than others. Ironically, the films strongest moments are those most redolent of the style and structure of Evil Dead II. A sequence which sees Ash isolated in an abandoned windmill is the strongest of the film, once again allowing Campbell to demonstrate his impressive aptitude for slapstick and visual humour. Raimi broadens his influence to include the likes of classic Tex Avery animation, as well as including his most overt homage to the work of Ray Harryhausen with the titular army largely made up of reanimated skeletons strongly evocative of Jason And The Argonauts.

Army Of Darkness' ambition also provides many of its shortcomings however. Other than Ash, the characters here receive the bare minimum of development needed to keep the story going, with most remaining largely one-dimensional. Whilst the first two films in the franchise could be criticised for not really having a story, Army Of Darkness certainly does its best to fix that, although Ash's quest through medieval England is unashamedly episodic and feels more like an excuse to link together a series of set pieces. The final battle between the living and "deadite" armies in all honesty feels overlong and a bit underwhelming.

Army Of Darkness ultimately never quite manages to reach the heights of the trilogy's strongest entry, Evil Dead II, feeling tamer in tone and more concerned with laughs than scares. But Raimi still manages to craft an imaginative, worthwhile and seriously enjoyable ending to his trilogy by playing to enough of his strengths, whilst having the courage to take the franchise into previously unexplored territory.


Monday, 1 July 2013

Film Review | Evil Dead II (1987)

Five years after giving the world the original Evil Dead, Sam Raimi returned to the franchise with a bigger budget and bigger ideas, many of which he wouldn't manage to realise until 1992's third installment, Army Of Darkness - the budget wasn't quite big enough to match the size of Raimi's imagination.

Evil Dead II sits - at times somewhat awkwardly - somewhere between a sequel and a remake, with the story of the first film retold here in condensed form within the first five minutes. A number of The Evil Dead's beats are also revisited throughout, which at times makes it tricky to place Evil Dead II in terms of its relationship with the first film. In contemporary cinematic terminology, this could even be considered as Raimi rebooting his own original film. It's a curiosity of Evil Dead II which is never conclusively resolved, but thankfully not to the film's detriment: those who have seen The Evil Dead can enjoy Raimi recreating familiar elements with more money to splash, whilst those who have not can enjoy this as a film which confidently stands alone.

Evil Dead II is also a refinement of what Raimi attempted in his first film, the director cherry-picking the strongest elements from his debut and fleshing them out. Everything that gave The Evil Dead its cult appeal  is cranked up several notches here. Where the first film's horror was overt, here the gore flies with wanton abandon, Raimi clearly having the time of his life soaking (literally) his actors in torrents of blood and slime. And whilst it can at times seem unclear why the original is classed as a horror-comedy, its humour occasionally so subtle as to pass under the radar, Evil Dead II never has this to worry about. Early scenes involving Ash (Bruce Campbell) battling his own demon-possessed hand are a complete riot, the film wearing on its sleeve strong influence from the work of Dick Van Dyke and - most of all - Raimi's comedy heroes, The Three Stooges.

Campbell from the word go is the beating heart of Evil Dead II, a whirlwind of B-movie energy and charm from his very first scene that only escalates as the body count and bloody torrents increase. Ash develops from unwilling hero to chainsaw-wielding dispatcher of the undead in glorious fashion, and come the end of the film the character's status as one of the all-time great horror heroes will be firmly ensconced in your mind.

Whilst there's a lot to like here, Evil Dead II does inherit some of the original's problems too. Plot is clearly not at the forefront of Raimi's mind, and whilst there's a little more of substance here than in The Evil Dead, anyone looking for carefully crafted, watertight plotting will likely come away disappointed. But taken for what it's meant to be - a horror film with its tongue regularly firmly in its cheek and made purely to entertain - Evil Dead II delivers in a hugely satisfying way. If The Evil Dead is cheesy, then this is the entire deli counter at Sainsbury's, and it's all the better for it.


By Ben Broadribb. Ben is now a regular contributor at Film Intel, having previously written here at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.