Here we are again, plundering the riches of Netflix’s catalogue of films, but did we dig a little deep, finding shadow and flame? Well we didn’t quite wake the Balrog, but we got damn near close to something just as terrifying.
Hell and Back (Dir. Tom Gianas & Ross Shuman, 2015)
At a failing seaside theme park where they work, three childhood friends discover a satanic book and foolishly make a blood oath regarding a mint. When the oath is broken, one of the trio is transported to hell for his actions whilst the other two quickly follow to rescue their friend from a horrible demise.
I love stop motion animation, it’s a deep rooted love from being fed a diet of Ray Harryhausen work such as Clash of the Titans, and The Valley of Gwangi etc as a child. So when I came across this ‘comedy’ with this type of effects I thought I found myself a little gem. Oh how I was wrong. Despite some interesting aesthetics, Hell and Back is one of the flattest comedies I’ve ever seen. Chock full of tasteless humour, primarily about sex or rape, it struggles to remain interesting and is never funny. It’s a real shame considering it boasts a voice cast that includes Rob Riggle, T.J. Miller, Nick Swardson, and Bob Odenkirk. Animated films for adults is a genre that works wonders when done right, unfortunately everything about this is just wrong.
Last Vegas (Dir. Jon Turteltaub, 2013)
A group of friends in their twilight years reunite to throw their last single friend a bachelor party, before he gets married to a woman half his age. As the group come together old issues resurface, and problems arise as they come to terms with the current state of their lives an what they’ve done in the past.
Jon Turteltaub has directed some very fun films, Cool Runnings and National Treasure are chief examples of this, and with a legendary cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, and Robert De Niro you might think your in for a blast. The truth is it’s very middle of the road. The comedy is light, but the tone doesn’t fit the scene at times and it becomes a little jarring. Though there is a solid heart at the centre of the film, especially surrounding the brooding issues between Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas’s characters and former flames and it makes the film an easier watch. That being said as a straight up comedy it doesn’t work, but as light entertainment it does the job pretty well. But in all honesty I was expecting a little more.
He Never Died (Dir. Jason Krawczyk, 2015)
Jack (Henry Rollins) is a loner, he keeps to himself and his business, living in his own self contained bubble. However after an unexpected appearance from an estranged daughter events begin to take a turn for the worse, Jack’s strict and established routine is disturbed, and it leads him to engage in old activities he tried to keep away from. Then when his daughter is kidnapped it’s the straw that breaks the camels back as he returns to an old way of life to get her back.
He Never Died is the type of film that Netflix is perfect for, the mysterious title you’ve never heard of, but recognise the cast. An intriguing synopsis with a cool looking poster, all you need to do is take the risk and give it a go. Sometimes the risk pays off massively with hidden treasures you would never have seen at the local multiplex. And then there are times it where you realise why it went straight to on demand, and you punish yourself for making such a silly choice. He Never Died is closer to the hidden treasure than the silly choice, but it is very much an acquired taste. A Canadian horror/comedy/thriller/crime film, it’s a unique blend of many genres with offbeat humour and a well delivered central performance fro, Henry Rollins. The less I say about the film, the better. If your looking for something different, and unusual than look no further.
Humanoids from the Deep (Dir. Barbara Peeters, 1980)
A scientific experiment goes wrong (when does it not?) and humanoid fish monsters wreak havoc on a small fishing town. The local salmon disappears and young people begin to disappear, as the newly discovered monsters start targeting nubile young women for mating. Don’t believe me? Just read that god awful tagline.
Yep, that’s right I got greedy and dug a little too deeply, found the flame and shadow and regretted it, sort of…
Also known as Monster and starring Doug McClure (half of the inspiration for the great Troy McClure) Humanoids from the Deep is the B-movie personified. Rubber fish suits, cheeky breast shots, dodgy acting, and some bad, bad story make this a hallmark of the so bad it’s good genre. The final scene itself, a terrible homage to a classic film, is worth the 75 minutes it takes to get there. I honestly couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry watching it, but unsurprisingly I’ve seen worse. By no means is this a good film, but if you grab some friends, get intoxicated and have a laugh you’ll wonder why it took so long to see it. Then again, you could see it for the steamy Cleveland steamer that it is. At the end of the day your enjoyment depends on how high your tolerance levels are on the sh*t film scale. Mine? They’re pretty high.
So there we have it, another adventure into the realm of Netflix. Does anything tickle your fancy? Or have you also inexplicably subjected yourself to the Humanoids from the Deep? Let us know how you get on in your own Netflix adventures.