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 EARTHRISE

•             RELEASE DATE: Available April 19th on DVD
•             WRITTEN BY: Glenn Payne
•             DIRECTED BY: Glenn Payne
•             STARRING: Todd Barnett, Meaghin Burke, Jennifer Hamilton Collins

Here comes a new psychological thriller — my least favorite horror subgenre (one of them, anyway)! Let’s see if the sci-fi elements promised by the flick at hand, EARTHRISE, are enough to keep me entertained (hell, I’d settle for “keep me awake”).

In the future, 99% of the Earth’s population has been sent to Mars because we have F’d up terra firma six ways to Sunday. Well, it’s about time to rehabilitate the ol’ blue marble, so a company called Revive begins sending folks back to complete the task. EARTHRISE follows three such individuals on their journey back; a journey that sees them begin to mentally sh—house (that’s the actual medical term; look it up!), and suffer hallucinations.

I’m not going to mince words with you lot: EARTHRISE is a low-budget film with all the hugs and kisses that can bring… limited sets, lots of talk, talk, talk, and a small cast. But you know what, this flick really makes that work! The sets are tight and claustrophobic, the actors are really strong, and all that gab is actually interesting! There are negatives, however; the pace gets rather slow at times, some story points are brought up and never mentioned again, and that ending… well, let’s just say that they could have done a lil’ more in that department.

All in all, I can see what the makers of this flick were trying to accomplish — a relatively dour examination of the fragility of the human mind in the endless nothing of space — and for the most part they hit the mark in a moderately successful fashion. I’d say give it a view if you are into flicks like SILENT RUNNING or (in a lighter vein) Carpenter’s DARK STAR. Before I end this, I do have to lay this one on you: in one glorious scene roughly ¾ of the way through, there is a giant spider. Yeah.

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THE DAMNED: DON’T YOU WISH THAT WE WERE DEAD

•             RELEASE DATE: Available May 20th on Blu-ray/DVD
•             WRITTEN BY: Wes Orshoski
•             DIRECTED BY: Wes Orshoski
•             STARRING: Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Brian James

From the man wot brought us the doc LEMMY (I’ll let you super-sleuths solve the mystery of what that film was about) comes a new warts n’ all look at punk rock (later goth) pioneers The Damned, titled THE DAMNED: DON’T YOU WISH THAT WE WERE DEAD (for those among you that couldn’t bring themselves to read the title of this review).

Telling the story of The Damned is akin to listening to Don Adams repeat his “Missed it by that much” catch phrase from Get Smart — the band basically started the punk movement, were the first band in the genre to have an album and tour the US, but are the only major act from the scene not to be a household name. Why? I have no idea. As illustrated by the film, they certainly were worlds above most punk acts at the time in terms of vocal ability and musicianship. Perhaps it was their theatricality and zaniness, or the fact that they weren’t overtly political like most punkers. Either way, the film examines this issue from all angles, and it is a fascinating journey filled with the most eccentric musicians you are likely to ever encounter (hell, they barely know what makes each other tick, and some of them have been playing together for nigh on forty years). On the other hand, they are still kickin’, which is more than you can say for some of their peers.

Another road travelled by the doc examines the constant in-fighting, grudges, and just plain bad blood that have existed within the group nearly from the beginning, with constant line-up changes and some members of the band not on speaking terms for decades. And while they may say the battles are inconsequential, the feelings they display in the interviews screams otherwise.

Filmed scattershot with a chronology that’s every bit as all over the place as the group it chronicles, DON’T YOU WISH THAT WE WERE DEAD is a damn near perfect rock doc. It’s brash, it holds absolutely nothing back, and is thoroughly entertaining all while painting a complete history of the band (with tons of great archival footage) and the age in which they were created all the way to today and their current tours and line-up. A must see, not only for fans of The Damned, but also for those that love rooting for the underdog… and those that are curious where Johnny Depp got that SWEENEY TODD hair from.

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