Film of the week: Drag Me To Hell
Channel 5, Sunday May 26, 9pm
Maybe it was a particularly harsh new batch of cocaine, or perhaps just contemporary screenwriters’ overwhelming sense of nihilism, but these days horror films are no longer simply about scaring the audience but instead demonstrations of the many ways it’s possible to eviscerate the human body.
Coming from the era of the video nasty, director Sam Raimi may well have faced similar accusations of damaging the nation’s moral fibre. But compare his Evil Dead of 1981 with this year’s remake: while the former’s splatter and gore has an almost mischievous slapstick quality, the latter just wants to make you sick.
Having left the horror behind him in 1992 after Army Of Darkness (the third in the Evil Dead trilogy) and achieving A-list success at the helm of the Spiderman films, it was a wonderful surprise when Raimi returned to the genre with 2009’s Drag Me To Hell. This time, however, he decided against the full-on blood and guts approach of his youth and came up with a more traditional tale of supernatural spookery.
Don’t for a minute let that deter you – with jumps that will literally throw you out of your seat, Drag Me To Hell is the most enjoyable rollercoaster ride of a movie. Imbuing just the right amount of camp, the film still has the knockabout fun that made Raimi’s early works so memorable you’ll be talking about it for days afterwards.
Without being totally spoilerific, nobody will forget the moment they simultaneously recoil in disgust and laugh with delight at one particularly ‘gummy’ scene.
Set the recorder for:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
ITV1, Friday May 24, 10:35pm
Right now the pairing of Robert Downey Jr. and director Shane Black is box office gold. Thanks to a razor-sharp script, Iron Man 3 has already made over $1bn and is on course to surpass The Avengers as the most successful comic movie of all time. Jump back ten years and both men were on the verge of career suicide, thanks (allegedly) to an inadvisable consumption of narcotics. Then came Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a witty take on the classic hardboiled detective genre complete with – you guessed it – a razor-sharp script. The two haven’t looked back since.
More4, Saturday May 25, 10pm
Following through the door that had been well and truly roundhouse kicked open by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero had a lot to live up by way of convincing a Western audience to go and see a subtitled Chinese martial arts epic in its droves.
Fortunately Hero had three aces up its sleeve: martial arts legend Jet Li (alongside Chinese cinema heavyweights like Tong Leung, Maggie Cheung and Zhang Ziyi), acclaimed director Zhang Yimou (mastermind of the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony) and visionary cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Hero is epic in every sense of the word.
The Man Who Fell To Earth
BBC2, Saturday May 24, 10:50pm
Having supplied one of the best-loved tracks on the soundtrack to London 2012 and then surprise almost everybody with new album release earlier this year, David Bowie is very much back at the top of the nation’s playlist. But while many are intimately familiar with the original Starman’s music, far fewer will be aware of his first starring role as a water-seeking alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth.
If that précised plot summary baffles you, the film itself won’t appear much clearer, directed as it is by Don’t Look Now’s Nicolas Roeg. But with a calm, meditative reflection on the modern world that puts it leagues above the bangsmashwallop of today’s mainstream cinema, The Man Who Fell To Earth is truly deserving of its cult status.