Review: Threads (1984, Mick Jackson)

"Threads", "The Day After", "The War Game"- these movies weren't some remote idea, or (just) a business decision. The Cold War had been on for decades, Russia and the USA had been racing to space, and competing for the biggest bomb ever, there was the Cuba crisis, SDI was a thing, Gorbachov, perestroika, and glasnost hadn't happened yet. Berlin was an island inside Russian territory. When "The Day After" was about to be shown in Germany some boulevard papers made it a frontpage headline. Chernobyl happened in 1986, and made people around the world remember the words Strontium, Caesium and Cadmium to their last day. That was the reality of the time. 

"Threads" is an educational movie, and it's made for exactly this purpose. In contrast to most other nuclear disaster movies, "Threads" puts its emphasis less on the short-term impact, but more on the personal catastrophe affecting every single one in the long term. Choosing a near-documentary style to do so, it quite soberly depicts the harrowing effects on human life as we know it. It could be me, you, anyone, it hits everywhere, and it will be passed on.

"Threads" is potentially the saddest and scariest film ever made. It's a British film, which means you'll be spared little. It goes a tad further and deeper than you might expect even from a film of that kind. "The Day After" ultimately tells a story, "The War Game" is a news report, "When The Wind Blows" speaks of love - "Threads" is most of all just brutally honest, as it puts pretty much nothing between you and the bitter, unrelenting truth. 

Overall, it's a very well made, extremely effective movie. The writing is intelligent and adequate to the subject matter, the editing and camera work is outstanding, the visuals range from accurate to genuinely shocking - it creates a scarily realistic picture of the unthinkable, and, much more than other such movies, its aftermath.

It is certainly no coincidence that around the time of "Threads" and "The Day After" worldwide anti-nuclear-weaponry demonstrations became massive (attendance up to 1 million), and nuclear disarmament started happening. People were really scared. The threat was all too real, and the insanity became undeniable.

Verdict: Watching "Threads" makes you a better human being. 10/10

Threads (1984)
Directed by Mick Jackson

Trailer video:


The War Game (1966)

World War III (1982) (NBC miniseries)

Testament (1983)

The Day After (1983)

On the 8th Day (1984)

Countdown To Looking Glass (1984)

When The Wind Blows (1986)

The Miracle Mile (1988)

Der Dritte Weltkrieg (1998)

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Review: Häxan (1922), "Witchcraft through the ages"

Swedish masterpiece "Häxan" takes you back to the age of witchcraft like no other movie does.

If there were a film documentary of the actual appearance of the devil, and what live witchcraft is, this is what it would look like. "Häxan" is Swedish for "witch". But no, this is not like "The Witch", "The Nun", or whatever "The..."-mainstream-movie US cinema has produced. "Häxan" is very different: it's a visual history and examination of witchcraft, superstition, and the devil, in European folklore. At the time of its first release "Häxan" was the most expensive Swedish film ever, and it shows. These are images you don't forget. There is zero shock or screamers here, no fancy sound effects, no frantic action sequences, but moody music and an endless amount of atmosphere. Watching an almost 100-year old movie can be a bit creepy in itself, but watching an almost 100-year old movie about witchcraft and the devil can be downright frightening if you're in the right mood.

Of course it's impossible to rate such an old movie adequately in context of its time. Seen from a modern perspective, it is surprisingly well-rounded in terms of scientific message - albeit there's not an overwhelming amount of it - and visually genuinely stunning. It seems like a peek into the forgotten roots of pretty much all horror literature (including films). It draws from the same pool as "Suspiria", "Insidious", "The Exorcist", and all the others, but is much closer to the source. And in contrast to the aforementioned it is absolutely not shy about putting witches, demons, and... well... the actual devil in full view.

Verdict: Must-see for the enthusiast. Spooky for everyone else. 8/10


Sweden, directed by Benjamin Christensen

Trailer video (non official, see link below):



Review: Blue Monkey aka Insect (1987, William Fruet)

A rare plant from somewhere near Micronesia is carrying a nasty kind of bug. Its bite causes serious infection, and as it turns out makes the victim become host to an unknown larva, which, a few mishaps later, grows quickly and wants to reproduce...

So this is a monster movie from the 80s. That in itself tells us a lot: It's got poodle haircuts with perms, too many colors, Korg M1 synth music, and the monster leaves a lot of slime behind. In "Blue Monkey" we also have the cop guy, the buddy cop guy, the hot blonde, the stoner guy that causes trouble, the old lady that has a quirky best friend old lady, not one, but two female doctors, the nerd guy, the kids with leukaemia, the... wait a minute.

Indeed, what starts as a pretty default, sometimes silly, 80s monster movie that moves forward a little too quickly and too bluntly, soon shows a couple of unexpected features. It has all the standard ingredients of such a type of movie, but there's a little more depth to it than usual. Yes, right from the beginning you pretty much know where this will go, and it does have some cheap and laughable moments. But it's a little less predictable and over the top than you might think. There's some beautiful, nuanced acting in some of the scenes, as are there moments of genuine inspiration and seriousness. The hospital setting with its panopticon of characters, each of which has some backstory, hints at a subtext that might be worth analysing. "Blue Monkey" also has a good amount of "Terminator" and "Alien" influence - and it's actually pretty thrilling.

If this movie had a little more character development, and maybe a little more time and money put into special effects, it would be a real smasher. As it is, it's a very watchable, sometimes genuinely gripping, above average creature shocker.

Verdict: Quite nice. Recommended. 6.5/10


Trailer video:

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