Welcome to UK Films Net

Welcome to UKFilms.net - Providing independent movie reviews since 2002. Here at UK Films Net, we are on a mission to seek out the coolest films and hidden gems from micro-budget to Hollywood blockbusters. We review films in all genres and all eras. We review the actual movies and the DVD quality. We have an attraction to B-Movies as this is the area where most hidden gems can be found, but we provide the lowdown on popular blockbusters too.

Dead End Drive-in Movie Review

Title: Dead End Drive-in
Format: DVD 
Year: 1986
Label: Arrow Video

Wow! This movie is more 80s than Purple Rain. And the music is better too.....well almost.
Although you would be mistaken for thinking that the 80s ingested it's self and spewed it's self back up causing a teenage mutant post-apocalyptic punk party - scratch that, you're probably right.

This movie is mental. And it works.
It's the distant future...maybe.....and the world ( or Australia ) is full of punks called cowboys who cause mayhem and destruction. The police are useless and dirty. A young jogger named Crabs takes his girlfriend to a drive in cinema. 

This is where the movie takes a crazy turn. Crabs and his girlfriend find themselves stranded after their car's wheels are stolen. It turns out that there are hundreds of people stranded in the drive-in and there is no escape. It reminds me of an abstract reworking of The Prisoner TV series, and it works pretty well.
All of the characters, costumes, props and locations are cool. There is only one gripe - the drive in is meant to be cut off from the world with only an S-road outside with miles to the next settlement - at least that's how I understood it, but you can clearly see houses outside of the walls when crane shots are used. Not a major flaw by any stretch.
Talking of crane shots - The direction is excellent. The camera movements, framing and pace are spot on.
As usual the Arrow video release is very good. The transfer looks great and the audio is excellent as too is the soundtrack.

All in all a quirky 80s Australian hidden gem and definitely worth checking out if you're an 80s fan.

UK Films Rating: 6.5/10
Release Rating: 8/10 - Excellent all round.
Did James like it? Yes

The Borderlands Movie Review

Title: Borderlands
Format: DVD 
Year: 2013
Label: Metrodome

First of all I must say that I'm not a big fan or follower of horror films in general. There are so many generically bland horror films out there that it dulls the senses. The Borderlands does not fall into that category. I'd go as far as to say this is a marvel ( not the comic )

The filming style - head cameras and CCTV static cameras works amazingly well. It really pulls you into the moment.

The whole production is a triumph. The sounds, staging, understated effects, locations and direction are superb. It does have a low budget feel, but that is why it works so well. This takes the Blair Witch concept and turns it into something so much deeper and immersive.

The acting is spot on. Especially the two lead characters, Deacon & Grey. 

The character interactions are believable and well developed. A combination of excellent script writing and talented actors. The village setting works well. The village locals and the teenage yobs all help to increase the claustrophobia. In fact I think the village could have been developed a little further, but hey, its an 87 mins film which is brilliantly paced, so I can't really complain.

The premise of Vatican investigators, seems a tall feet to pull off considering that the film is set in southern England, but it is pulled off brilliantly. The production team really planned these aspects very well. Every scenario and location is exploited for maximum production value. The attention to detail in regards to the props and the historical research means that the limitations of the source footage just enhances the realism.

It does take a few minutes to get used to this style of filming - I am an avid hater of shaky-cam in modern productions, both low budget and hollywood, but in this case, it's brilliant. In fact, it's not really as shaky as a hand held camera as they are attached to the head.

Whether you are a fan of horror or not, I thoroughly recommend that you experience The Borderlands for yourself. I'm sure it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for those looking for a true immersive experience that's a little off the beaten track, check it out!

UK Films Rating: 8.5/10
Release Rating: 8/10 - Excellent all round.
Did James like it? Yes

Slipstream Movie Review

Title: Slipstream
Format: DVD 
Year: 1989
Label: Entertainment in Video

From the Producer of Satrwars ( Gary Kurtz ) and the Director of Tron ( Steven M Lisberger ) comes this sci-fi adventure staring Bill Baxton & Mark Hamill.

This was Mark Hamill's return to acting after a few years away. I'm sure that on paper, this film seemed the ideal role for him to take. In reality it falls short of the mark. 
The acting is generally pretty good on the whole. The story seems interesting enough, but the script lets it down massively. There is no believable interactions by the characters. The cheeky rogue character played by Paxton is over written.

The set designs are good and the direction is good, but I can't help but feel that the locations are too sparse looking.
It is set in a post apocalyptic world, but a lot of the places that our adventurers pass through are densely populated, so a few more signs of life would add some interest.

The last third of the film is the most interesting part. The bonds between the characters are developed much further.

Alot of the scenes seem to rely on the soundtrack to convey emotion, but is not nearly enough.

Hamill's character is not very well defined, but I think he did a decent enough job. All in all, slipstream was dissapointing and generally hard work from start to finish.

The DVD from entertainment in Video is pretty poor. The film is presented in 4:3 ratio and there are several shots where it becomes obvious that this is a pan & scan. The transfer could have been cleaner too.

UK Films Rating: 3/10
Release Rating: 3/10 - Poor transfer. No extras.
Did James like it? No

Omega Cop Film Review

Title: Omega Cop
Format: DVD 
Year: 1990
Label: Unknown

A post apocalyptic action movie with lots of karate, guns, explosions, strange make up and Batman ( Adam West ) in the command centre. What's not to like? Well....nothing really, it's actually pretty good. In a B-Movie cheesefest kinda way.

The Director only ever directed 5 films. Mostly martial arts based. He's no Tarantino, but he delivers the action, he's not as in your face as Enzo G Castellari, but he's not a million miles away. I only have one gripe - now I'm a fan of 70s & 80s Grindhouse movies and as such, I love a bit of camera zoom to add some drama, but Kyriazi goes slightly overboard. Practically every scene features multiple zoom shots. A minor issue really. In fact what am I talking about? I love dramatic zoom.

The story involves some kind of apocalyptic solar flares which seems to have wiped out most of the population. It's a bit vague and not really explored in much detail, but who cares.

This movie seems to have taken influence from films such as The Bronx Warriors. Some of the makeup is identical. It works. Where it fails to meet the grand scale compared to Bronx Warriors, it makes up for in action. The fight scenes are solid. Not quite as good as some of the other budget martial arts films such as the No Retreat No Surrender series, but a decent effort all the same.
The supporting cast are all more than competent. The characters are well defined and they deliver their cheezy dialogue with pride. The two lead characters on the other hand leave a lot to be desired. Ronald L. Marchini who play John Travis comes across as a poor man's Chuck Norris ( Oh how glorious that would have been ) - He's a decent martial artist, but he's no actor. But again, this doesn't seem to matter. After the first few minutes, your brain begins to accept that the character actually talks like he's re-sighting lines and has a facial movement problem. No big deal.  Chuck Katzakian who plays Wraith on the other hand, doesn't really have any redeeming features. He doesn't fight, he cannot communicate very well and he looks very hot in his leather Nazi SS uniform. 

Adam West has a small role as Travis's man on the radio, which works well and helps to break up the onslaught of running and fighting scenes.

The costumes are good, nothing exciting but good enough. The sets are limited but again, good enough. It looks like they though about the locations and used the budget wisely. Most of the scenes are set in one of the Five locations. 

There are some continuity problems, which I suppose should be expected but some are just a little too obvious. Spoiler alert***** One at the end is totally ridiculous. Travis Runs from an exploding building in boots, combats, shirt and cap. He runs towards the lake, he jumps in the air, he dives towards the lake in slow motion.......hold on......first we see that somehow, mid-air, his cap and shirt have dissapeared.......next we see that he still has khaki trousers on.....oh no....hold on.....they are shorts!!..........and he is now bare footed.

All in all a hidden gem and definitely recommended for B-Movie fans. The UK DVD release that I have is a double film pack twinned with Psycho cop. There is no release information on the cover or disc at all. There is a sequel called Karate cop, by a different director which I will be reviewing in the coming months. 

UK Films Rating: 7.5/10
Release Rating: 5/10 - Decent transfer, terrible artwork not extras.
Did James like it? Yes

Empire Of Ash Movie Review

Title: Empire Of Ash
Format: DVD 
Year: 1988
Label: 23rd Century

Another post apocalyptic trash movie released on DVD by 23rd century. It has a lot going for it at first glance. Plenty of action, lots of guns, lots of armor clad vehicles, topless girls, rock soundtrack and plenty of extras. The direction is decent for the most part too in a TV movie style.

The main problem is that the story is disjointed at best, completely absent for the most part. It feels like at some parts, the film makers actually forgot what the plot was, so they threw in a few minutes of topless girls to distract the viewer long enough to pick up wherever they liked. The acting is atrocious for the most part. It's unclear who the lead characters are and the dialogue makes no sense. None of these things would usually put me off, but this one is just too difficult to actually be convinced at any level.

There are some excellent action scenes mixed in with some ridiculously poor action which is a real shame.

There seems to be two lead female characters both of whom get their kit off which seems sensible. Then there are a number of other characters who's characters are not really developed enough to really get a grasp of. There is a religious element thrown in which really is very vague and half hearted.

It has a similar vibe to Death Run which I reviewed a few months back. But where Death Run succeeded on a pocket money budget, Empire of Ash fails. The production value of Empire of Ash is miles better than Death Run, the make-up is not dissimilar but its clear that there was a costume designer involved in this one.
To sum it up I would have to say that it looks good, the sets, costumes and props are good. The leafy locations are not so great and the lack of any decent plot let it down massively.

If you are a collector of post apocalyptic trash then it's worth picking up. The DVD from 23rd Century is not bad. Seems like a very good VHS rip.

UK Films Rating: 2/10
Release Rating: 4/10 - No extras.
Did James like it? No