Braveheart (1925)



Braveheart (1925) has nothing to do with the Mel Gibson film of the same name – for which we should give thanks.  It is, instead, a rather strange mix of melodrama and action film that no doubt had good intentions but comes across as rather awkward when viewed today.

Braveheart is a member of a tribe of Native Americans who are involved in a dispute over fishing rights.  The Chief of the tribe is convinced that violence is not the way forward, and so Braveheart is shipped off to college to learn about law so that he he can return and defeat the businessmen in a court of law.  Mixed into this is Braveheart’s love for the woman he rescued after she fell from her horse (who, years later, just happens to turn up in the city where he is studying).  Also thrown into this is a subplot about football!

It’s an odd film that doesn’t entirely hold together.  Part of this is due to the episodic nature of the narrative – it almost feels like three short films tied together with a piece of string.  Also at fault, though, is the clunky way in which the film deals with racial issues.  That it deals with them at all should probably be applauded for a 1925 film, but it does so with a complete lack of subtlety.  One intertitle quotes a character as saying “He is an Indian – His people are scum.”  Yes, the line is intended to provoke hatred in the viewer for the guy that said it, but this bull-in-a-china-shop approach is not the best way to approach such issues.   The other problem here is Rod LaRoque.  Despite that wonderful name, an impressive barrel-chest, and (in this film) a very dodgy hair-do, LaRoque never manages to convince me that he is leading man material.  He always seems to come across as a pretender to Fairbanks’ throne, although I admit I often find LaRoque more likeable.

Silent film fans often have a difficult relationship with Alpha Video, who present us with prints ranging from the good to the downright unwatchable.  Of late, however, they do at least present us with at least some films unavailable elsewhere.  Braveheart is, though, available from Grapevine as well, but I can’t comment on Grapevine’s edition.  The running time is the same in both cases.  The intertitles for the first ten minutes or so of the Alpha edition are new ones that are inserted, but sadly are typed up by someone who doesn’t understand the use of capital letters or realise that there isn’t a space before a comma or full stop.  This does become a tad annoying, but the original titles are used after the first ten minutes or so.  The print is…well, it’s ninety years old and unrestored.  That said, it’s perfectly watchable (more so after the opening few minutes).

Braveheart is an enjoyable little movie to pass away fifty minutes or so and, while it’s no masterpiece, I often find that these “regular” movies are far more entertaining the more prestigious movies from the period that get released by the bigger companies.

(If anyone has seen the Grapevine edition and can comment on the quality of that print, I will be happy to copy and paste those comments at the bottom of this article)

Mortuary (2005)


The 2005 horror film Mortuary suffers from a single, if significant, flaw:  it was made.   The following review contains spoilers.  But spoilers are only a problem if you intend to watch the film in question.  Believe me, you don’t.

Quite what possessed Tobe Hooper, the man behind such classics as Poltergeist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to make such an horrendous film is rather baffling.  This is a film, after all, in which the storyline is basically about a mother and her two children taking over a mortuary that suffers from an outbreak of black goo-like moss that turns people into zombie-like creatures.  I would give you a reason for the existence of the goo, but sadly the film doesn’t give us one.  I’d tell you why there’s a madman living in a tomb, but there’s not a reason for that either.  Nor is there a reason why rock salt “kills” the goo, but that’s kind of just left to our imagination (or perhaps Hooper had caught an episode of Supernatural at some point).  I’d give you reason for the film’s existence, but that’s not clear either.

What I’m trying to say here is that Mortuary is a pile of crap.  That’s not a description I often use in my reviews, but it’s very apt here.  And this comes from a guy who has recently watched more than his fair share of Elvis films over the last few months for a project I’m working on – in comparison, Kissin’ Cousins is Gone with the Wind.

What makes Mortuary slightly interesting (at least for this writer) is that it is one of two films from 2005 by horror maestros in which one of the teenagers at the heart of the narrative is gay.  The other film, Cursed by Wes Craven (hardly a classic, but better than this), makes more of a fuss about the gay issue than Hooper does here.  In the case of Mortuary a teenager announces to his friend that he’s gay, he says “that’s cool,” and it’s never mentioned again.  And that, in fact, is rather cool.   There is often a link between (homo)sexuality and horror, but it’s often implicit, and all too often links homosexuality with the monster at the heart of the film.  That’s not the case here, and the inclusion of a character who just happens to be gay in a teen horror film (well, I’m guessing it’s aimed at teens) is a welcome one, and it’s a shame it doesn’t happen more often.  Of course, the gay guy dies first – killed by a dead, hairy old man in briefs.  Don’t ask.

Horror films with gay characters normally end up being directed by David DeCoteau who, if you don’t know already, makes horror films in which attractive twenty-something males spend most of the film in their white boxers, writhing around in bed (alone).  In other words, he took the similar images from Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and made a career out of it.  DeCoteau’s films aren’t good.  In fact they appear to get worse as time goes on, but at least you know what to expect.  With a film directed by Tobe Hooper, one expects something that at least passes the time effectively.

Sadly the issues with Mortuary don’t end with the stupid plot.  The CGI effects are awful, and the pacing often makes the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a fast-moving action thriller.  The three teens at the heart of the narrative are at least likeable and slightly kooky, and the actors do well with what they are given to work with.  Sadly what they are given is a director who has lost the plot, and a script that should never have been filmed.

Mortuary was Hooper’s last film to be released for eight years.  Djinn (2013) was made in the United Arab Emirates and its release had been delayed since 2011.  Critics have not been kind to the movie – perhaps Hooper’s best days are far behind him.

Dear Anna – A Response to a Concerned (homophobic) Reader


I apologise for the personal nature of this post, but I hope my regular readers who are uninterested in such matters will forgive this indulgence and come back soon for a nice juicy film review!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for the blog about Eurovision, and the possible importance of Conchita Wurst winning the competition.  Today I received the following comment on that post (I have left spelling/grammar etc as is):

There is a huge cognitive dissonance at play. The media as well as the “gay community” have completely lost their touch to reality. Aks anyone on the street about the whole “Wurst” thing and you get at the very least 80% negative comments about it. Ppl are fed up by this endless promtion of gays etc., there are only 1-3% of the pop. who are not hetero sexual, yet that at best 3% is trying t indoctrinate the 97%!
my advice is to take it a whole lot slower, because if you gay activists keep pushing just a little more, ppl will have enough of that nonsense and they will be openly opposed to the whole gay thing and to call ppl who dont want to call a gay lifestyle good as mentaly ill (homophobe= irrational fear, ergo a mental illness) is not helping at all.
As far as I am concerned, pls go ahead with what you are doing, you are digging your own grave.


Dear Anna

It’s sometimes difficult to know where to start when one receives such comments (which is, thankfully, rarely).  However, you clearly think your voice is not being heard, so let’s give you some time in the sun and take your comments seriously.  After all, you have been spending your valuable time standing in the street asking people what they think of the “Wurst thing” and getting 80% negative comments about it.

This seems odd considering Eurovision is a  contest partly decided by public vote and Ms Wurst won.  Add to that the fact that statistics that appeared after the show tell us that the public vote was hugely in favour of Wurst.  The vote on the occasion was split in most countries between a televote and a jury decision.  In over twenty of the countries that voted, Austria was in the top 3 by the public vote.  In only four countries was Austria voted outside of the top 5.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder just where you have been conducting her poll.  Your email address is German, and yet recent polls from Germany show that 70% of the population support same-sex marriage.  Bearing that in mind, would the same people really care about a “bearded lady” winning Eurovision?  I doubt it.

Now, let’s get down to the whole indoctrination thing.  All the 3% want, Anna (and I hope you don’t mind me calling you Anna), is to be treated as equals. We’re not trying to convert you – heaven help us, looking at your comments most of the LGBT population are no doubt quite glad you’re straight.   What’s interesting though, is you don’t want us to “indoctrinate” you, but you are happy to give us the advice of taking it a “whole lot slower.”   My dear girl, it’s taken 2000 years to get where we are now, how slowly do you want us to take it?

Your definition of homophobia as a mental illness is indeed that – yours, not mine.  Either way, you clearly don’t spend much time reading my posts if you think that I view having a mental illness as somehow demeaning or offensive.  Homophobia is an irrational fear simply because it IS a fear.  What are you scared of?  So what if we finally persuade all of the Annas of the world that we simply want equality?  Are you scared of thatEquality?  I doubt that.

Your final sentence shows exactly where you’re really coming from – sheer vindictiveness.   After all, you do tell us to “pls go ahead with what you are doing, you are digging your own grave.”  You want us to dig our own graves?  This is nothing about you wanting us to take things slower – you simply don’t want us to exist.  Well, my dear concerned reader, I would like to confirm that I do not feel the same way about you.   Every time somebody like yourself writes a comment like yours, more people get outraged and realise that you’re in the wrong here – or, at the very least, irrational.  I’d like to assume that your issue here is simply a lack of education – but considering the nature of your comments and your choice of language, that simply isn’t the case.

Do I get angry with people like you?  Not really.  I feel sorry for you, Anna.  Sorry that you can’t live your life without being outraged by someone singing a song – and even more sorry that, four weeks on, you were still on the internet looking for articles on the singer you were outraged by and feeling the urge to write a comment.  Really and truly, have you nothing better to do? You call me a “gay activist,” something I would say is really not true.   I may well use my blog and twitter for political purposes from time to time and to put the LGBT viewpoint across, but that hardly makes me an activist.   You, on the other hand, seem far more “active” putting your point across than I am.

Now, I’m off to live my life, and I sincerely hope that you manage to find a way to live yours without worrying about the shocking behaviour of  1-3% of the population.

Best wishes

Shane x