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Friday, 15 November 2013

A Blast From The Past: A Trip Down Tartan Lane!

Hi Folks,

Just a short, but slightly surreal, update for you all today.

Any of you who viewed foreign-language films, either at the cinema or on VHS tapes back in the 1990's, would probably have heard of a film distributor by the name of Metro Tartan.

They famously started-up in 1984, fouded by Hamish McAlpine, and released films under the Metro Tartan label for cinemas, and then as Tartan Films, Tartan Video and Tartan DVD on the relevant home viewing formats. They brought foreign-language films to a wider UK and US audience, including the works of Ingmar Bergman, John Woo,Werner Hezog, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Nanni Moretti, and many, many more. (Wikipedia has a list of all of their films, which you can access  here  for full information, including catalogue numbers.) They are also credited with introducing the UK to the whole Asia Extreme phenomenon, and created a DVD label with the same name, bringing the works of Takashi Miike and others to UK-shores. Alas, Tartan Films ran into financial troubles in June of 2008, and went into administration. Although resurrected as Palisades Tartan, it's not quite the same label, though it still focusses predominantly on Asian-language movies.

But my reason for bringing this subject up, was because any of you who purchased one of their films on VHS tape, will probably remember they used to start their tapes with an amazing trailer reel, accompanied with one of the best pieces of instrumental music I've ever heard. The trailer reel showcased the following films:
  • Providence (1977, Alain Resnais)
  • The Fireman's Ball (1967, Milos Forman)
  • Three Shorts By Hal Hartley (Various, Hal Hartley)
  • The Tune (1992, Bill Plympton)
  • Simple Men (1992, Hal Hartley)
  • Kwaidan (1964,Masaki Kobayashi)
  • Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindô)
  • The Ploughman's Lunch (1983, Richard Eyre)
  • La Scorta (1993, Ricky Tognazzi)
  • Trouble In Mind (1985, Alan Rudolph)
  • Equinox (1992, Alan Rudolph)
  • The Red Squirrel (1993, Julio Medem)
  • In The Soup (1992, Alexandre Rockwell)
  • Cinema Paradiso: The Special Edition (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

Later versions included scenes from John Woo's HARD-BOILED as well, but for the most part, the Reel stayed the same for many, many years. If you wanted to show people why World Cinema was not boring, this was the way to do it. Show them this, and you'd certainly peak their interest!

The trailer featured an amazingly beautiful and upbeat piece of instrumental music. For a long time, I never knew what it was, until I discovered the Trailer Reel on YouTube. Zimbabwean band The Bhundu Boys performed the piece, and it's called "My Foolish Heart / Waerera".

And this is what it looked like. (Thanks to YouTube user Stribbler for unearthing this gem!)




This is not only one of the best trailer's ever made, in my view, but I love the music. The full-version can also be found on YouTube, but I attach it here, for your enjoyment. (Thanks to YouTube user ARoseGrowingOld for the track.)




Once you've seen and heard the trailer and song, you won't forget it. This is just such a great combination of imagery and sound, and I miss seeing this on my Tartan DVD's. It was a crying shame of being ommitted, but nonetheless, everyone who loves film should see and hear this at least once. And this is why I'm sharing it with you folks, my dear blog-readers!

I'll be back, next month with an end-of-year round-up/Christmas List of unusual, offbeat, erotic or extreme titles worth purchasing or owning. For now though, it's goodbye from me. See you back here shortly!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

RE-ANIMATOR: A Blu-Ray Review

A Warm Welcome To You All,

If you were a horror film fan in the 1980's, then there was one film, that every discerning collector wanted to own. A jet-black comic remake of the classic H.P. Lovecraft short story, which became the hit film from Stuart Gordon. We bid a warm welcome to 1985's RE-ANIMATOR.

Following the exploits of a deluded young scientist called Herbert West, (played to perfection by Jeffrey Combs), he develops a serum-agent that purports to bring the dead back to life, with horrific consequences. Determined to conquer the brain-death barrier - where a human life expires but the brain can supposedly still potentially be brought back from the brink of absolute death, within a minute of expiring - West first tests his serum on a Swiss Doctor, resulting in a very bloody death before the opening credits. Exiled for his controversial scientific theories, he arrives at the Arkham Institute, and moves in with Dan Cain, a fellow Med School Doctor-in-training. But Cain soon can't keep himself from trying to find out why West is so secretive. His discovery of what he's up to is both side-splittingly funny, and genuinely creepy.

One of the finest horror films ever made, now, or in the 1980's, this is a monumentally enjoyable film, that has been released in many different versions over the years. Three versions technically exist:
- The Uncut Theatrical Edition,
- An Integral Version, or Extended Director's Cut, and
- A TV Version.

There are, of course, many censored, cut or butchered versions, but we will ignore these for the moment, as they have no real bearing on things. All three main versions have been released on different formats over the years, in one manner or another, and with varying degrees of censorship being applied to them. However, as of September 2013, Amazon Germany has been stocking this new release from German Blu-Ray company Capelight (Alive AG), and my, what a splendid release this is!

Released in the form of a Mediabook - a format much beloved by Germans for many cult and horror movies on DVD and Blu-Ray - this lovely little item is handsomely packaged as a 2-Blu-Ray, 1-DVD triple-disc Limited Collector's Edition set, for about 28 Euros / £27 / $37. (Amazon.de are currently out-of-stock, and the price has now skyrocketed to 44 Euros / £36 / $59, so keep checking back to see if more copies are back for sale!)

On the first Blu-Ray disc, you have the Original Uncut Theatrical Version of the film, here labelled as the "Unrated Version". Running to about 86 minutes, and presented in HD in full 1080p High-Definition, the film has never looked better. Although this is a German release, there are multiple audio soundtracks to select from. The main ones being: German DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono for the original soundtrack as heard back in cinemas in 1985. Completely removable English and/or German subtitles are also available, for those who wish to have access to them.

The print is the nicest I have ever seen it look. Detail is there, in every nook and cranny, especially with a film that has lots of shots of human body parts, and close-up's of heads - living, dead and re-animated. Colours are all clearly delineated with no bleeding or other problems. Hair strands on people's heads and skin can be seen in crystal clarity. This really is a stunning image and a pristine presentation.

Accompanying the Original Uncut Theatrical Version, are two audio commentaries, a music-only audio track featuring Richard Band's memorable homage to Bernard Hoffman's PSYCHO score. There's a previously released, 65-minute documentary called "Re-Animator Resurrected", a batch of 16 deleted scenes, an extended scene, plus interviews with Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, screenwriter Dennis Paoli, FANGORIA-editor Tony Timpone and one with Richard Band as well. On top of all of this, you also have three multi-angle storyboard sequences, a trailer and a TV advert to work your way through.

Moving onto the second Blu-Ray disc, here labelled as "Integral Cut", you get the rarely-seen Extended Director's Cut, running to almost 20 minutes longer than the Theatrical Edition, and this - for me at least - is the main reason to buy this set. The extra footage has all been re-scanned in 4k by a German film laboratory, to make sure it doesn't jar with the Theatrical Version material, and it looks mighty fine too.

Spread throughout the film's 1hr 44m running time, the film becomes a lot more dramatic and leisurely-paced, but it is certainly none the worse for it. In fact, I personally feel that this Extended Director's Cut is superior in many aspects. There are additional scenes never seen before, mostly extending Dan Cain's relationship with Megan Halsey (a memorable performance from a young Barbara Crampton), as well as more footage of the deeply demented Dr Carl Hill's antics, portrayed equally memorably by actor David Gale. Some additional gore, violence and nudity is also included too, which adds some additional "meat" to the film, but if you haven't seen the film in a long time, you may not notice where all the extra material has been inserted into the film. But that's a good thing. It's nice to just enjoy the film with fresh eyes, and not care where stuff you know well ends and material that you haven't seen begins.

Once more, the film is presented in full 1080p High-Definition, and is accompanied with multiple audio soundtracks, including German DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. And, as before, completely removable English and/or German subtitles are also available.

Now, here's the bonus: what Capelight don't tell you, is that a third version of the film is also included, as an Easter Egg. Insert the second Blu-Ray disc, select "Einstellungen" (Languages), then "Untertitel" (Subtitles), then "Aus" (Off), then - on some Blu-Ray players/drives only, you may also need to press Enter/Select - and the infamous TV Version will now start playing!

Running to just over 80 minutes, and presented here in a non-letterboxed, 4:3 full-frame version, and in Standard Definition only, this additional version of the film is really meant to be viewed as an extra for completists. The print used is not looking great, and the sound is English Stereo 2.0 only. I don't think there are subtitles either, though you may wish to double-check this, just in case. What makes the TV Version worth a look, is that aside from removing much of the gore and violence - for obvious reasons - it pads out the running time with material that, to my knowledge, is not in any other version of it. The footage only amounts to a few seconds here-and-there at most, but it's still worth a watch once, just to see what the editors had to do to make it suitable for American TV networks in the 1990's.

The third and final disc, the DVD, contains just one version of the film - the Original Uncut Theatrical Version, in German and/or English Dolby Digital 5.1 only, plus most of the extras from the Blu-Ray's. The image looks great, but when compared to the Blu-Ray, it's never going to be anywhere near as brilliant. And to be fair, this set is very much aimed at the Blu-Ray collector. The DVD is very much an after thought, purely so you can watch the film elsewhere, such as a portable DVD player, for when you are out-and-about.

Topping everything off, there is a 24-page, full-colour booklet inserted into the middle of the set, but understandably, it's in German only. Most of the writing is a discussion on the film, the differing versions included in this set, and some interviews with the main cast and crew. I'm sure it's excellent to read, but as a non-German, it's not something I can comment upon. Still, it's nice that Capelight made the effort. It's always nice to see film companies go that extra mile for their fans.

This is truly an essential purchase, and I cannot recommend it highly enough! It's a great film, given wonderful treatment, and containing something for any fan - new or old - of this bloody, and bloody funny horror classic! Simply put, you owe it to yourself to buy this, as soon as possible! I doubt that this release will be improved upon for a long time!

Just before I end this review, I should mention that there is a 5-disc Edition being released in Spain, as we speak. However, this is an inferior release, in my view. You get the Uncut Theatrical Version on Blu-Ray and DVD, a CD of the complete soundtrack, a 48-page, full-colour booklet discussing the film's creation and production, plus in-depth interviews, plus a further two DVD's of extras - most, though not all, of which are included on the German Blu-Ray release. I've not been able to ascertain exactly what is missing from the German Limited Edition release under review here, but if any of my Spanish readers wish to get in touch, I will happily post the information on this review. For me, though, the exclusion of the Extended Director's Cut is an exclusion too far! For me, the three versions of the film, beat any amount of extra interviews with cast and crew, especially with two of those versions being in full 1080p HD. With that said, some of you might like to get this release. It is in English and Spanish, but I think it's not as good value for money as the German set. Still, each to their own, and the choice may be exactly what some of you want.

I hope you enjoyed this review. I heartily recommend RE-ANIMATOR, and if you've never seen it, watch the Uncut Theatrical Version, followed by the Extended Director's Cut. The former is faster, punchier, and snappier. The latter, is more involving and extravagant. Either way, though, it's one of the best horrors given one of the best releases ever!

Be seeing you!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (1975) - A Blu-Ray Review

Welcome Back, Folks!

Severin Films have recently released the infamous UK Video Nasty THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (aka EXPOSE, aka TRAUMA) (1975, James Kenelm Clarke) onto a Dual-Format set.

The film is an interesting oddity, and it's nice to see a company essentially rescue such a work from obscurity. (More on this in a moment.) The film is set in Essex, in England, and follows Udo Kier as Paul Martin, an author trying to write his second novel, plagued with hallucinations and terrifying visions.

Retiring to a remote house in the middle of nowhere, (actually Hatfield Peverel in Essex, England), he is accompanied by buxom secretary Linda (Linda Hayden), who is there to look after Mr Martin and type-up his novel. But whilst there, Linda has other plans on her mind, and nothing and no one is going to stop her. At first compliant with Martin's demands, she then starts to turn on him, and those around him. In particular, the lady who looks after the house, Mrs Aston (Patsy Smart)

The film is rather slight, and the plot isn't the most demanding, but being a British-based "nasty", I was particularly enamoured with it, for daring to be different. It's a rather chaotic blend of sex and violence, (more of the former, not too much of the latter), that doesn't always work, but it's never boring. At a scant 84-minutes, it zips along at a fair pace, and you soon forgive any possible plot issues. Things like why Martin always wears latex gloves when he's about to have sex, or why Mrs Aston is so moody looking after Martin, when she's meant to be a housekeeper.

British 70's sex-symbol Fiona Richmond stars as Martin's girlfriend Suzanne, but she is rarely on-screen, and when she is, her acting is pretty attrocious by any standards. Most of her screentime, is her undressing, pouting, and/or getting it on with Martin.

Severin Films have spent a lot of time on this release, and whilst it will never win any awards for the picture and sound, they should be thanked for rescuing this film from relative obscurity. (The Blu-Ray comes with DTS-HD MA Mono audio only.) As a note at the start of the film warns viewers, the film no longer exists in a complete version. Severin had to blend together two 35mm film prints which were very bruised and battered, and a heavily water-damaged 35mm print, from a private collector, that has also seen better days. As such, the result is visually poor by modern standards. Hovering somewhere between DVD and VHS in quality, although there are no artifacts or blocking, and the film remains reasonably sharp for most of the running time, it's not in a great state by any means. Anyone purchasing or renting this film, will need to be in a very forgiving mood. AVATAR this isn't!

Colour is fair, but often shimmers and moves. Sometimes it looks great, other times muddy and ill-defined. There is a lot of dust, dirt and scratches on the print, along with some very noticeable print damage, reel-change issues, and occasional image stuttering - noticeably in a scene where Linda and Martin go for a drive. This is not a fault of the Blu-Ray, but of the original prints utilised here, and as such, viewers have to accept, that this film will never look remotely great, no matter how many thousands of dollars is spent attempting to restore it. Simply put, this is the best THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL will ever look.

The British censorship history is a little checkered, and even the BBFC's own website isn't entirely clear of exactly what happened and when. However, I have managed to establish the following details, as a rough guide. Under the title of EXPOSE, the film was classified with the old "X" certificate on 12th February 1976, with cuts of around 3 minutes-or-so. Most of the excised material dealt with the violence (a throat being cut, and some other assorted knife-wounds), plus the rape of Linda, and almost all of the sexual material.

In 1979, Intervision released the film on Betamax and then VHS, under the same title. Some of these releases included the BBFC's old "X" certificate logo at the start of the film, but were in fact uncut, though it is not clear how any viewer could distinguish a cut version from an uncut one. (Luck, probably!) To make matters more confusing, video releases were given under both EXPOSE and THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL. By 1984/85, and the whole Video Nasty scandal erupting, the then Director of Public Prosecutions had added all versions of the film, onto their hit-list of 39 Nasties, effectively banning the film from cinemas or video - at least in the uncut version.

Ten years on, and Odyssey Video resubmitted the film, and the BBFC removed just 51 seconds, predominantly the entirety of the rape sequence and the murder in the bathroom. This edition came out twice: on VHS with an 18 certificate in 1995, and again on DVD, also with an 18 rating, in the middle of 2002. This same edit, was supposedly released by Village Entertainment DVD, four years later, though no one I know was ever able to locate an actual version of it to purchase.

A few UK-based TV channels have aired this cut version on TV, including Channel 5, but none of the violence and none of the sex remains, reducing the film's run time to a little over 75 minutes - meaning viewers were probably left wondering what all the fuss was about.

The Severin Blu-Ray/DVD Dual-Format release, supposedly contains the complete and uncut version. However, with that said, I don't think this is entirely accurate. From my research, many people who reviewed the film in the past, have said that the rape scene is one of the most contentious in film-history, and that it appeared to go on for a "very long time". I have also read material, that suggests the rape is much more explicit, includes full-frontal nudity, and a lot more suggestion that Linda "enjoys" the rape, before she shoots her rapist - with his shotgun - and, on top of this - his injuries are far more bloody too.

Now, whether this is actually true or not, is impossible to determine. People's memory's are suspect at the best of times. Severin's release does the best it can. And for that, I can't fault them. The rape scene doesn't appear to be as nasty as history has suggested. Yes, it's not pleasant - but then rape scenes shouldn't be. (An issue I've talked of, in previous blog entries.) But if Severin's release, is indeed completely uncut, then the rape scene is very short - certainly under 50 seconds - and it's not particularly graphic. The most contentious part, is Linda miming masturbation of the shotgun barrel, whilst she is being raped, and the look on her face. Hence, the implication that she appears to be unperplexed by her situation.

But like I say, I don't want my words to sound like I'm condoning sexual violence, or agreeing with it, even in the context of a fictional horror film.

Overall, I suspect that this film would probably pass uncut today, with an 18, maybe even scraping a 15. The violence is very limited, and not especially nasty. Yes, there is some blood on breasts and crotches, but it's so restrained, as to be dated and ever-so-slightly ridiculous-looking. That said, the film is still enjoyable and an interesting oddity in the cannon of Video Nasties. By no means is it truly worth of its acclaimed status, but it's still a very worthwhile watch, as long as you know what you're getting.

What makes Severin's release truly great, though, is that the first 3000 copies of it come bundled with a bonus DVD, containing the old Anchor Bay two-part documentary BAN THE SADIST VIDEOS. (Copies that do so, are labelled with a sticker on the front-cover.) A compelling and detailed account of the whole Video Nasty event, from those involved in it: law-makers, via law-breakers, film critics to film collector's. Part 1 is about 50 minutes, and Part 2 is about 44 minutes. Both are in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a really informative way to spend 95-minutes of your time. This was previously released in the UK only, on the two Anchor Bay "Box Of The Banned" DVD boxed-sets, with each set containing one part of the documentary. So for non-UK fans, this is your first chance to own a proper, official release of this really, rather brilliant doc.

Alongside this, the film itself is also included on DVD, for those who wish to see it in that format. I believe both the Blu-Ray, and both of the DVD discs are Region Free, so should play on any DVD or Blu-Ray players. However, that emphasis is on the should play. It's not guaranteed. So please be aware of this.

Accompanying the film, there's an audio commentary from the film's writer/director Kenelm Clarke and the producer Brian Smedley-Aston. I didn't get time to listen to that, so can't comment upon it, but it will probably be good for those wanting to know more about the film's inception, creation, and completion.

There's a trailer - which for some odd reason, despite appearing to be meant to be in 16:9 - is played in forced 4:3. Quite why this is, I'm not sure, but it looks like there may be a faulty encode on the Blu-Ray, but it's not a major issue in my books. More a minor irritation! And then last, but not least, a 14-minute interview with Linda Hayden herself. Still looking as beautiful as she did in 1975, she talks about her career, her film choices and why she doesn't like THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL. The interview is good, but it's too short to be really interesting. Don't get me wrong, you'll enjoy watching it, and it is informative, but I wanted to know more about why she is so dismissive of THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL. Considering her previous films, I wonder how much of her dislike is really to do with the films she chose to be in, and how much is an issue with the films content themselves. Still, it's a worthy extra. I just desired more. Though her slightly catty and scathing comments of her fans, is a tad unfair and unwarranted, in my view. This is definitely a lady wanting her cake and eating it!

Overall, though, despite the many flaws, I still think this is a great little release, and a worthy addition to your film collection. There's certainly no other film quite like it, and as a bit of Video Nasty history, it's never less than attention-holding!

Recommended!

Later on this week, I'll be reviewing another cult classic, that is a must-own on Blu-Ray, and is out in a lovely, 3-Disc Limited Collector's Edition. Stay-tuned...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Forums: Good For Nothing?

It saddens me, that in the 21st Century, too many online film/movie forums are run by people who seem to be of a very narrow-mind. That is, they run them like fiefdoms, without rules to which members can abide by or rules that are so open to interpretation, that they may as well have no rules at all. They also seem to be run by people who have only one view: that you can be a member of their forum, as long as you agree with everything they say and do.

That's not a forum, in my books. That's a cult!

Today, I find myself having my I.P. address banned from a particular online Forum, that is supposedly very well run, but for which I have no idea as to what I did or said, that required such drastic action. I won't name the Forum concerned, but it's a US-based one, as well as being one I've never talked of before, and seems to be very much run with a lack of freedom-of-expression in mind. If you agree with what everyone else says and does, then you'll fit right in. If, like me, you don't, then it seems you aren't welcome there.

If a forum is not for debate and open discussion, then what is its intended purpose, other than a hangout?

I've never been someone to just blindly accept rules and regulations. I always question those who create them, because I personally feel that if you don't, then you will merely be a puppet, to whom anyone can do whatever they like, and you will tacitly agree to every rule or regulation they create - which, as history has demonstrated - could lead to awful circumstances, such as Naziism and Communism.

Now, I am in no way saying that the Forum I have had my I.P. address banned, is being run by Nazi's or Communists. What I am saying, is that they aren't being run, in the way public forums should be.

Firstly, a good, well-run forum should have a set of clearly defined rules to which Members sign-up to abide by. These usually include obvious things like not posting pornographic links; to not abusing other members; to not swearing or using explicitly foul language (or bypassing any swear-filters the forum may choose to operate), and/or refraining from talking on issues such as politics and religion.

Those rules are all fair and right and just. I have no problem with any of them, and even though I do use strong language in some of my blog posts, my blog is aimed at those over 18, and has an age-barrier warning on it, that you agree too, before you can access and read it.

However, some Forums have no clear rules at all.

The one I've recently had my IP address blocked from, had no clear rules. They said that swearing wasn't allowed, but it frequently was. They said that personal insults and attacking other members wasn't allowed, but such actions frequently took place, and no one did anything about it. "Unfair" criticisms and complaints of companies weren't allowed, but what and how do you define something as "unfair". This particular Forum didn't define what "unfair" meant, so members frequently ended-up posting comments that breached this unwritten, ill-defined rule, or posted comments, only to find that their comments and many others alongside, were deleted in huge swathes, with no reason being given.

If you were given a temporary ban, no explanation was given. As soon as you logged-in, a screen came-up that merely stated that you had been banned until X date, but sans reason! There were no Admin to ask questions of. Their Forum Feedback Thread was filled with questions from members, new and old, going unanswered. Questions on their Facebook page also went without any response. And there was no way of actually contacting the Moderators or people who ran the Forum.

So, you have to wonder, what are forums for, if there are being run in such an awful way, and by people who don't want to let you get in touch with them?

I accept that I've never run a forum, so I don't know how time-consuming it can be. But I can make an educated guess. And I'm sure it's not all happiness and joy either. I'm sure, that running a forum, or any website, is a massive undertaking, and a forum may well be quite a thankless task. But if that is the case, then why run it?

My blog is never going to have the latest and most up-to-date information about horror films and extreme cinema. That was never my intention. That was not the kind of blog I wanted to operate. So anyone who complained that my blog would be better if I had interviews with famous people in horrordom, or reviewed the latest films, was always going to be sorely disappointed. But as I say, I never made any promises, to my readers, that my blog would be run in that manner. Firstly, I don't have the time and energy to devote to running it in that manner. Secondly, there are better, more intelligent sites than mine, that can do exactly that, and do it very well, without me trying to muscle-in on their niche section of the Web. Thirdly, that was never what my blog was meant to be in the first place. My blog, was, (and remains as being), somewhere where I post long articles about issues to do with horror and extreme cinema. Occasionally, I'll post a review, but that's not what my blog is about. It's first and foremost an article-based site!

But that is why people like you, dear reader, come back here. Clearly, you come here to read something different, and of variety. If you wanted the kind of thing that everyone else was doing, then you wouldn't be wasting your precious time, reading my articles. There'd be little point.

However, my niche, is that I am different, and that's why my blog is carving its own little niche on the World Wide Web, in the manner that it is. That is why my most popular article, is the one that no one else has attempted - a review of the controversial German shocker THE ANGEL'S MELANCHOLY - which you can read all about at  here  should you wish too. I have no intention with ever trying to compete with sites like the Internet Movie Database, or the BBC, or any of the major and long-established film-going websites. There'd be no point. I'd fail, and fail badly. But I can do something different to them, and what I can do, I like to think I do pretty well.

So, likewise, if I were to run a forum, I'd make sure from the outset what the forum is about, what the rules are, and what the forum's aim was. And if people broke the rules, then you have to explain to them why what they've done is wrong, and punish them accordingly. What you don't do, is jump down their throats within a week of joining, ranting-and-raving, that you've broken their rules, and when said member asks where they can find those rules, gets given a week-long ban, and fails to answer said member's reasonable question.

Despite what some people think, I am not a deliberately antagonistic individual. I am not someone who's aim is to piss others off, and get a rise out of them. And, I am absolutely not, someone who is full of anger and self-loathing. (And I've been called all of those things, from critics of my blog.) I am, however, someone who doesn't take things lying down. I am someone who doesn't just blindly accept everything at face-value, simply because society or life says I'm supposed to do so.

Blindly accepting everything in life, means that people will try and take advantage of you, at some point in time. It's better to be critical and question things, than to just take things simply because someone has said you must do so. It matters not if it's a parent, another adult in your life such as a teacher or professor, or more established organisations like the police and the government. As a human being, you should question why those who make the rules, make them in the manner that they do so, if their rules seem unfair, biased, or ill-defined. Don't just let these people tell you that you must accept what they tell you to do, if you don't agree with it. Ask, question, interrogate! It is your right to do so, irrespective of your age! I'm not advocating anarchy, nor am I remotely suggesting that people start ignoring all rules and regulation, as that would be a horrifically awful concept. I am simply saying, don't just accept the status quo, just because you've been told too.

Putting that aside, if a forum is not for debate, discussion and dissecting news and views, then there seems to be no point to it in my view. A forum, by its very nature, is a space where all different kinds of people can cogitate and wrangle over the bonding of a particular subject or issue - in this case a love of films. And that debate should be encouraged, even if such a debate becomes raucous or even a little vindictive at times. Stifling such talk, stifles debate, and that's not the way to get people to experience different views and opinions, because you simply end-up with one viewpoint that everyone always agrees on. And, in my view, there's no point in being somewhere where everyone agrees with you on most things. It's anodyne and intellectually stunting!

In fact, I left a long-running British entertainment forum, for that reason: if you agreed with the moral majority, then that was fine. Dare to have a different opinion, and you'd be set upon by vultures, determined to change your opinion, because your opinion was wrong, and had to be changed. I was there for over 10 years. I had a lot of time for that site. I made some good friends there. But over the years, it became more and more cold towards dissenting views. The atmosphere became charged, into an "You're either with us, or against us" mentality. What convinced me to leave, was when the whole Jimmy Savile/paedophilia scandal erupted in the latter part of 2012. Almost everyone in the discussion was of the "Well, I always felt he was a bit weird" or "My friends and I never considered Savile to be anything other than a kiddy-fiddler"! When the ITV documentary EXPOSURE: THE OTHER SIDE OF JIMMY SAVILE was broadcast in October 2012, most of the Forum members were happy to blindly accept the views from the victims featured in it, at face-value. When I dared to question them, and suggest that the victims views were not facts, but merely opinions that needed to be tested in a court of law, or under police investigation for evidence, I got set-upon and was browbeaten into changing my view, to that of everyone else: namely, that if the victims said they'd been raped, then it must have been so.

Despite repeatedly trying to elucidate my view, by saying that no viewpoint or opinion, in and of itself, makes it a hard fact, I was told I was talking out of my backside; to "wind my neck in"; and to shut my trap, because I knew nothing.

It seemed, that people I had once thought of as intelligent, sensible, rational adults, had descended into the pack-of-Wolves mentality, and you were either with the pack, or against them.

After a few weeks, and several other similar issues, I decided to voluntarily leave the Forum, and go elsewhere. Alas, what was once a very well-run, very entertaining place for me to spend my time, had now become a cold, destructive and cynical place where you could only espouse one view - the same view that everyone else held. Dissenting views were treason, and unwarranted.

So I just upped and left! Anyone who knows me, knows I go to great strengths to explain my views. I don't do "short" explanations on anything. I've got verbal diarrhoea, as they say! (Which is both funny, and probably true!)

More than ten years of my life, now came to a huge and very abrupt end.

Arguing over a subject can often bring-up views you'd never considered before. But if the only view you are allowed to hold, is the same one everyone else holds, and no one is even willing to accept that your view may be acceptable, even if it may not be true, then that's not a good place to be. It's called tolerance. You don't have to accept something, to tolerate it, and you don't need to tolerate something to accept it.

Forums now seem to be less about worthwhile, valuable and entertaining discussions, but more about cliques, and gangs, and society's, of like-minded people all thinking alike, all sounding alike, and all being of one mind. What a shame, that a tool as powerful and wonderful as the Internet, has become a way to stifle people's way-of-thinking, rather than a way to expand their mind, in as intellectually-wide way as possible.

I leave you with some choice quotes. They're both very funny, and extremely accurate too.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and so pointless, that - for some people - it is a complete substitute for life.  Andrew Brown

The Internet is the first thing that Humanity has built, that Humanity doesn't understand. The largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had. Eric Schmidt

The Internet is a shallow and unreliable electronic repository of dirty pictures, inaccurate rumours, bad spelling, and worse grammar, inhabited largely by people with no demonstrable social skills. Anonymous
Thank You for stopping by my little neck of the Internet woods! See you shortly!