Cambodian sci-fi set in the near future. 13-year-old Leng Heng lives in a shanty town in Phnom Penh, but is about to lose his home so the rich can develop the area. Luckily though, Leng Heng can dream about his past lives, and remembers burying a stolen golden Buddha statue somewhere close by. He enlists neighbourhood ragamuffin Srey Leak to help him find it.

This film is so impressive. It’s really hard to make technology look integrated into recognisably familiar real life, especially when showing it across the class divide. Yet Karmalink makes it look seamless.

I really loved that through the film, as they are going hither and thither, figuring out the secret of the stolen Buddha, they meet with all these neighbourhood characters, the folk that Srey trades with for spare parts, the people who can point you in the right direction for a favour, folk you barter and haggle with, so by the end you too get why Leng Heng loves his community and doesn’t want to leave it. It really builds up the human world, not just the technological one.

In the world of Karmalink, internet access now connects directly to a neural interface, which looks like a wee light up dot you stick on your forehead. When wearing you can turn on access and all wifi forms a 3D space on which information is projected. So it means Leng Heng can record his dreams, and play them back for Srey Leak so they can look for clues.

But there might be more to Leng Heng’s dreams than he realised. Could technology’s ability to record the lifetime of a mind unlock the key to the soul and reveal the mysteries of the cycle of reincarnation?

This film does a lot of difficult things very well, and makes it look easy. To mix sci-fi and spirituality; to tell a story across consciousness, dream, life and death; to show one character played by different actors through previous lifetimes but still remain crystal clear and easy to follow; to have all the young teen mystery of The Goonies while still having an ambitious sci-fi concept; they pull it off like it was nothing, when any element of which could have made the film lose its footing.

Really interesting film, able to satisfy adults looking for a sci-fi and kids looking for an adventure.

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The Masque of the Red Death

Just a great movie. Over half a century on, it still holds up. The score, the set design, the costume, the scares, Vincent Price’s performance, all fantastic.

I remember when I watched this as a wean, it always scared me the old woman rolling over all bloody, her eyes wild. It’s still ghastly now.

This edition of the film was restored and uncensored, and I wondered before seeing it if would be noticeable in a way that was distracting, but I needn’t have fussed. It was just it’s beautiful, colourful self.

A classic.

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Mekong 2030

What to say about Mekong 2030? It is beautiful. Like, gorgeous. Worth the price of the ticket alone just visually.

Mekong 2030 is 5 short stories centred on the Mekong River. Now, maybe you know more than me, but I didn’t have a scoob about the Mekong River before this movie. It’s fucking massive, stretching from Tibet in China, coming down across Vietnam, Loas, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. It is central to the lives, communities and economies of those along its waterway. As the source of life for so many people, it has also has a spiritual and cultural dimension.

The 5 stories are speculative fiction depicting the near future – 2030 – and each one comes from a filmmaker in a different country the Mekong flows through.

The first is Soul River, from Cambodia, which tells a simple fable of an indigenous hunter coming upon a buried statue of the Buddha. His community has been displaced and his village destroyed by recent flooding due to the damming of the river upstream by governments looking to turn a buck, and the subsequent ecological impact and climate change. He finds the Buddha on his people’s old hunting grounds and decides to dig it up and move it to the new village, as part of his people’s heritage. However, he is interrupted by the land’s legal owner, who is flat broke and wants to take the Buddha to sell and use the money to move away to a better life. They squabble and eventually settle on selling the Buddha and splitting the money, which the hunter justifies will help set up his people in their new village and compensate them a little for their losses. But as he and owner head downriver together, their greed grows, believing they can get a higher and higher price for the Buddha, with more and more selfish fantasies of what they will do with the money. Removing the spirituality from the land leads to ruin.

The second story is The Che Brother from Loas, which a miniature heist movie. In a world with a new airborne disease, a young and idealistic son finds out his older, rich and evil brother has kidnapped their mother in order to sell her blood to help develop a vaccine. He teams up with his sister to storm the evil brother’s palace and save their mother from his vampiric machinations.

The third is The Forgotten Voices of the Mekong from Myanmar, which tells the story of a naive village chief selling the gold mining rights to his people’s land, to the detriment of the whole community.

The fourth is The Line from Thailand, centred on a pretentious art exhibit taking place in the city on the subject of the Mekong River. In this world very divorced from the setting of the river, the artist can make a decision on absolutely nothing, and is only articulate when talking about the meaning of her video project, trying to represent time as space, distance travelled, and the duration of history as a physical measurement. Here in this minimalist gallery, in the stainless steel staff kitchenette, the sounds of the river and its jungle plays over the sight of the water in the coffeemaker and the electrically powered devices, a world away but connected.

The last is The Unseen River from Vietnam, about a young punk couple travelling to a Buddhist temple in the riverbank forest to seek a cure for his insomnia. The 100-foot-tall white marble Buddha looks placidly head and shoulders out of the canopy, but when they get up close the entrance to the temple is like a tacky, garish, neon hallucination inside. Yet the monks still live there and still dole out wisdom. Perhaps, the temple has changed in appearance, like the tattooed, pierced, and dyed punk couple, but the souls of both are the same as ever.

A really interesting film, beautifully shot and resonant with the love of place.

Luz: The Flower of Evil

Beautiful waffle.

The basic plot outline is a mad bam preacher has been kidnapping blond haired, blue-eyed boys and claiming they are Jesus returned. When they fail to live up to his Messianic standards, he declares them demons disguised as Christ, kills them and buries them in the yard.

No one in his brainwashed cult colony in the middle of shitkicker nowhere questions this, until the last one seems to bring with him back luck, which results in the destruction of the preacher’s family.

If that seems dramatic and compelling, it’s not. It’s 2 hours of beautiful shots while the voiceover goes on long, ponderous soliloquies, like, “What is man?



I’d never seen Spookies. A brilliant/awful sub-classic 80s horror that sits on the weirdness scale somewhere between Phantasm and Troll 2. Watching this will remind you just how accurate Garth Merenghi really is.

Spookies starts with two cars, one of cool kids, one of squares, getting lost and deciding to party in an old abandoned mansion. The leader of the cool kids is Duke, an Italian-American stereotype who drives a car with the vanity plate Psycho, and who dresses in a bunch of taped-together bin bags with a zip diagonally across the chest, like some kinda sash. His girlfriend is Linda with da big tiddies. They are accompanied with their comic-relief pal who has his own handpuppet he talks to. The main guy from the car full of squares is an actor who is clearly about 20 years older than the rest of the cast, yet is passed off as another teenager.

Together they face a cat-man with vampire teeth and a hook for a hand, dirt monsters that make fart noises, a Fiji mermaid Boglin, a geisha spider, the literal Grim Reaper and a bunch of zombies for good measure.

Mad as fuck.

Murder Me, Monster

Murder Me, Monster is a whole pile of nothing. The only interesting scene is when they finally find the monster and it has a prehensile dick for a tail and a fanny for a face. The main character fist fucks the monster’s face while it bums him with its tail. Nothing else happens in the movie and this scene adds nothing to actual explanation of what’s going on. Google that scene, don’t watch the film, not worth your time. 

Vampire Clay

Just out of Vampire Clay, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a Japanese movie about man-eating clay, and that’s all you really need to know. It’s got the weird silliness and creepiness of Round The Twist, with aspirations to the special effects of something like The Thing or Evil Dead. It also weirdly reminded me of 80s Doctor Who horror episodes, but I’m not totally sure why.

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