A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life

A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video

Attended Grimmfest in Manchester at The Great Northern at the Odeon in order to catch a screening of A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (2019), a promising debut feature from first time feature director and writer, Staten Cousins Roe. The film comes across as a sort of Fight Club/Thelma And Louise/Sightseers hybrid that makes a good fist of satirising self-help, whilst chronicling the psychological unravelling of its principle female lead. For a movie about serial killers featuring a number of murderous moments, it’s relatively gore-free. Still, the plot is strong, the pitch-black comedy well observed, the performances from its two leading ladies impressive and there’s some quality photography from DP James Layton on display throughout. Starring Poppy Roe and Katie Brayben.


Bit of a break from films and whatnot to get some work done in other areas. Been reading a lot, writing a bit and sleeping early. Fell off the wagon with a home viewing of Dick Tracy (1990) with The Boy. Properly cartoon strip from beginning to end and primary coloured to within an inch of its life, Beatty’s take on Chester Gould’s legendary detective works best as an accidental noir musical, featuring songs by Stephen Sondheim. Madonna is on hand as Breathless Mahoney to provide sultry, smoky vocals, alternating between song and dance routines and cliched femme-fatale, sex kitten one liners.

Beatty is fun as the detective of the piece. Chester Gould’s rogue’s gallery of grotesque villainy is a prosthetics department masterclass. Holds up well in retrospect, though the Danny Elfman score, like so many from the early nineties, plays out like an aural patchwork of Batman (1989) offcuts. Recommended, if you’ve never had the pleasure. Directed by Warren Beatty. Starring Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and Al Pacino.

Haven’t watched anything this week, which is the first time in a long time I’ve avoided any film viewing. Read a number of books. Found a £1 copy of the new Halloween (2019) on DVD in a local charity shop, which I will no doubt view at some point in the future. Done a lot of writing. Spent a lot of time reading about movies and not very much time watching any. Going to have to remedy that in the coming weeks. It’s been a seriously blood and horror free October, all things considered.

Watched Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2019) with the family. More of the same, but with less of the laughs. A fun time was had despite the slight drop in quality.

A fresh gang of All-American mid 80’s horror kids do humorous battle against mild to moderately scary CG monsters. A suburban township acts as backdrop. It’s scary enough for the offspring, though never oversteps its adventure flick boundaries. Dead of Night (1945) ventriloquist dummy, Slappy, gets more scenes. Jack Black cameos for no apparent reason whatsoever, reprising his R.L. Stine role from the superior original. The kids do well, though this is less of a frolic than its Joe Dante inspired predecessor. Overall, a fun follow-up, with the door left open for future instalments. Directed by Ari Sandel.

Followed this with Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort (1981) starring Keith Carradine and Powers Boothe.

A bunch of National Guards on maneuvers in the swamps of Louisiana wind up under fire from an irate group of locals. They stumble about. They turn on one another as the locals set about hunting them. Things get incredibly messy in slow-motion Peckinpah style. This takes less time than it takes to boil an egg. There’s plenty of wince inducing violence. There’s a lot of swampy splashing and a reasonable amount of booby traps. There’s a lot of shouting. There’s more shouting. There’s more bloody, slow motion violence. There’s more splashing. The swamp wading gets frenetic as the panic starts to escalate.

A solid ensemble performance carries the movie. Hill’s punchy direction and ability to manage the mounting sense of dread and horror is impressive. Ry Cooder’s score is an excellent addition. As thinly veiled explorations of America’s involvement in Vietnam go, it’s impressively handled b movie hokum.

A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life

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