10 to try: 2009's weirdest films

Dubai’s cinema schedules are a very strange affair...

The Tattooist
The Tattooist
Alone In The Dark II
Alone In The Dark II
Gnomes & Trolls: The Forest Trial
Gnomes & Trolls: The Forest Trial
Shortcut To Happiness
Shortcut To Happiness
Shark In Venice
Shark In Venice
Revolver
Revolver
Direct Contact
Direct Contact
1/7

It seems that for every modern day blockbuster in Dubai’s multiplexes, we also get a direct-to-DVD horror. Here are 10 of the stranger releases of 2009.

1 The Tattooist
Random rating: 4/5
This little gem hit the UAE’s silver screens in February, having been released in 2007 everywhere else. You could argue that it’s one of the more wildly creative horror films of recent times, but we’d ultimately win that argument by pointing out that the premise is utterly ludicrous. American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) frequents tattoo expos around the world to steal ethnic designs for his own studio. But, in Singapore, Sawyer’s sticky fingers land him in hot water when he swipes an ancient Samoan tattooing tool, unleashing an angry Samoan spirit. Obviously.

2 Alone In The Dark II
Random rating: 3/5

The first Alone In The Dark was ranked the second worst reviewed film of all time on www.rottentomatoes.com. That a follow-up even exists is either an example of hearteningly boundless optimism or extreme stupidity. The plot is some nonsense about a paranormal orphan and a band of witch hunters, but the fact that not even Tara Reid or Stephen Dorff, ‘stars’ of the original and both of threadbare CV, were willing to return for more ridicule just about says it all.

3 ARN The Knight Templar
Random rating: 4/5

This Swedish medieval epic is the most expensive movie ever made in Scandinavia. In it, nobleman Arn Magnusson is banished for having pre-marital relations with his missus, and thus must go fight the Saracens for 20 years while his lady love is sent to a convent. This is the first part of a trilogy (the sequel has already been released in Sweden, back in 2008), but whether we ever get the other installments in cinemas here is anyone’s guess.

4 Gnomes & Trolls: The Forest Trial
Random rating: 5/5

Behold our first five-star ‘random rating’, awarded solely because the gnomes in this animated tale have to tackle a clone outbreak. This obscure kids’ film is another product of Sweden, which leads us to wonder what on earth is up in Scandinavia.

5 Shortcut To Happiness
Random rating: 4/5

Three reasons Shortcut To Happiness is best avoided: the film’s investors were accused of fraud, plunging the whole production into financial disarray; it finally saw the light of day here eight years after it was originally filmed, following extensive re-editing and post-production work; director Alec Baldwin is so embarrassed by it he demanded his name be removed from the directing credit and replaced with the pseudonym Harry Kirkpatrick. If the director wants nothing to do with this Faustian tale about the devil being taken to court, then frankly, neither should we.


6 Niko And The Way To The Stars
Random rating: 4/5

Time for a Danish children’s film now, and how logical that this undeniably Christmas-themed tale should come out here in, um, April. Reindeer Niko believes his father – who he has never met – is one of the world famous heroes of Santa’s flying forces. And so, with the help of a clumsy squirrel (of course), he sets out to find his father and learn to fly. The film received additional funding from Finland, Germany and Ireland, proving that if you pool together resources from all corners of Europe, you can produce a truly notable pile of c**p.

7 Shark In Venice
Random rating: 5/5

Stephen Baldwin must really hate his brothers. Sure, Alec didn’t fair too well earlier on this list, but at least he had the sense to wash his hands of Shortcut To Happiness. Whereas Stevie lurches from one direct-to-DVD disaster to another, and leaves his name on them. Shark In Venice made it to the big screen here in June, and is probably the first time Stevie’s had his mug in a multiplex for a while. Shame it had to be in a movie about a shark living in the Grand Canal and the local Mafia’s plans to use it for crime.

8 Revolver
Random rating: 3/5

We mention this only because, even though Guy Ritchie’s underwhelming gangster flick was met with critical bile the world over (Time Out called it a ‘convoluted dead-end turd’), last month it was still released here… a whole four years after it originally came out.

9 Direct Contact
Random rating: 4/5

In cinemas here for the beginning of Ramadan, Dolph Lundgren makes a comeback – in a direct-to-DVD effort filmed in Bulgaria. Behold an extremely poor attempt at a summer action blockbuster.

10 Mercury Man
Random rating: 5/5

September saw in yet another five-star credulity-stretcher. After being stabbed with an ancient Tibetan amulet, Bangkok firefighter Chan becomes Mercury Man. But Afghan terrorist Osama bin Ali wants the amulet’s power for his plot to destroy the United States, making them mortal enemies. Wow, ridiculous and wholly inappropriate.

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