Monday, 23 December 2013

Frankenstein Unbound

"Frankenstein Unbound" (1990, Roger Corman, A Mount Company Production, 20th Century Fox) is loosely based on a novel by Brian Aldiss.

It's 2031 and Dr. Buchanan (John Hurt) has developed an Über-weapon. Unfortunately, it seems that this weapon has created a rift in time and space. He and his Artificially Intelligent car are accidentally sent back to 1817 Switzerland where he encounters Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Raúl Juliá) who has just created his monster (Nick Brimble), and Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda) who has not yet written her soon-to-be-famous book.

An interesting premise with a good cast, the film suffers from some odd acting by Brimble as the monster and a fairly confusing end fight scene.

The styling of the monster and his eventual bride (Catherine Rabett) is garish and odd, but well put together. I don't understand the hands or stitched together eyes though.

Hurt maintains his usual charm throughout the film, holding it together.

While Corman has made some infamously bad films in his time, this one is truly one I won't sit through again. Weird but not scary, goofy but not funny. It's an odd one to say the least!

[Image: 20th Century Fox]

The Pit and The Pendulum

"The Pit and The Pendulum" (1961, Roger Corman, American International Pictures) is one of my favourite Vincent Price films and is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

It's 16th century Spain and a young man, Francis Barnard (John Kerr), has travelled from England to the castle where his recently deceased sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), lived with her nobleman husband, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price). He is greeted with suspicion by the butler and urged to leave, but upon meeting Nicholas' sister Catherine (Luana Anders) he is permitted entrance to the castle.

He is at first told that Elizabeth died of an unexplained heart complication, however, as the story progresses more details of Elizabeth's sticky end are revealed. It is upon the discovery of Nicholas' father's torture chamber that the final ghastly details are slipped and we begin to find that Nicholas is becoming severely unhinged with guilt and fear. Under the guidance of his physician, Dr. Leon (Antony Carbone), Nicholas exhumes the body of Elizabeth to find that his worst fear is apparently true; she was buried alive!

Believing that he is being haunted by the vengeful spirit of Elizabeth, Nicholas slips into insanity,  rampaging terribly and using his father's torturous devices. However, all may not be as it seems...

A riveting tale and one of my favourite performances from Price as the tortured but twisted Medina. An atmosphere from the sparse, classic surroundings really lends itself to the film and the haunting ending really works.
[Image: American International Pictures]

Saint Nick

"Saint Nick" aka "Sint" (2010, Dick Maas, A-Film) is a Christmas horror film from The Netherlands about Saint Nick (or Sinterklaas in Dutch), who, the film's urban legend has it, will kidnap and kill children if there's a full moon on December 5th (the traditional present-giving day in Holland).

Sinterklaas rides a white steed, has Spanish servants known as Black Petes (or Zwarte Pieten) and arrives traditionally to Amsterdam by boat.

In "Sint" Sinterklaas (Huub Stapel) returns on the full moon as a murderous ghost-zombie, flanked by his violent Black Petes and mounted upon his angry zombie stallion. He's also keen on riding over rooftops and enjoys taking out police boats with his swift-moving ghost ship.

A fun film, with lots of gore and filthy jokes and a wonderful high speed car/horse chase. "Sint" doesn't pretend to be anything it's not and doesn't have an overly complicated plot. While Evil Santa isn't a brand new concept, "Sint" has a wonderfully different spin on it and will keep you entertained.

[Image: A-Film]

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Frankenstein (1931)

"Frankenstein" (1931, Universal Pictures, James Whale, Carl Laemmle, Jr.) is the iconic classic starring Boris Karloff in his most famous (and career making) role.

Based on the story by Mary Shelley, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye) build a man from the body parts of corpses and bring it to life using Galvanisation with electricity. The poor creature, who is not the villain of the piece really, goes on a rampage and incurs the wrath of the townspeople.

Henry's fiancé, Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), his best friend Victor (John Boles) and his old teacher, Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) attempt to help make things right before the monster goes too far.

A truly awe-inspiring piece, the famous appearance of the monster character is still striking to this day. The film itself is fun as well as pretty, with some really humorous scenes involving Henry's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr), and a plot which moves forward. The full film is only 71 minutes long but manages to fit a lot of lovely creepy scenes, German folk dancing and an angry mob vs monster battle in there!

Despite not being a gory film, it remains a steadfast piece of cinema history and a thrilling and atmospheric horror. Seeing it in the cinema today was a real experience!

[Image: Universal Pictures]

Monday, 2 December 2013


"V/H/S/2" (2013, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & Jason Eisener, The Collective, Haxan Films, Magnet Releasing) is the sequel to the 2012 found footage film.

Similar to its predecessor, the film is an anthology of short horrors, all found footage, encased within one wrap-around horror story, which is also found footage. Whilst following the same equation, it manages to separate itself from the original.

As in most anthologies, and the original film, some of the stories are hit and miss, and some of the effect qualities vary from pretty schlocky to 'oooh, that was gross'. But on the whole, I really enjoyed this one over its predecessor and thought it held together much better as a film.

I'm not a fan of found footage at the best of times, finding it more likely to give me a migraine that the chills, but V/H/S/2 does well in the format. Some of the 'shorts' could have been doing with being a little shorter though, as they began to get a bit monotonous and Go Pro cameras will probably enjoy all this advertising.

[Image: Magnet Releasing]

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Santa's Slay

"Santa's Slay" (2005, David Steiman, VIP Medienfonds 1, Media 8 Entertainment) is the horror comedy starring Bill Goldberg of WWE wrestling as Santa; the illegitimate son of Satan.

It seems Santa lost a bet and all this present-giving lark has been his punishment for the past few hundred years. But in 2005 it ended. So good ol' Saint Nick goes on a murder spree. Unfortunately for him, NicolasYuleson (Douglas Smith), Mary (Emilie de Ravin) and Nick's grandpa (Robert Culp) are out to put an end to his reign of terror...

A film that is precisely as bad as it sounds. It feels like it's purposefully trying to be bad as a nod to B-movies in general, but unfortunately just comes off as actually bad.

Some of the scenes are funny in their comic gore (the opener for instance, with James Caan is entertaining), and to give Goldberg his due, he is the best part of the film as psychotic Santa, but the thrill wears off quickly and the film is too long, too drawn out and too stupid without enough fun to save it from bargain bin badness.

Just another hammy holiday themed slaughter.

[Image: Media 8 Entertainment]

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Curse of Chucky

"Curse of Chucky" aka Child's Play 6 (2013, Don Mancini, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Universal 1440 Entertainment) is the straight to DVD, 6th instalment in the killer doll franchise.

Chucky is a marmite horror character, dividing opinion amongst genre fans for years, and I fall in the liking him camp.

It was nice to see Chucky (voiced by the wonderfully manic Brad Dourif) back to being a creepy guy again. This time he's been posted to a wheelchair bound woman (played by Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif's daughter)'s house to terrorise and slaughter her family.

The setting being a creepy old house seemed a bit odd, but somehow worked. However, the plot is painfully slow and, although it did keep some of the humour Chucky films are synonymous with, it felt a bit lost in pacing.

The enveloping plot is a little thin, I mean not as bad as Seed, but still had a kind of 'stuck on the end' feeling to it.

However, there were some good jumps, a lot of creepy nuances and tiny movements from Chucky and plenty of his gutter mouth.

The characters are interesting, if unlikeable, and the gore is fun, although it seemed very eyeball-centred.

We also get a nice cameo from his lovely wife!

Not really a welcome back to form for Chucky, and I hope it might be the last sequel, but certainly entertaining, impressively put together for a sixth anything and a step back to being a real horror again, even if he's not yet a real boy.

[Image: Universal 1440 Entertainment]

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Trick or Treat (1986)

"Trick or Treat" (1986, Charles Martin Smith, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group) is a high school outcast movie with a rock star ghost causing mayhem.

Eddie (Marc Price) is a rocker and a loser at school. He's put upon by the jocks, ignored by the girls, and is basically having a bad time.
His one release is his obsession with music and his idolisation of his favourite metal legend, devil worshipping Sammi Curr (Tony Dean Fields). Although poor Eddie's life seems shattered when he learns of his idol's death in a fire.

In his despair, he visits his radio DJ friend, Nuke (Gene Simmons. Yes, Gene Simmons!), who gives him a special gift; the last live record recorded by Sammi. What a nice dude!

Eddie skips off home to first go through some agonising ritual humiliation at the hands of his high school bullies, and then to listen to his new single.

As it would turn out, ol' Sammi is somehow haunting the record, and is able to communicate and later manifest through the powers of awesome and studded leather catsuits. However, it would seem that Sammi's not just out to avenge Eddie's bullies, or cause metal music havok but also to just kill people for fun. Eddie vows to put a stop to it, but how can he, now that the song is being played at the High School Halloween dance?!

A bit of fun with appearances from Ozzy Osbourne and the aforementioned role by Simmons. There's lots of electric shocks, fun 80s metal riffs, bad one liners and backwards messages. If you don't like this film, you're just not one of my kind of people, I'm afraid! Cheesy, trashy fun for the win!

[Image: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group]

Monday, 25 November 2013

Red: Werewolf Hunter

"Red: Werewolf Hunter" (2010, Sheldon Wilson,Chesler/Perlmutter Productions) is a werewolf film with a little twist of Little Red Riding Hood thrown in there. It's also a made-for-TV film, so don't go in expecting any high calibre writing.

The lovely Felicia Day plays Virginia 'Red' Sullivan, a descendant of Little Red Riding Hood and a werewolf hunter. It seems the wolf that ate up Grandma in the fairytale was actually a lycanthrope and now it is the destiny of Little Red's descendants to maintain order with the wolf's kin.

Unfortunately, it would seem Red is in love with Nathan (Kavan Smith) and has accidentally brought him home to be turned. Can she and her family save her fiancé? And even if they do, can he deal with a werewolf hunting, kick ass ginger chick for his bride to be? And, even if he can, does she really want this jerky numbskull for a husband anyway?!

Certainly an interesting angle, the film is let down with the usual bad scripting that goes hand in hand with any Syfy Production, and some bad acting. Although, I think one is maybe the symptom of the other...

With some very amicable werewolf effects, the monster element certainly pleases in that lovely cheesy TV horror kind of way, but some clumsy editing, hit and miss soundtracks and boring character-building dialogue kind of detract from what could have been a perfectly fine mediocre film about an attractive red head in a leather jacket killing rampaging migrant werewolves...

[Image: Syfy]


Sunday, 17 November 2013

El Chupacabra

"El Chupacabra" (2003, York Pictures, Inc., Urban Girl Productions, Hard Gore, Paul Wynne, Brennon Jones) is a low budget monster movie about the legendary blood sucking goat killer, El Chupacabra.

When a secret operation run by  Dr. Goodspeed (Anthony "Treach" Criss) accidentally sets the blood thirsty creature loose it is up to an animal control officer (Eric Alegria) who wants to be a cop, a fact they stress... a lot...., and the author of an unpopular book about the creature itself, (Elina Madison), to try to capture it. Unfortunately a rogue detective (Jerry Rodrguez) and his sycophantic partner are also on the scene.

Terrible acting, a plot consisting entirely of holes and some amateurish camera work is everything you expect from a low budget bargain-bin horror... However, this particular film is also boring.

Not clever and certainly not something I'd watch again, I wouldn't even recommend this as a film for a bad movie night.

The only positives the film offers are that the animal control officer is good looking and the creature make up is quite good for low budget...

[Image: York Pictures, Inc.]

Friday, 15 November 2013

House 2: The Second Story

"House 2: The Second Story" (1987, Ethan Wiley, New World Pictures). Is a sci-fi, Western, Haunted House film that has pretty much nothing to do with "House".

When Jesse (Arye Gross) and Kate (Lar Park Lincoln) move into an old mansion belonging to Jesse's family they, understandably, don't expect to firstly be joined by Jesse's friend Charlie (Jonathan Stark) and his girlfriend Lana (Amy Yasbeck), and then later by his dead, zombified great-great grandfather, Gramps (Royal Dano).

Soon Jesse and Charlie find themselves on the quest to find a mysterious Aztec crystal skull to restore his undead relative. Their adventures include battling strange beasts, facing off against Gramps' old friend-turned-bitter-enemy, Slim Razor (Dean Cleverdon), and babysitting pterodactyls...

Luckily for them an Adventurous electrician (John Ratzenberger) shows up to help out...

It's all very weird and hectic... Like a Western Sci-fi adventure (but nothing like 'Firefly'). The Aztec style house interior is really quite beautiful and the cheesy one-liner's and banter with Gramps is hokey and entertaining. There's a lot of things happening and a lot of jumping through vortexes into other times, but on the whole it is a batshit crazy and completely goofy experience. Not to be taken seriously....

[Image: New World Pictures]

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Halloween 2

"Halloween 2" (1981, Rick Rosenthal, Universal Pictures, Dino De Laurentiis Corporation) is the sequel to John Carpenter's masterpiece.

Michael Myers (Dick Warlock), the unstoppable madman, is still home for his favourite holiday and he's still hell-bent on tormenting Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and other teens in Haddonfield. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is still tailing him. And, wouldn't you know it, everyone is still pretty unprepared for the events, despite a whole load of murders in town already...

A pretty slow film, which holds none of the artful suspense of its predecessor but makes up for it with a lot more gore/violence, it serves as an unrequired and uninspired sequel to a good film. Rather than adding to the plot, it instead imitates its own imitators.

Not my favourite Halloween film. But still an interesting piece of cinema in respect to styling.

[Image: Universal Pictures]

The Witches of Eastwick

"The Witches of Eastwick" (1987, George Miller, Guber-Peters Company, Warner Bros.) is a black comedy film about witches and The Beast, based on the book by John Updike.

Three bored women (Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer) are going about their unsatisfying lives in Eastwick, a small American town. Unaware that they are endowed with mystical powers, the three women accidentally invoke the powers that be and conjure up Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson).

Van Horne is an oddly charismatic sleaze ball and despite their better judgement, the women start spending time with him and honing their powers. Unfortunately, rumours begin to spread about the town, helped by local gossip, Felicia (Veronica Cartwright), who begins to lose her mind due to the presence of Van Horne.

The women try to rid their lives of him, only to find him not so easily gotten rid of!

A fun flick, it certainly dishes up the crazy with Nicholson at his usual best and Cartwright spewing cherry pips everywhere.

It's a battle of the sexes and a product of its time. While it's certainly not the best witch comedy out there, it's worth watching.

[Image: Warner Bros.]

Monday, 28 October 2013

Shadow of the Vampire

"Shadow of the Vampire" (2000, E. Elias Merhige, Saturn Films, Long Shot Films, BBC Films, Delux Productions) is an extraordinary film about the filming of the classic 1922 masterpiece, "Nosferatu", but it's no documentary by any means.

From the slow process of filming with the old hand turning equipment to the period dress the feeling of making this film is recreated elegantly. Humorous in places and excellently put together, "Shadow of the Vampire" is quite a captivating piece.

While filming the famously unauthorised version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", Frederich Wilhelm Murnau (John Malkovich) is obsessively creating his masterpiece. He hires in an unheard of method actor, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), who refuses to 'come out of character'.

The other crew members are wary of Schreck, who is altogether a weird guy. But things become increasingly more suspicious that Schreck may be something other than human!

A truly eccentric film, I loved it. Dafoe plays the hammy horror icon to a tee and you can always rely on John Malkovich to bring some weird in. While not a scary film, it's an intriguing concept and a fun view for any fans of artsy cinema.

[Image: Saturn Films]

Saturday, 26 October 2013


"Misery" (1990, Rob Reiner, Castle Rock Entertainment, Nelson Entertainment, Columbia Pictures) is the film adaptation of Stephen King's fantastic novel "Misery".

I hold this film in high esteem because it captures a lot of the themes from the novel and the changes it makes are beneficial for the on-screen adaptation. It doesn't just chop and change features for laughs and creates a few levels of intrigue and dread without trying to go too deep.

The casting is also flawless with James Caan as author turned captive, Paul Sheldon and Kathy Bates frankly makes the role of crazy 'number one fan', Annie Wilkes, her own. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part. She is truly terrifying.

In case you've been under a rock since 1987 (when the book was published), the plot is simple: Paul Sheldon is the author of a successful fictional series called "Misery" (named after his title character). He is caught in a terrible car accident, and is horribly hurt. The car crash scene is very arty with the music. Love it.

He wakes to find that he's been saved by Annie Wilkes, a strange lady who proclaims to be his number one fan and a nurse. She nurses him back to health, but upon reading his pre-copy of his latest novel and discovering that he intends to kill off her beloved Misery, Annie gets nasty. Real nasty.

An excellent study of jailer and captive behaviour and a tense mental game of wits, I'd rate this film as one of my favourite King adaptations as well as an excellent psychological thriller.

While there are certainly 'eep' moments, this film is not a gory film or a jump-infested spook fest. It's a slow building dread, which eventually unleashes some real mental scares.

Also, there's a pretty epic fight scene that still makes my eyes water at a certain part!

[Image: Castle Rock Entertainment]


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Stage Fright

"Stage Fright" aka "Stage Fright: Aquarius" aka "Deliria" (1987, Michele Soavi, DMV Distribuzione Filmirage) is an Italian/American slasher film set in a theatre.

 A troupe of actors are rehearsing a crappy, artsy musical about a masked killer called the Night Owl, when some real killings are discovered to have taken place. Could it be that a real Night Owl has returned to roost, claimed his mask and is on the hunt for more prey? Too many bird of prey jokes? Yes? Who will survive now that they are all locked inside with the killer?

A fun film, Soavi enjoys tricking his audience with misleading and cleverly panned shots. The characters are surprisingly well rounded despite a lack of deep back story. And this was Soavi's debut as a director, so I think he did rather well.

Our killer is wonderfully menacing with an extravagant mask and a dancer's style. He's also willing to use different tools from drills to axes. You've got to respect a man who can adapt to a situation.

Not the most technically advanced film in the world, but definitely fun, and with a distinctive feeling of Italian horror cinema, even when it was beginning to wane as a genre.

It's full of plot holes, some bad dubbing and some extremely B-movie acting, too.

[Image: DMV Distribuzione Filmirage]

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974, Tobe Hooper, Vortex, Bryanston Pictures) is the original of what was to become a franchise with the memorable gruesomely masked, chainsaw wielding killer, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen).

Sally (Marilyn Burns) and her wheelchair bound brother, Franklin (Paul A. Partain), are travelling in a camper van with their friends, Jerry (Allen Danziger), Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Terri McMinn) on a road trip to their old family home in the country. They hear of some odd goings on at the graveyard, pick up a psychotic hitch hiker, get some odd chat (and barbecue) from a local petrol station and eventually make it to the deserted house. Only they find that this isn't the end of their troubles as their neighbours would like to have them for dinner...

 This much copied Tobe Hooper classic is still standing strong to this day with some truly chilling scenes and disturbed themes. Although by today's gruesome standards it's not as splatter happy as it was back in the 70s, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" still manages to make audiences fidget uncomfortably in their seats. And it's still disturbing.

I like a Slasher film as much as the next horror nut, and Leatherface and his family are a truly scary bunch. The depravity of the film makes it one I don't watch too often, but when I do I have to admit that it is a creepy and unnerving film which, regardless of its age, still scares me on a base level.

[Image: Bryanston Pictures]

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Hills Run Red

"The Hills Run Red" (2009, Dave Parker, Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Premiere) is a twisted slasher with a bit of a sick dig at its fans and fans of horror in general.

Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) is an obsessive horror fan. In fact he's obsessed with one particular horror film; a 'lost' film by a director, Concannon (William Sadler), who swiftly disappeared after making it.

In an attempt to find the missing footage and put a rest to his obsession, Tyler, along with his two friends, Serina (Janet Montgomery) and Lalo (Alex Wyndham), track down the director's stripper, junkie daughter, Alexa (Sophie Monk) and head out to the site of the film. All the while filming themselves and laughing merrily about how this is just like the start to... well, a horror film!

And wouldn't you know it? Things go awry. Very awry.

Bending the rules and breaking the fourth wall creatively, this film manages to be a gore soaked torture and mystery film in the way that the first "Saw" movie managed, but perhaps with less brains behind the plot.

Aside from the viewer prodding plot, there are some very good tropes in this film. The masked killer, Babyface (portrayed by Raicho Vasilev, Danko Jordanov and Itai Diakov), is a good one. The legend behind him isn't too important, but the disturbing physical appearance of our killer coupled with the 'reality' we discover is truly grotesque. The mask itself is beyond creepy and he also manages to effect that hulking but sad character that's often associated with masked slasher villains. He also threatens people by pointing a gun at his own head which makes.... what kind of sense?! But somehow works...

Our director is wonderfully psychotic. And that's as much as I'll say about him.

While I didn't feel particularly vested in the characters, the end scenes are really horrific and I have to hand it to the writers, this is a twisted little plot.

It's worth a see for some good kill scenes, a lot of gore, a bit of mystery and an incredible slasher mask!

[Image: Dark Castle Entertainment]

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


"Hardware" (1990, Richard Stanley, British Satellite Broadcasting, Unlimited Palace Productions, Palace Pictures, Miramax) is a post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi film.

The world is a mess and a war is raging. During the Christmas ceasefire, "Hard Mo" Baxter (Dylan McDermott) and his buddy Shades (John Lynch) are visiting junk dealer, Alvy (Mark Northover), when a nomad walks in with some robot body parts.

Hard Mo, being a hard-ass and all, takes these parts to his recluse girlfriend, Jill (Stacey Travis). Little does he suspect that this robot will come back to life and rebuild itself before trying to take out every human it sees.

The plot is ok and the visuals are fun. There's even some good action sequences. My main issue with the film as a whole was that I was bored. It's a shame I feel that way because a lot of people rave about it. Perhaps they see something I didn't. But I was excited to see this film in the line-up at the "All Night Horror Madness" night and by far I thought of it as the worst entry of the night by the end.

Slow and not extremely engaging , the film does benefit from good visuals and cameos from Iggy Pop (vocal) and Lemmy.

[Image: British Satellite Broadcasting]

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


"Frankenhooker" (1998, Frank Henenlotter, Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment) is exactly what you think it is.

Another "All Night Horror Madness" night at the Grosvenor cinema, another gem of a horror comedy.

Completely inane, but still funny. We meet Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) who is a science geek electrician meddling with biology (despite being thrown out of medical school) and his 'tubby' (read wearing an unconvincing fat suit) but hot girlfriend, Elizabeth (Patty Mullen). Unfortunately, at her dad's birthday party, Elizabeth is killed by a freak lawnmower accident which completely dismembers her.

Going further round the twist, Franken concocts a plan to rebuild his bride to be using body parts from other women. Naturally, the best way to get body parts is to kill a bunch of hookers. I'm sure he wouldn't get any STD's off of his new girlfriend now....

The humour is very B-movie and the gore is over the top and silly (just as it should be!).

Lorinz's mad scientist is great fun and who doesn't love an exploding hooker mannequin? But Patty Mullen steals the show with her hilarious undead facial expressions and monster act!

Just a bit of fun!

[Image: Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment]

The Wax Mask

"The Wax Mask" (1997, Sergio Stivaletti, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Cine 2000, Mediaset, France Film International, Italian International Film) is a wax museum film.

Fulci died making this film and so I'm not 100% sure how true the end result is to his script, but it is indeed a lot of fun to watch.

With a kind of incidental Steampunk style (incidental because, as far as I'm aware, there was no such genre as 'Steampunk' in 1997), The Wax Mask tells a tale set in 1900s Paris. We see a couple brutally (and hilariously) butchered by a man with a clawed metal hand. We also see a young girl, their daughter, cowering under the bed.

Years pass and said young girl is now a costume maker working at a wax museum. The museum has gained some disrepute due to its gory collection of sculptures and, after the death of a young man who was dared to stay the night, the museum becomes more and more creepy.

It's fun, gothic and a little gory. The effects are nice and the props are awesome. The story is a little average as far as wax museum films go, but there's a nice added Frankenstein element which is fun. 

I'm not a huge fan of the ending, however, which seemed a little diverted from the rest of the film's styling, and I think I prefer the Italian version with the subtitles to the dubbed English, which can make the acting seem a little odd.

All in all, worth your while, but not a great representation of Argento, Fulci or Stivaletti.

[Image: Cine 2000]

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Cradle of Fear

"Cradle of Fear" (2001, Alex Chandon, Dani Filth, Pragmatic Pictures ltd.) is a British splatter film starring Dani Filth (Dani Davey) from Cradle of Filth, a band I owe much of my teen years to spent listening to their dark, angry songs. Good times. In fact I still like them. Please don't judge me.

The film is a horror anthology of sorts, similar in layout to "Trick 'r Treat" in that there is an encompassing story, all tales are interlinked, but unlike other anthologies there isn't a narrator.

A series of gruesome murders are seen around town, each in itself a tale. Our encompassing plot follows Detective Inspector Neilson (Edmund Dehn), a troubled and slightly creepy man, as he investigates the murders and attempts to piece things together. Soon he discovers that these new killings are linked to an old case of his, and also his own life.

Gothed up and chalk full of drugs and alcohol the shorts are OTT gory and a little silly. There's also a lot of flashing lights and, of course, some Cradle of Filth tunes. It's certainly not everyone's cup of... whatever, and it's not particularly creative or fantastically pieced together, but it's a mildly entertaining 2 hours of gore, nudity and hammy acting.

Some interesting things are touched on in the plot (including some usual tropes) such as Satanism, goth sub-culture, child abuse, rape, insanity, drugs, demons, body issues, sex, love, murder, obsession and online snuff porn. Pretty much what you would expect from this film! But it's certainly not cerebral viewing and definitely lives on my 'switch-off-brain-gore-fest' shelf.

[Image: Pragmatic Pictures, ltd.]

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Bat

"The Bat" (1959, Crane Wilbur, Allied Artists) is a film adaptation of a stage play by the same name. This was not the first film version of the script, but it's the only one I've seen. Mainly because it stars Vincent Price.

Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead) is a leading female crime novelist whose mansion house is in a town currently being stalked by a masked killer with blade-tipped fingers known as The Bat, who is on the hunt for a large sum of money which is hidden somewhere nearby.

Her housemaid (or possible lesbian lover, I've not decided), Lizzy (Lenita Lane), is bitten by a real bat one night, and so they call out Dr. Malcolm Wells (Vincent Price).

But when The Bat is seen snooping around the house, the mystery novelist is having to unravel a real mystery for a change as she and the police try to decipher who is behind the murders and why, before it is too late!

The Bat himself is actually quite creepy with his faceless mask and his Freddy Krueger-esque gloves. Of course, he's not scary in comparison to some of the more modern villains, but his sneaky antics are fun to watch.

Old fashioned, creaky and fun (with some very tame humour) I enjoy this mystery movie for what it is. It remains one of my favourite Price films as his delivery is great and he remains suspicious and suave but not hokey throughout. Although, I hasten to add, he does not feature as much as the poster would have you believe!

[Image: Allied Artists]

Thursday, 3 October 2013

End Call

"End Call" (2008, Kiyoshi Yamamoto, Monte Cristo Entertainment, T.O. Entertainment) is a Japanese tech horror. 

A group of schoolgirls come across the Devil's phone number and discover if you phone it at midnight he will grant your greatest wish at the cost of taking the duration of your call from your lifespan. Naturally, he's like a crappy text message Wishmaster, so nothing you wish for ever works out well for you.

The film is not in chronological order and jumps back and forth a lot. It's also not terribly scary, which I was disappointed with considering how freaky some other larger budget J-Horror films are!

The action scenes are few and far between and there's a lot of quiet dialogue. 

One thing the Devil also seems to excel at is running up a large phone bill for his callers, so one girl resorts to becoming a hooker to pay her bill...

Most of the girls' problems are trivial teen girl issues. "Oh, I don't have a boyfriend.", "I'm not popular" and such, although there was a chilling scene with an abusive father that gets his comeuppance. 

Quite an average film and not the best introduction to J-Horror, so if you're new to the genre I recommend watching "One Missed Call" or "The Ring" instead (and no, I don't mean the American remakes!).

Sometimes a film's obscurity is for a reason...

 [Image: T.O. Entertainment]


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Munsters' Revenge

"The Munsters' Revenge" (1981, Universal Studios) is the made-for-TV film with original cast members Herman (Fred Gwynne), Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) and Grandpa (Al Lewis) Munster.

The Munster family have been immortalised as waxworks in a local museum. Unfortunately, these wax models are actually evil robots who wreak havoc all over town, resulting in Herman and Grandpa being blamed for the crimes and thrown in prison!

Can they clear their names before the big Munster Halloween party?

A fun little film which doesn't deviate from the characters, humour or styling of the original show and kept me suitably entertained on a long train ride.

[Image: Universal Studios]

Monday, 30 September 2013

28 Weeks Later

"28 Weeks Later" (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Fox Atomic, DNA Films, UK Film Council) is the sequel to the British zombie blockbuster, "28 Days Later".

Following the usual 'zombie' outbreak sequel formula we have a much bigger story and a lot more to deal with after the outbreak is now supposedly under control. This time we follow a small family, that is becoming increasingly smaller as the plot develops...

Sadly for the family, and also for the rest of the 'safe zone', the mother and son have some mutated genes which make them carriers of the Rage virus so... yeah... things escalate... quickly.

Much gorier and faster than the previous film it also has a level of grim that manages to be innovative in the bloated market of traumatic zombie horrors. The main issue is that it lacks its specifically British identity and becomes just another action zombie film.

However, the acting is great, there are a few good jump scares and the plot is nicely paced. I also enjoyed the presence of Robert Carlyle and Jeremy Renner.

[Image: UK Film Council]

Tales From the Crypt: Ritual

"Tales From the Crypt: Ritual" (2002, Avi Nesher, RKO Pictures, Silver Pictures, Dimension Films) is actually the third full length film based on the fondly remembered series, “Tales From the Crypt”. Sadly, due to some executive decisions relating to popularity of these films (or lack thereof), there is no sign or mention of the Crypt Keeper himself.

We meet Dr. Alice Dodgson (Jennifer Grey) who has had her medical licence revoked for using medication which has not been approved by the medical board and killing a patient. She had some noble reasons though, so we’re supposed to forgive her malpractice without question...

Anyway, long story short she secures herself a position in Jamaica treating one patient, rich boy Wesley Claybourne (Daniel Lapaine), who believes he is under a Voodoo curse.

She makes friends with a feisty young woman with loose morals, Caro (Kristen Wilson, and makes friendly acquaintances with resident vet and filthy older man, Matthew (Tim Curry) and driver J.B. (Gabriel Casseus).

More of a mystery film than a horror, I’d hasten to add that the only action is all in our characters’ heads in the form of hallucination and even then the plot and action are slow until the end when a delightful “Crypt” twist is added. All that was missing was The Keepers gleeful laughter there.

The redeeming qualities are, of course, the presence of Tim Curry, who is grossly underutilised in the script, and Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey,  as well as harking back to the voodoo zombie classics of old (“I Walked With a Zombie” and “White Zombie” for example), however, the execution is not up to scratch resulting in a shoddy knock-off rather than a clever homage.

Not one I’d willingly sit through again.

[Image: Dimension Films]

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Horror Express

"The Horror Express" aka "Pánico en el Transiberiano" or "Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express" (1972, Gene Martín, Scotia International Productions, Scotia Barber Distributions, Ltd.) is a Spanish and British horror about the panic caused on a train when an anthropologist's scientific discovery, an ape-like man, comes back to life and wreaks unnatural havoc.

I picked this film up at Comic-Con thinking it would be cheesy and fun and I wasn't disappointed!

Christopher Lee gives an intense performance as the anthropologist responsible for the discovery and Peter Cushing plays his mild-mannered rival wonderfully.

The action is daft, if slightly over explained, and helps recreate the fun Hammer-esque feel. An ape man with super powers, which allow him to drink the essence of and then become anyone, is running around loose on an old fashioned train and then a group of Cossacks, lead by Kojak himself, Telly Savalas turn up to join the party.

It's like a budget version of "The Thing" but on a train and with some of the best horror icons hamming it up with glee. What is not to like?

[Image: Scotia Barber Distributions, Ltd]

Saturday, 21 September 2013


"Waxwork" (1988, Anthony Hickox, Vestron Pictures) is a horror comedy about a waxwork museum which appears out of nowhere and who's morbid exhibits come to life to claim any visitors as new additions to the museum.

A group of unsuspecting teens are invited to the museum and find out the truth too late. Or is it?

Entertainingly low budget and very 80s, "Waxwork" takes inspiration from 1933s "Mystery of the Wax Museum" and 1953s "House of Wax", but with a more supernatural twist.

The cheesy charm of this film and the fact that it has both Patrick Macnee (Steed from "The Avengers") and Zach Galligan (of "Gremlins" fame) in it pleases me.

While it's not very creative and has its dull moments, the hilarious action scenes keep any B-movie fans engaged. Such examples include death by champagne bottle, a terribly English beheading and a battle between the monsters, their voodoo priest and man. All supplied with gloriously low budget gore and effects.

It's silly and fun, but nothing particularly special.

[Image: Vestron Pictures]

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Insidious Chapter 2

"Insidious Chapter 2" (2013, James Wan, IM Global, Entertainment One, Blumhouse Productions, Film Disctrict, Stage 6 Films) is the sequel to Insidious (2011).

We continue the Lambert family's story, both after and prior to the first film's events with Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson and Barbara Hershey reprising their roles.

It would seem that the Lamberts all share some tenuous links to the ghostly realm, given the events of this film. 

A completely unnecessary sequel to a film that, I felt, lost its way in the last hour. Insidious 2 seems more inadvertently funny than scary. Acting more as a filler to the missing information from the first film, the plot seems cobbled together and disjointed. It almost feels as if someone had written a Fanfic of Insidious and then they decided to turn that into the sequel.

That's not to say that it's not entertaining. The opening sequence is great fun, the retro credits and legend are excellent! The effects are good and the acting is good. There's even a couple of effective jump scares.

The main problem is the jumpy-ass plot and the lack of good scares. In fact the only tense scene for me involved the baby and the best scene was the 'little girl' ghost who has an excellent parting line to our ghost hunting comedy duo, Specs and Tucker.

The explanation of the history of the ghost was convoluted and didn't add much to the plot, and aside from some entertaining nudge-nudge-wink-wink link ups between the first film and internal scenes, it all played out a little flat.

Not to mention the Scooby Doo ending which was worthy of the 'Ghostfacers' from Supernatural!

Fun but not in the horror way. If you want to enjoy some fresh work from James Wan watch "The Conjuring" instead.

[Image: Blumhouse Productions, Film Disctrict, Stage 6 Films]

Saturday, 14 September 2013


"Dysmorphia" (2012, Andy Stewart, Stay Curious Productions, Koozlick Media) is an award winning horror short from the talented Scottish horror journalist and director, Andy Stewart, which both satisfies the viewer with a horror thrill and theatrically explores some mental health themes.

Our main character (Gordon Holliday) narrates his thoughts as he sits at a table with a bag. We slowly come to realise his horrific intentions (if you haven't guessed from the name of the film) as he reveals his thoughts and also the contents of the bag. Tools, towels, something to bite on...

Dark and artistic, but not in that annoying art student way, this film is clever. While we enjoy some  gore and some very smart cut away scenes which let your imagination go wild and we hear a lot of deliciously sickening sounds, we're never given reason to begin thinking on what the props and effects are. This is the sign of a good film for me. If I start to imagine how they put it together while I'm watching it, it usually means I'm bored of the scene. It all seemed very real and very methodical.

The tension is high and the viewer is with the character through the whole ordeal. While feeling  nauseous, the film keeps your attention rapt. I could barely look away from the screen while also wishing he would just do it quickly.

The acting is intense and very effective, conveying a lot of depth in such a short run time.

The effects are fantastic and have been recognised as such.

The film has a very dark kick of an ending too!

Excellently executed and a fantastic and simple plot. You might want to leave your lunch until later before watching it, though!

If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, you can watch it here:You Tube Video

I'm now looking forward to Andy's newest film, "Split".

[Image: Stay Curious Productions]

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Blair Witch Project

"The Blair Witch Project" (1999, Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick, Haxan Films, Artisan Entertainment) is one of the first Found Footage horror films I'd ever heard of.

As a teen I thought this film was scary. As an adult I'd say it was more atmospheric and some very good, realistic acting. The dialogue seems genuine and so doesn't have the forced feeling that some modern attempts have achieved.

Three students go missing in the woods while filming a documentary about local legend, The Blair Witch. All that was found was their footage.

The filming is very handycam, but not as purposefully shaky as some of the more modern attempts. The characters are surprisingly well rounded too, considering that we only really know them from their banter amongst themselves.

When the scary stuff starts it's not as graphic or as scary as we're used to, but the build up is actually quite impressive, propelled by Heather Donahue's tearful performance as she breaks down.

The main issue, despite the lack of actual physical scares, is that we are watching hand-filmed footage and so do not see much straight, head on action. While this can be used to affect (See "Rec"), it can be disorientating. Mainly I found it distracting. I'm not a huge fan of found footage.

However, the creep factor is definitely there and although it won't have you chewing the cushions, if you turn the lights out it will definitely please the casual horror film viewer.

I just laugh to think of all the hype at school about how it was all 'real'.

[Image: Haxan Films]

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Silent Hill Revelation

"Silent Hill Revelation" (2012, Michael J. Bassett, Open Road Films, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures) is the sequel to "Silent Hill" (2006) also based on the famous horror game franchise from Konami. This time taking plot from the third game. It was also made for 3D, so be prepared for some obvious jump attempts aimed 'through' the camera...

Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) discovers that she is actually Sharon, the little girl from the first film, on her 18th birthday. She also discovers that she and her dad (Sean Bean) are not actually on the run from the police, but from agents from Silent Hill. 

Her discovery, turning of age and just general unluckiness cause her to be dragged back into the nightmare realm where Silent Hill is located, where she must face off against not only the many monstrous creatures of the darkness, and the backwards townsfolk lead by Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss, yes Trinity from The Matrix), but also her darker half (and kind of real mother), Alessa (Erin Pitt).

A visually entertaining film we are introduced to some new as well as reintroduced to old favourite monsters. The props, SFX and sets are good, despite a slightly more meagre budget than the original film. I particularly enjoyed the creepy spider mannequin thing.

Clemens delivers a strong but somewhat dull female lead, not helped by a monumentally weak plot. Basically, Silent Hill stood strong enough on its own, there was no need for a sequel! 

The action is good but not scary and no sense of tension is recaptured from the first film. The scene with my favourite monsters, creepy-blind-ballet-nurses-of-death,  was a bit of a disappointment after the first film where they creeped me out well and good.

All in all, it wasn't a great film and played out more like an afterthought or like a dull fanfic.

[Image: Open Road Films]


Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Bride of Frankenstein

"The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935, Universal Pictures, James Whale) is the first sequel to Universal's famous horror classic, "Frankenstein" (1931).

Following on from the first film's events, this sequel ties in well with the original, adds to the original plot and also includes an introduction from our author, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester), who is telling the story to Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) and Percy Byssche Shelley (Douglas Walton).

The monster, as in the first film, is memorably portrayed by the wonderful Boris Karloff, who has become more monstrous since the events of the first film and is adding to his body count (and also his vocabulary).

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is approached by the strange Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), a man with many strange experiments of his own to his credit, to continue in his experiments and create a female creature to be the mate of the monster. With some convincing and blackmailing, Frankenstein agrees.

A classic film with the ever iconic Bride having huge cult status to this day (despite her very small actual on-screen time!), "The Bride of Frankenstein" remains as a favourite.

The acting is excellent, especially that of Karloff who still manages to create a sad and pitiful creature who is full of uncertainty, hatred and loathing but also with a yearning for acceptance and love. The scenes with the old blind man in the woods are touching to this day!

Other characters are also surprisingly well-rounded for a 30's film. A favourite has to be Minnie (Una O'Connor), the housekeeper and maid to Frankenstein and Elizabeth, who provides some wonderful comic moments.

A real Hollywood silver-screen classic which continues to charm audiences today with dramatic sound, scenery and storytelling. A fabulous piece of cinema history.

[Image: Universal Pictures]


Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Tattooist

"The Tattooist" (2007, Peter Burger, Buena Vista International) is a supernatural horror about a tattoo artist.

Jake (Jason Behr) is a trendy tattoo artist who likes to explore tribal designs in his work. After witnessing a strange, ritualistic Samoan tattoo being performed at a convention, he feels compelled to steal the ritual tool and begin to explore the designs and traditions himself.

Unfortunately, he's taken more than he intended and soon finds that he is being haunted by a murderous force which can spread through his tattoo designs from the tool...

A film with an adventurous storyline and some potential, but to be honest, it's not compelling enough. A little stilted, and some parts are just all explanation of the traditions so that the audience can understand, which kind of loses something for the pace.

The special effects are surprisingly good for the budget, but they are ludicrous! There's also a little kid who can speak to spirits... but only when the music is loud and obnoxious in a speeding car... Of course! 

The characters are our usual forgettable horror fodder, the spirit is quite creepy but it seemed like he'd been added in as an afterthought rather than as an organic baddy, and our protagonist is dull and two dimensional...

Interesting concept but, on the whole, not a good film and not a good horror film.

[Image: Buena Vista International]

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


"Pontypool" (2009, Bruce McDonald, Maple Pictures) is a psychological thriller but it has a few splashes of gore too. It's also quite low budget, but I wouldn't have guessed!

It's Valentine's Day and ex- 'shock jock' radio DJ turned local radio host, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), is on his way to the station in the small town of Pontypool, Canada for his shift during the wee hours when he has an encounter with a strange murmuring woman. But that's not the strangest to happen to him that morning, when reports begin to roll in of strange and violent happenings in the town...

A clever film which feels bigger than it is thanks to clever camera work, good sound, nice effects, wit and humour and excellent acting.

Our charismatically grumpy protagonist keeps the plot going forward and I enjoyed his relationship with the station manageress Sydney (Lisa Houle) and technical assistant Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly).

The film is surprisingly engaging considering that there is very little to see (they barely leave the station) and a good sense of dread and claustrophobia builds up as the audience learns of the circumstances along with the characters.

The actual situation seems outlandish and not unlike something from Doctor Who, but who could possibly complain about that?!

Whilst it's not the most realistic thing to ever have a film made about it, it's certainly worthy of a few chills and manages to keep itself clear of the 'just another zombie movie' tag a film like this could so easily have been placed under.

An unsettling film which had me enthralled from the beginning, I found it innovative and intelligently pieced together. I'm not sure about the bit after the credits though...

[Image: Maple Pictures]

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Child's Play 3

"Child's Play 3" (1991, Jack Bender, Universal Pictures) is the third movie starring Chucky the killer doll (again voiced by the talented Brad Dourif).

Set several years after the second film's events (yet only released a year later), teenager Andy (Justin Whalin) has now started military school (it seems to be the thing for young, troubled, disowned or orphaned movie teens - see "The Omen 2"). Although his past has not forgotten him he finds, when Chucky turns up in yet another brand new Good Guys body, thanks again to that pesky manufacturer for continuing to reboot the same disastrous doll over and over again!

However, after engaging his brain this time, it dawns on Chucky that he doesn't have to target only Andy and despite the fact that he's a fully grown man in a doll's body, he seems to have a creepy penchant for child victims, and so instead targets a little kid called Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers).

A pretty dull film up until the climatic ending, this sequel is really an exercise in bullying in military academies.

A funfair, however, adds a little bit of excitement and a good setting for Chucky's battle against Andy on familiar grounds.

The props & animation are, as usual, excellent.  And the acting is all pretty good, but a dull script and schlocky one-liners (even for a Chucky movie) mar the film.

In my opinion, the weaker of the sequels, and yes that does include "Seed of Chucky"...

[Image: Universal Pictures]

Child's Play 2

"Child's Play 2" (1990, John Lafia, Universal Studios) is the sequel to 1988's murderous doll movie, "Child's Play".

After living through the first film, Andy (Alex Vincent) has been placed into foster care and his mother into mental care. He's been put into the care of foster parents, Phil (Gerrit Graham) and Joanne (Jenny Agutter, known to most horror fans as the nurse and love interest from "American Werewolf in London") Simpson.

The Simpson's appear to be professional foster parents and also have another child in their care, rebellious teenager, Kyle (Christine Elise). Kyle's a girl for the record.

Typically, no one will believe Andy when he begins to explain that Chucky (rebuilt for some unknown reason by the manufacturer) has found him, destroyed and replaced the Simpson's Good Guy Doll, Tommy. I see that Chucky is made from a much more malleable plastic than Tommy was after the face mashing incident...

Chucky is out to steal Andy's body again before his time in this new doll body is out, leaving him trapped as a little ginger dolly freak forever! But, he's also inclined to commit a few murders on the way there. It is, after all, his main hobby.

Maniac as always, Brad Dourif brings the little beggar to life with a murderous glee and a maniacal laugh unparalleled.

Sadly, this film was never going to surpass the original in that it is a rehash of itself. However, the action, props and animation are excellent and there's some interesting kill scenes on the doll Production Line (as an Engineer I have to say the lack of safety devices or any kind of poka yoke on that line was shoddy, even for the early 90s!).

Despite his murderous inclinations, I do kind of feel for old Charles Lee Ray in this film, he doesn't half get tortured! You'd think he would have given up by now...

And, I've never noticed how creepy "The Skye Boat Song" sounds when hummed...

[Image: Universal Studios]

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Possession

"The Possession" (2012, Ole Bornedal, Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Lionsgate, Ghost House Pictures, North Box Productions) is a supernatural horror about a little girl who buys and opens a creepy old dybbuk box and is then possessed by what's inside.

A fun little flick with a creepy and atmospheric build up, slightly ruined by showing too much at the end. Throughout the whole film we never truly see what was in the box and we can never properly hear what it's saying to  young Emily (Natasha Calis), which is brilliantly creepy, unfortunately, they seemed to have a special effects budget and were hell-bent on blowing it all in the end, so...

Reminiscent of "Candyman" for the visual effects and "The Exorcist" for the theming, but with Judaism as the focus religion in place of Catholicism. 

The acting is great, especially that of the young girls Emily and her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport). Also, as much as I kind of hated the ex-wife character, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), you don't get much history on the relationship problems outside of Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) working too much away from home and being distant, so maybe Clyde deserved all the hate.

And what's not to love about Jeffrey Dean Morgan? He's a handsome man, plays father to Sam and Dean Winchester in "Supernatural" and leads a happy band of heroic miscreants in "The Losers".

All in all, it's not the scariest thing I've seen recently and it plays too much to the horror-tropes to be anything more than yet another exorcism film, but it's eloquently put together, well-paced and generally a good film.

[Image: Lionsgate]