Wednesday, 27 February 2013


"Aftershock" (2012, Nicolás López, Eli Roth, Cross Creek Pictures, Dragonfly Entertainment, Productions, Vertebra Films) is a Natural Disaster movie with some twists and turns in there. 

A visually shocking and exciting film, it starts in a way similar to "Hostel" (which isn't surprising when you consider that Eli Roth plays a large part in both writing and acting in this film), where Gringo (Eli Roth) is currently in Chile with two Chilean friends, Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás López) enjoying the underground nightclubs, vineyards and pretty young women, in particular the company of Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), Irina (Natasha Yarovenko) and Kylie's uptight, straight lace, half-Hungarian half-sister, Monica (Andrea Osvárt).

All the fun comes to an abrupt end, however, when an earthquake hits while they're partying. Soon they're fighting for their lives, but they've yet to learn that the earthquake may not be the total of their troubles!

The film starts off like a completely different kind of film, which as much as this is becoming the horror norm these days, I actually really enjoyed, the characters, although not entirely likeable, were nicely built up and the scene was set. I quite enjoyed the repartee between the characters and they reminded me very much of some of the kinds of people you meet on holiday. 

When the horror begins it's pretty brutal and the disaster scenes are edgy and realistic. The panic on display is also pretty lifelike, and seeing this on the big screen definitely adds to the feeling. 

There's a lot going on and, like all horror movies, you could easily over analyse the plot into rags, but that's not part of the amusement!

An effective, bloody film with enough to keep you watching. However, as a warning, there are rape scenes (because what else would you do while an earthquake is destroying your home?!).


Monday, 25 February 2013

The Bay

"The Bay" (2012, Barry Levinson) is a found footage 'mock-umentary' about the ecological side-effects the human race is having on the globe, and is pretty much a nature-bites-back-film.

Based in a small American Seaside town called Chesapeake during their 4th of July celebrations, we watch through the confiscated found footage of the inhabitants and a small student news blog as the town falls into chaos when a terrifying menace begins threatening the lives of the townspeople.

I'm not usually fan of found-footage, but I'm happy to report that "The Bay" is a winner for me. It was gross, scary and had a plot. While it's evidently a platform for Levinson to preach a little about global pollution and governmental transparency, it does so with style and excellent effects.

Some good old jump scares keep the pace, while we also get a lot of disturbing visuals and an engaging and almost 'mystery'-like slow reveal of the true cause of the panic and deaths.

While it's certainly no "Jaws", it's a really good yarn. Hey, and Kirsten Connolly from "Cabin In The Woods" is in it!


The ABCs of Death

"The ABCs of Death" (2012, Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noboru Iguchi, Andrew Traucki, Thomas Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Yûdai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Bruno Forzani, Héléne Cattet, Simon Rumley, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Srdjan Spasojevic, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Kaare Andrews, Jon Schnepp, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Drafthouse Films, Magnet Releasing).

"The ABCs of Death" is a 26-short anthology film, featuring a mini-film each from the above directors (or directive pair in some cases) based around one of the 26 letters of the alphabet. The film is 2hrs long-ish, and to be fair, it doesn't feel anywhere near this long as each short runs quickly onto the next in succession. It is, however, riddled with terrible mini-films which sadly overshadow some of the few really excellent shorts in the collection.

The film starts with a high point or two, but it's a severely mixed bag, and by the end I was glad to see the credits.

Some of the inspirational shorts are creative, violent, spooky, different and could be progressed easily into a full scale film. Some of the good, but maybe more average shorts are pretty standard and could really be thrown in with the likes seen in the latter day "Creepshow" films. Unfortunately there are also a majority of uninspired shorts which verge on the depraved (and not in the good way) and often jump the line into the simply stupid category. As much as the film moves quickly past these short little efforts, they unfortunately stick more in my mind than some of the good attempts.

Lots of toilet humour (although the claymation short was hilarious!), murders, vampires, paedophiles, animals, boobs and randomness. Some good, some terrible. The peaks certainly jump whole-heartedly into the troughs, but a cinematic experience to be had, for sure! Guaranteed you haven't seen anything like this before!

[Image: Drafthouse Films]


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bring Me The Head of Machine Gun Woman

"Bring Me The Head of Machine Gun Woman" (2012, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, LatinXploitation, Ronnoc Entertainment) is a Grindhouse-esque Spanish language movie about an Argentinian gangster who is trying to kill the sexy, half-naked, female mercenary (Fernanda Urrejola) who wants his head. When a young video game loving DJ named Santiago (Matías Oviedo) accidentally overhears a private converstation, the gangster forces the boy to go after the Machine Gun Woman.

Paying homage to the Grindhouse 'classics' and with some nicely tinted camera work, I found "..Machine Gun Woman" to be everything I wanted it to be; bloody, violent, filled with fight scenes and dodgy gangster types, with a semi-naked gun toting chick and a shed load of rapidly worded Spanish conversations.

It's based on a Grand Theft Auto-type game, and as our young hero attempts to go through each stage of his mission, we get a nice loading screen telling us whether he's completed the level or not. Although, admittedly this does lose its charm after a while.

It's not clever and it knows it, and it's certainly not everyone's cup of Pisco. But it's exactly as it's marketed to be and no more. Definitely a must see for Grindhouse aficionados.

Detention of the Dead

"Detention of the Dead" (2012, Alex Craig Mann, Gala Films) is a high school comedy zombie movie.

The term 'comedy' is used loosely, in that this shallow attempt at yet another zombie comedy falls pretty much on its face.

It's detention time at high school and 6 misfit teens are ready to spend it together. We have all the standard teen characters: goth chick, nerd, cheerleader, stoner, popular dude, varsity jacket dude.

Unfortunately for all of these unfortunate teens, the school has become infected by a zombie virus and even more unfortunately, someone in detention also has it. It isn't long until they're haring around the school trying to survive and find a means of escape.

Now, all that doesn't sound too awful, does it? But it's just so uninspired. From the half-assed Buffy references to the fact that the popular teen couple are called Brad and Janet just rung hollow to me. Maybe it was just that out of a day of pretty good horrors this attempt came last and it was 1am and I was out of wine, but I just didn't feel it.

Overdone, under-funny and nothing new, this film will doubtlessly land in the humongous boiling pot with all the other thousands of zombie comedy films out there. My advice? Stick on Shaun of The Dead, Wasting Away or Zombieland and enjoy some creativity.

[Image: Gala Films]



"Byzantium" (2012, Neil Jordan) is a vampire film with a difference, but also still a very classic feel.

Neil Jordan has brought classical vampirism to us before in the form of "Interview with a Vampire" and he was also behind "High Spirits", a ghost comedy based in Ireland, that I still love.

The film follows a mother and daughter vampire duo who are constantly forced to move home to avoid detection. They are also on the run from the male orientated vampire 'brotherhood', who do not wish for them to live. They find refuge in a seaside town and try to set up life there, but it isn't long before everything begins to unravel.

An artful film, this slow burner focuses well on the difficult situation that eternal teenager, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) has to face in school and in her lonely life. This character is interesting and I really thought Ronan's performance was excellent. Also, at the Q&A session afterwards she was very charming and very happy to give her own insight into the character. Eleanor seeks companionship, and wants to tell her story. She is more of an Angel of Death than a killer.

Her 'sister', actually her mother, is also the eternally young and beautiful Clara (Gemma Arterton) who was forced into the life of a whore as a young girl before becoming one of the undead, and seems to have been unable to shake the lifestyle. She provides for her daughter, but is much too stuck in her dark lifestyle to make Eleanor happy.

The film challenges the general modern day lore for vampires; no fangs and daylight is not an issue, but don't worry, it's not Twilight-y, the vampires are actually a little scary. The film hints at females being able to reproduce, whereas vampires are otherwise selected by the Brotherhood and are created at an ancient site inside a stone hut, where houses, what I expect to be the mother of all vampires.

I found the film arty but a little dull, and while it has a lot of charms, it didn't quite do as well as "Let The Right One In" did. Worthwhile watching, but not one I'd probably watch again.


The Lords of Salem

"The Lords of Salem" (2012, Rob Zombie, Alliance Films, Automatik Entertainment, Haunted Films, IM Global, Blumhouse Productions) is the film I was most excited for at Glasgow Fright Fest 2013.

As a fan of Rob Zombie's music and his films, I was waiting in anticipation for this film and it was one of the first main attractions for going to the festival (not that I wouldn't have gone had it not been showing!).

I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed, and while Lords isn't quite in the same style as "House of 1000 Corpses" or "The Devil's Rejects", it is really enjoyable! I felt it was well put together, and had the feeling of a Hammer Horror (such as "The Devil Rides Out") mixed with a touch of "Rosemary's Baby", there was also some classic 70s horror weirdness in there, especially any scenes with the Beast himself in them.

Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a radio DJ on Salem's local radio station. She co-hosts a show with her sometimes lover, Herman "Whitey" Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and also Herman Jackson (Ernest Lee Thomas).

One day, Heidi receives a strange record by a band called "The Lords" in a creepy wooden box. After a drunken night in with Whitey, they stick on the record and it behaves strangely, trying to play backwards. When it finally starts playing Heidi begins to feel strange and see odd visions. She kicks Whitey out and heads to bed where she dreams strange dreams.

Regardless, they play the record on the show and it becomes a hit with the listeners. The Lords also announce a gig in Salem and provide free tickets to anyone who wants them. But are The Lords all that they appear? Or is there something more sinister going on? And is the sweet little old landlady and her sisters really all that sweet?

An atmospheric film which is both slow burning and also quite trippy, The Lords of Salem is enjoyable and weird. Good visuals and a fitting soundtrack give the desired effect. Although, it's not for everyone, and is certainly no gore fest.

Several notable scream queens are present in this film including:
  • Magenta from Rocky Horror, Patricia Quinn
  • Meg Foster (she was in John Carpenter's "They Live")
  • Barbara Crampton ("Re-Animator")
  • María Conchita Alonso ("Predator 2", "The Running Man")
  • Dee Wallace ("E.T.", "The Howling", "The Hills Have Eyes", "Cujo")
 The coven scenes are excellent, if you can handle that much naked old lady, and really hark back to the glory days of witch horror, when Vincent Price was hunting them down and Joan Fontaine was losing her mind to witchcraft!

I actually liked the end which sped up and delved back into the Zombie we know and love and, for me, brought all the craziness to a head.

Good, different, but not gory, this film may be a point of contention amongst fans, but is a bold move by the ever talented Rob Zombie.

[Image: Haunted Films]



"Hellfjord" (Tommy Wirkola, Zahid Ali, Stig Frode, Film Camp, 2011) is a Norwegian comedy series from the talented people behind "Dead Snow", which premièred in the UK at Glasgow Film Festival's Fright Fest in 2013.

The series has received such a good response from the screening, that it is rumoured to be coming to the UK soon! 

Funny, clever, rude, surreal, uncomfortable and violent, "Hellfjord" feels like "League of Gentlemen" meets "Hot Fuzz", but is oh so Norwegian and different.

Zahid Ali plays leading man, Salmander, a policeman in Oslo who is being fired by the force for publicly shooting his horse to death in an attempt to 'humanely' put it down. Repeatedly. Before using other means to kill the beast. Now, I'm a horse lover, and an ex-horse owner, and even I thought that scene was funny!

The force cannot fire Salmander straight away and instead send him to a remote, strange little fishing town called Hellfjord to work. There he meets the small and odd community, who's main trade is the fish factory, Hellfish, owned by Bosse Nova (Thomas Hanzon), a Swedish business man with a criminal past.

Salmander works alongside oddball policeman, Kobba (Stig Frode Henriksen), who is one of the most entertaining characters. Fantastically played by Henriksen and also visually comedic. 

Kobba's long suffering mail order bride, Riina (Pihla Viitala) also seems to help out in the policework. I love their eccentric and weird marriage! So funny.

With unwilling help from Kobba and also some very willing help from Johanne (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), the local and only journalist on the island, Salmander attempts to find out what strange happenings are going on in Hellfjord.

Really worth a try, this series will have you laughing out loud and flinching at points too. A range of strange characters are introduced, including dirty old women and terrible hitmen. 

Zahid Ali makes a great main character as the funny, shy and bemused Salmander. His flawed personality is both relatable and a great source of entertainment. Whether he is dancing outlandishly, saying the wrong thing or randomly touching things while sneaking about, he just brings in the laughs.

Very funny, very different, intriguing and there's a sea serpent, too! I recommend you give Hellfjord a try! It is by far my favourite new discovery, thanks to Fright Fest!

[Image: Film Camp]

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Glasgow Film Festival: Fright Fest

I'm currently at Glasgow Fright Fest 2013 enjoying some movies and the company of like-minded people! Whoever said horror wasn't about bringing people together?!

The show has so far been very entertaining between the films and the Q&A sessions with some of the Directors and actors! This is the first one of these that I've been to, and I'm really enjoying the whole experience.

I'll definitely be back next year, and would recommend it to anyone in the vicinity if you haven't been before. Although, don't get your hopes up for freebies, there aren't many and if you're at the back you've got no chance unless you have wings...

Sawney: Flesh of Man

"Sawney: Flesh of Man" (2012, Ricky Wood, Philabeg Films) is the gore-soaked, blood drenched, modern day take on the old Scottish Cannibal legend of Sawney Bean and his in-bred family.

Sawney's back (or at least, one of his ancestors is) with a new, smaller, smarter family of in-bred cannibals (some of whom seem to be free-running, in-bred ninjas!), and this time they're not just waiting on passers by to get their munch on!

Excellently put together, completely depraved in parts, humorous and with really good special effects, this indie horror is a winner.

The picturesque surroundings are really atmospheric, and I'm happy to see that it is actually Scotland and with not many, if any, CGI effects.

The acting is good, and David Hayman in particular is excellent as the religious, maniac, cannibal daddy of the household. He delivers a crazed but strangely charismatic character with a glee that will make you uncomfortable.

There is rape of both sexes in this film, however, and a lot of gore. So it's not for the faint hearted!

[Image: Philabeg Films]

The American Scream

"The American Scream" (2012, Michael Stephenson, Brainstorm Media, Chiller Films, Magic Stone Productions) is a documentary from the mind that brought us "The Best Worst Movie" back in 2009.

It's set in a quiet American town called Fairhaven and follows 3 families of 'home haunters' as they prepare for the big night of Halloween over the month of October. Each family goes all out for Halloween, turning their gardens and houses into haunted houses for people to visit and enjoy. All three have a different personality, and so each Haunt is very different.

I knew America was crazy for Halloween, but I didn't realise how seriously some people took it! Or that there were whole conventions for props and house decor. Man, I definitely live in the wrong part of the globe.

Endearing and sweet, and often a little sad, this film follows the trials, tribulations and sheer dedication the Haunters and their ever supporting families go through to treat the children and trick or treaters at Halloween.

Each Haunter has such a different character and obviously felt very differently about the holiday and how they went about putting their haunt together, and I think I loved each one of them, they were just so charming in their sheer determination to make their haunt one to remember.

With some ups and downs and some really funny moments that had the cinema laughing aloud and sharing smiles, I found this film to be an excellent crowd pleaser, and a great study on the modern day American obsession (not with bad connotations, however) with All Hallow's Eve and how hobbies can really give your life purpose if you're passionate enough.

The props that Vincent put together, in particular, were so impressive! If he lived in my neighbourhood I would have been helping him out every year! The ending has a melancholy feel to it, however, and I'm curious to whether getting to live his dream has made Vincent happy. I really hope it has, though!

The scenes inside the haunts are excellent and really funny. All in all, this was a little gem of a movie and, while not a horror, is so touching and well put together it will bring a smile to your face.

A good way to start off the 2013 Fright Fest!

[Images: Brainstorm Media, Chiller Films, Magic Stone Productions]

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Idle Hands

"Idle Hands" (1999, Rodman Flender, Columbia Pictures) is another horror comedy (ok, so I like horror comedies!).

This time it's all about 3 stoner teens, Anton (Devon Sawa), Pnub (Elden Henson) and Mick (Seth Green) who do nothing all day but smoke, chat, eat and watch rubbish on TV.

Until, of course, Anton discovers on Halloween that his hand has become possessed and is killing everyone! He tries to find a way to stop it before it kills all 2 of his friends and that girl that he likes, Molly (Jessica Alba).

Gory, entertaining and dumb, "Idle Hands" isn't a clever film and doesn't try to be. The effects are fun, and while the humour isn't quite of "Evil Dead 2" calibre, it's still fun.

A fun 90s soundtrack includes Rob Zombie, Mötley Crüe and an appearance of The Offspring reminds you why you're watching this film; for fun. If you want a serious horror it isn't for you.

More of a humorous homage to the horror genre, "Idle Hands" should be taken with a pinch of salt and enjoyed for its base attractions: Seth Green, Jessica Alba, undead folk and killer hands. If you want more, I think you should go watch "Evil Dead".

[Image: Columbia Pictures]

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

"Killer Klowns from Outer Space" (1988, Stephen Chiodo, Mach Studios, Trans World Entertainment, Chiodo Brothers Productions) does exactly what it says on the tin! It's a movie about alien space creatures who resemble clowns, coming to earth to kill people. This purposefully-so-bad-it's-good spoof is a real winner for the title alone!

Completely nuts, self-aware and cheesy this film is everything you want it to be! If you don't want to watch 'Klowns' killing people with popcorn, circus-themed alien weaponry and drinking dead people with crazy straws, then I would only recommend you watch a film other than this one.

Featuring all of the above, plus the plucky young couple, Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder), our intrepid hero police officer Dave (John Allen Nelson) and moaning, old, useless officer Mooney (John Vernon), Killer Klowns delivers the goods in this funny, pastiche, low-budget comedy horror.

While you could argue that it's a one trick pony, or in this case a one joke plot, I didn't find that this mattered as the film was entertaining and well made. The props were pretty good actually for a low budget comedy, and the feel of the film was professional and well executed.

If you're in the mood for some crazed circus laughs this film could be the right one for you!

Not one for the Coulrophobics out there, though! 

[Image: Chiodo Brothers Productions]

Monday, 18 February 2013


"Valentine" (2001, Jamie Blanks, Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures) is a holiday slasher based around the ever romantic celebration of chocolates and overpriced roses.

We open to a junior high school Valentine's dance. A school loser is asking girls to dance and is being turned down at every opportunity. Even when he finally gets a girl's attention it is in secret, and when some bullies find the pair, the girl, being a little overweight and low in self-esteem herself, decides to claim that the poor boy has assaulted her! The bullies beat the smaller boy and during all this we see his nose bleeding.

Now on to present day where we join the group of girls, those who rejected the boy and his accuser, all grown up and enjoying their lives. Slowly, however, the girls begin to be picked off by a madman in a Cupid mask, who suffers a lot of nosebleeds...

With some mildly disturbing Valentine's gifts, a Michael Myers knock-off killer (albeit with creepy-cutsie-pie mask), some relatively lively scenes and some cheesy 90s-style patter, I always find this film to be an adequete little Valentine's slasher.

A product of the late-nineties-to-early-2000s, this film is hardly a cerebral adventure, but it's fit for purpose and has a good little tale. There's an unimaginative twist, but I do enjoy some of the characters. The pervy policeman in particular is entertaining.

With a few recognisable faces, David Boreanaz, Katherine Heigl, Denise Richards, Jessica Cauffiel... to name a few, Valentine delivers the goods performance-wise and plot-wise without trying to be more than it is. Oh and the music is good!

Simple and satisfying, but don't go in expecting anything clever!

[Image:  Warner Bros. Pictures]

Friday, 15 February 2013


"Boo" (2005, Kismet Entertainment Group, Graveyard Filmworks, Anthony C. Ferrante) is a haunted old hospital movie.

It's Halloween night and a group of college students decide to spend it in the closed, and badly cordoned off, Santa Mira Hospital. The hospital is rumoured to be haunted, but no one has ever survived a night there in order to describe their encounter before. Or, so the urban legends say...

Feeling brave, the group head in and soon find that perhaps the rumours are true!

A movie with a terrible name, I wasn't exactly expecting much, and while it's quite an amateur production in many ways I found myself actually enjoying it. I watched with a friend, which is usually a good way to make a bad movie entertaining. It's not one to give you nightmares by all means, but I did find a few scenes to be quite promising.

The premise of the film is hardly inventive, but Ferrante has added in some bulk in trying to give the ghosts a sad and abusive history. While this is hardly a film I'd watch again, I would hasten to add that it's got some good sides to it.

The scenery is spot on and the camera work is excellent for B-movie-land. The characters, although your typical 'unlikable horror fodder', are portrayed relatively well. It's certainly nowhere near as wooden as some films I've seen recently.

The ghosts tend to pop up in the background a lot in a fun Scooby Doo kind of way, and there's a lot of 'jump' attempts, some more successful than others. The effects are my favourite kind, mainly props and prosthetics, and are perfectly passable considering this film wouldn't have enjoyed a large budget.

There is, of course, the obligatory dead dog scene for you animal lovers out there...

M. Steven Felty does an excellent job at being the ghost, and has an almost Robert Englund creep factor about him that verges very much into the Freddy Krueger territory.

A film with a lot of potential but let down with some of the primary points of story telling, it's worth a try, but don't plan on being scared.

[Image: Kismet Entertainment Group]
 Don't be fooled, however, it's nowhere near as much fun as Dog Soldiers!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Secrets Of The Clown

"Secrets Of The Clown" (2007, Ryan Badalamenti, Brain Damage Films, Badman Productions) is, in essence, a killer clown movie.

Bobby (Paul Pierro) feels that he is being haunted by a spirit after the brutal murder of his friend Jim (Jay O'Connor) in his house. His girlfriend, Val (Kelli Clevenger), has also become very distant and oddly protective of her toy clown doll. Soon other friends of Bobby begin to be killed off. Could the clown be responsible?

Dun. Dun. Duuhhhhhhhnn!

Sounds ok, doesn't it? A little schlocky, maybe. Well, it's a low budget attempt so I would be inclined to forgive the sometimes shaky camera work and I was expecting crappy gore. But the first scene is very promising! And the musical score is pretty well put together.

However, the dialogue is painful and truthfully, badly executed by wooden acting. It references 'Ghostbusters' and 'South Park', but the lines aren't very funny. And, although character stereotypes are set up, the characters are just not full enough for any audience sympathy. But I'm used to this in B-movies, so I wasn't expecting much anyway.

The plot is confusing, jumpy and seems uncertain of what's going on and there are a lot of dream sequences that, although sometimes actually creepy, don't do much for the story. It was like Badalamenti couldn't decide if he wanted the bad guy to be a clown, a ghost, a demon or witches. It makes little sense and by half way through the film I just didn't really care any more!

The characters are not likeable, and although the clown make up is good, considering the meagre budget this film must have had, he's not really used to his full potential.

The gore is surprisingly good for B-movie-dom, but it's not quite "Murder Party" impressive (another terribly wooden film). And I didn't understand where some of the blood splatters were from, especially in the car scene. But that's not really a bad thing in a slasher!

There are a lot of topless women in this film, so I suppose that would save it for some people. There's also a sexy nurse and a shower scene. So, if you're looking for boobs, this could be right up your street. 

But it's not scary, it's not clever and it's indecisive as to which horror-sub-genre it wants to be in. Cheesy, but not in the good way.

[Image: Brain Damage Films & Badman Productions]

Sunday, 3 February 2013


"1408" (2007, Mikael Håfström, Dimension Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) is a haunted hotel room film based on the book of the same name by Stephen King. This is a King book I haven't yet got to reading, but it's on my list, and has just moved swiftly up the list thanks to this film!

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a sceptical writer who travels around America staying in supposedly haunted hotel rooms and giving them shining, ghost-filled reviews in his cheap thrill books. He has come to live this way after the death of his daughter, Katie (Jasmine Jessica Anthony) and the resulting separation from his wife, Lily (Mary McCormack). He's lost his drive to write real books and is lost.

His PO box is always overflowing with invites and flyers from Haunted Hotel owners, but there's one hotel in New York that he feels compelled to visit after receiving an anonymous flyer, The Dolphin Hotel.

He travels to New York and tries to check into room 1408. The hotel's manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts several times to dissuade Mike from staying in that room, offering him bribes and free evidence. But Mike is determined, and is eventually given the keys. Olin takes him to the floor, but not the room, and warns him that over 56 people have died inside 1408 and no one has lasted more than an hour.

Mike sits in the room for a while, telling his tape recorder about the shabby, boring appearance of the room, its drab decor and lack of any supernatural phenomenon. And then, the room makes with the scary!

The film is quite intense, elegant and jumpy. The scares flip smoothly from psychological to 'boo' moments and Cusack gives his usual high level of character acting for the tense surroundings. Mike begins as a sceptic, slowly slides into intrigued and shocked, falls into terror and tries to bounce back into control. It's a good rollercoaster effect and Cusack pulls it off brilliantly.

The version I watched was the Director's cut which has the, what I like to call, 'British Audience Ending'; we're rarely upset with a sad, brutal ending. The 'real' ending, if you like, was quite a lot different, due to negative responses at test screenings. I haven't actually seen this ending so can't really offer comparison, but I really liked the ending in this one and thought it fitted with King's usual story telling very well.

I think this film is quite classy for the modern horror as it manages to entertain and scare its audiences with no sex. Not that I don't love a good sleazy 80s slasher, but I'm finding that a lot of modern horror films feel the need to have boobs and torture to the max and it's getting boring. What I liked about "1408" was that it's scary and has some gore and grisly bits (there is a very good scene with a blue light), jumps and thrills without pandering to the 'Saw'-seekers.

Keeping with King's recurring theme of  'places that are just wrong' "1408" is more than a haunted hotel story, and the evil cannot be truly beaten. Really worth watching.

Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer