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]


Friday, 16 August 2013

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

"Wes Craven's New Nightmare" aka "New Nightmare" (1994, Wes Craven, New Line Cinema) is the 7th Freddy film in the series and is the finale by Wes Craven which aims to put Freddy to bed for good and reclaim the series after some truly abysmal sequels. Of course, we all know that "Freddy vs Jason" happened 9 years later, but that's a different story...

This film enjoys an invisible fourth wall and acts as a nice wink and a nudge to the fans as we follow, instead of Nancy from the first film, Heather Langenkamp (who played Nancy in the first film) as she begins to suffer Freddy nightmares.  This quickly escalates into a much darker story when it becomes apparent that Heather is not the only one.

To make matters worse, she's been asked to appear as Nancy again on Wes Craven's new Freddy film and is surprised on air by an appearance of Robert "Freddy" Englund during an interview.

With 'cameos' from Wes Craven and John Saxon as well as hefty screen time of Robert Englund in both his forms, this film brings the franchise back from the dead while also giving a satisfactory 'out'.

The effects are fun and fit in with the series perfectly and Freddy's stalking is actually more frightening again and less cartoony. There are also question-marks over Englund's disappearance mid-film which has the spooky connotations of him actually transforming into the nightmare man!

The explanation as to how Freddy can get into the real world is good and ties in well, separating this film from the mythos of the previous ones nicely.

More scary but not without the laughs we've come to expect from Mr. Krueger and a wholly fun film. Recommended!

[Image: New Line Cinema]

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

"Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" aka "A Nightmare on Elm Street 6" (1991, Rachel Talalay, New Line Cinema) was intended to be the last Freddy film...

Continuing to butcher their own legend, the series decides it's time to explain how Freddy (Robert Englund) got to be a dream-walking killer in the first place (not just how and why he died, which at least they maintained to!).

Freddy's unhappy to remain in Elm Street now that he has successfully disposed of all the children, so he decides to break into another 'playground' using his long-lost daughter, Maggie (Lisa Zane), and several disposable teens to do so...

An empty plot and hammy acting ruin a film which otherwise enjoys some fun effects. Although I do like Breckin Meyer, he wasn't hamming it up as much as the other teens were and I had a bit of a crush on him when I was a teenager..., although he did go on to become Garfield's owner...

The kill scenes are unimaginative and this is only emphasized further by the rather enjoyable end credits which showcase some of the better and more memorable kills from the previous films.

Some high points include cameos from Roseanne Barr, Alice Cooper who plays Freddy's abusive father and Johnny Depp who gets assaulted by Freddy whilst on dream TV (Depp was in the first film as a doomed teen).

There is also scene which pays a tiny bit of homage to Evil Dead 2 with a "Give me back my hearing!" moment in place of "hand" and a misguided Wizard of Oz visual gag...

All in, it's not the best of the franchise, and that's saying something after sitting through number 5! A film you only own if you're a completist!

 Here's Freddy Lollygagging

[Image: New Line Cinema]


Monday, 12 August 2013

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

"A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child" (1989, Stephen Hopkins, Heron Communications, Smart Egg Pictures, New Line Cinema) is the fifth in the series and follows on from number 4 with characters Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and Dan (Danny Hassel).

It's Graduation, but things aren't looking up for Alice now that Freddy (Robert Englund) has found a way to crawl back into the world... using demon baby power...!

One of the, dare I say it, crazier of the Freddy films, "Dream Child" can boast a lot of fun effects but on the whole over-stretched villain, Krueger, is starting to wear a little thin. The plot is predictable and it seems that Hopkins is just paying lip-service to the legend behind Freddy.

The acting is good and the effects are up to their usual fun, gory, zany cartoon standard. While it's hardly a scary film, it's a good bit of fun but isn't anything innovative and doesn't add much to the franchise.

However, it's only 89mins long and has good pacing, so at least it's short and snappy!

[Image: New Line Cinema]

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Conjuring

"The Conjuring" (2013, James Wan, The Safran Company, Evergreen Media Group, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros.) is a haunted house/possession/witchcraft film from the director who brought us "Saw", "Dead Silence" and "Insidious".

Based on a true story, we meet the Perron family.

Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor - the werewolf's mother from Netflix's "Hemlock Grove") have just moved into an old house in Rhode Island with their five daughters. Upon moving in they begin to experience strange happenings - from random injuries, to scary closet monsters, to creepy imaginary friends.

Eventually it all becomes too much to ignore as the apparitions become more menacing and the family seek the help of the famous paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga).

A very traditional haunted house tale that can be compared to the likes of "Poltergeist" and the "Amityville Horror" and with a bit of "The Birds" and some "Exorcist" thrown in there too.

Excellently acted and very engaging, this crowd pleaser had the audience in Glasgow squealing, whooping, jumping and then laughing self-consciously at their antics. It was a really good experience!

The film is quite a rollercoaster of jump scares and fun cinematography. Whilst it relies heavily on predictable horror tropes and slightly overused scenes (creepy old lady in a rocking chair, for example), it likes to feint jumps and get you back when you least expect it and you really feel for the characters' plight.

However, as usual with Wan films it seems, the hectic ending of constant pulse-pounding moments begins to feel more like a series of scenes with lessening terror intensity and more hilarity. There's just too much going on!

The Annabelle doll sub-plot (also really a job the real life Warrens have worked on) is fantastic and could easily spin-off as a whole film to itself! I do love the prop which is one of the creepiest yet and knocks Billy the Saw dummy off his little pedestal.

All in an excellent experience and a film I enjoyed! Hardcore horror fans might like to bump their gums about how 'predictable' this or that is, but the truth in the matter is I jumped in that cinema, so Mr. Wan, I take my proverbial hat off to you. Much better than "Insidious"!

[Image: Warner Bros.]

Lesbian Vampire Killers

"Lesbian Vampire Killers" or just "Vampire Killers" (2009, Phil Claydon, Alliance Films, Velvet Bite, AV Pictures, GEM Global, Momentum Pictures) is a rather crude British Horror comedy.

Taking inspiration from 70s Hammer Horror films, British Lads Mags and English lad humour, the film's plot needs very little in the way of explaining:

Two down-on-their-luck nitwits (James Corden & Mathew Horne) go for a hike in the fake Norfolk town of Cragwich where they meet a group of overly friendly, sexy female foreign students in their rather girly VW campervan.

The group head to a small cottage for the night only to find that they have been sent there by the locals to satisfy the hungry group of cursed Lesbian Vampire super-babes who dwell in the woods.

A tongue in cheek affair with some natty camera work and a lot of unsatisfyingly white vampire gloop (if you're not going to dust like a decent vampire, the least you could do is go up in flames or explode in a great big fountain of blood!) But that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. As long as you're looking for juvenile boob, fart and dick jokes, you'll be satisfied.

Not the best British horror comedy film but it's funny in places. If you're one of those people who are easily offended, though, I'd sit this one out.

I did enjoy the schlocky 70s style credits, though!

[Image: Momentum Pictures]

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

"Halloween III: Season of the Witch" (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace, Dino De Laurentiis Company, Universal Pictures) deviates from the usual Halloween film formula with no sign of our favourite masked murderer, Michael Myers (although we do see a bit of Halloween 1 on the TV in a few scenes).

One of the most anti-Halloween horror films I've seen, the plot is centred around Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) who begins to investigate the devious Silver Shamrock Company with a woman called Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) upon the mysterious death of Ellie's father.

Silver Shamrock are plotting to kill millions of children on Halloween night through the use of free Halloween masks and a creepy advert. They're also Hell-bent on unleashing some evil upon the world! Pesky witches!

A strange film. I actually quite enjoy it, despite its lack of Michael. The concept is creepy, the advert is shudder-worthy and, despite a low budget, the film is well put together with a few funny scenes - all be they accidental.

It will also get the tune from 'London Bridge is Falling Down' in a Pac-Man-style stuck in your head, though!

[Image: Universal Pictures]


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Zombie With a Shotgun

"Zombie With a Shotgun" (2012, Hilton Ariel Ruitz, FilmBrewery) is a zombie themed web series.

We meet Aaron (Braeden Baade, a man with a fine set of arms! Those are good arms to have) and his girlfriend, Rachel (Lynnea Molone), who are caught in the beginnings of the zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately Aaron has been infected by "some kind of virus" and appears to be heading for zombiedom.

In the first episode we find out how Aaron comes to be in the possession of a shotgun. Now, zombies toting firearms is not a new idea, we've seen it in Romero's "Day of the Dead" for example, but it's certainly interesting to see someone slowly becoming a zombie with a gun and find out what they will do with it when they get there.

At only 4-6 minutes long each the episodes are snappy and short keeping the viewer entertained. A dark atmosphere is still successfully built up despite the short run-time, with the use of some effective scoring, dark sets and the presence of vigilante human characters who constantly threaten our protagonist's existence.

Perhaps a little slow in plot and with a surprising lack of gore for a zombie film, the series focusses more on the gradual degradation of our leading man and his relationship with Rachel, than it does on gory fight scenes.

The acting is professional and the editing of the final product is shiny with a gritty realism. The makeup and prosthetics are effective and quite traditional, reminiscent of the older, less drool-y zombies. The special effects appear to be all physical, too (yay!).

A good Indie series with excellent potential for transforming into a larger series!

Catch episodes of the series here: http://vimeo.com/zombiewithashotgun 

[Image: FilmBrewery]

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The House at the End of the Street

"The House at the End of the Street" (2012, Mark Tonderai, FilmNation Entertainment) is a thriller/slasher/mystery film... or at least it aims to be.

Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) and her teenaged daughter, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), have just moved in to a rented house on a suburban street from the city. They have managed to afford it only because its neighbouring house is supposedly empty after the family were brutally murdered by one of their children.

But the lure of the creepily so-not-empty house proves too much for Elissa, who can't help but get to know the inhabitant....

A pretty standard modern mystery-horror with a lot of loud-noise-haha-it's-really-nothing jump scares and a convoluted but tedious plot.

It's a perfect 'horror' for teens to cut their fangs on, but offers little, other than Jennifer Lawrence, for a more mature horror fan.

[Image: FilmNation Entertainment]