Friday, 19 December 2014

Nymph

"Nymph" aka "Killer Mermaid" aka "Mamula" aka "Dark Sea" (2014, Viktorija Film, Talking Wolf Productions) is a film from Serbia about, you guessed it - a killer mermaid!

Many thanks to fellow Blogger, Christopher Zisi who drew my attention to this film with his glorious review (which can be found here: http://zisiemporium.blogspot.cz/2014/12/killer-mermaid-montenegro-nights.html) <- Check it out!

Not a film to disappoint, our first scenes are of a very beautiful couple having a road trip; smooching here, there and everywhere and then getting a bit frisky by the sea. Beautiful people, toplessness and bikinis are consistent themes in this film.

Then we meet our villains: a *sometimes beautiful* man-eating mermaid and her accomplice... with his fishhook.

The actual plot follows two women, Kelly (Kristina Klebe) and Lucy (Natalie Burn) who are old college mates on holiday in Montenegro to meet up with old flame and college mate, Alex (Slobodan Stefanovic) and his (much to their disappointment) fiance, Yasmin (Sofija Rajovic).

While out and about they also happen upon Yasmin's hot pal, Boban (Dragan Micanovic), who convinces the crowd to check out an old abandoned prison, located on its own island just out of distance of the mainland. Despite being warned to steer clear of the place by a local the crew head on out there anyway, intent on taking photos and having a good time.

Much to their horror, they find that they are not the only ones visiting the island that day and are dismayed and intrigued to find a man emptying buckets filled with human remains into a well that appears to house a beautiful young girl. The gang decide to save her.... Big mistake.

A very beautiful film, the scenery is glorious and the actors are all very pretty as well as being actually able to act - which is unusual in a straight to DVD film.

The special effects are surprisingly impressive. Despite being clearly CGI, the mermaid's tail is very sleekly done and the movement of her in the water is enough to rival some much bigger budget films.

While the plot is pretty standard B-movie fayre, the story keeps going and has a few gory bits to keep you intrigued. I also enjoyed the mermaid's 'true face' and her siren-abilities to sing and draw only the menfolk to their grisly deaths.

A good ol' bitch fight at the end also acts as a good pay off.

Giving you exactly what it says on the box "Nymph" is just what I wanted out of a killer mermaid flick!

[Image: Viktorija Film]
 
Hani
 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Doc of the Dead

"Doc of the Dead" (2014, Alexandre O. Philippe, Exhibit A Pictures, Geekscape Productions, RedLetterMedia, EPIX) is a zombie documentary.

With viewpoints from Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, George A. Romero, Fran Kranz, Tom Savini, Max Brooks, S.G. Browne, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stuart Gordon, Alex Cox, Judith O'Dea, Russell Streiner, John Harrison, John A. Russo and Joanna Angel, it is a fabulous and funny geekfest!

The documentary goes through film, literature and other pop culture zombieness. With clips from various favourites and a lot of ground covered, this documentary keeps you enthralled and giggling. A really fun and insightful hour and twenty-one minutes, it's a must see for any horror or zombie fan. Whilst it's not an in-depth analysis of the horror genre, it is an appetite whetter.

Imagine yourself sat at a table with all these genre legends, sharing pizza and bantering about zombies... This is essentially the mood of this documentary.


[Image: EPIX]
Hani

Silent night, Deadly night

"Silent night, Deadly night" (1984, Charles Sellier, Slayride, TriStar Pictures) is a holiday slasher.

On Christmas Eve 1971, young Billy and his parents and baby brother take a little trip out to see his catatonic grandfather at the mental health institution. Billy is initially concerned that he won't get home in time for Santa visiting, but his mother assures him that he will. Soon Billy's fears have switched to Santa visiting at all. This is elevated when his parents stop to help a stranded Santa who's car has broken down. As it turns out, this Santa is a gun wielding loony, who kills Billy's parents, leaving he and his brother out in the snow.

Fast forward several years to an orphanage and we find poor Billy, now with a severe Santa-phobia. Like all church run orphanages in movies, the Mother Superior is unsympathetic to the boy's plight and treats him like a weirdo.

Billy then grows up and lands a job as the storeroom boy for a local toy shop where we get a jolly montage of his few months there.

Seemingly unaware of Billy's past or his dislike of Santa, he is asked by the store to be Santa when the usual one can't be there. Billy reluctantly obliges, but it turns out to be too much for him and he cracks, going on a murderous rampage, shouting "naughty" as he kills everybody.

Not original in any particular way, again our killer has a sadness to him that makes you almost sympathetic to him. The poor guy needed some help. He also needed not to have a holiday temp job in a toy shop at Christmas.... And maybe a girlfriend... Anyway, while not in itself anything ground breaking, the controversy it caused all over the place is very interesting, especially considering that this film was not the original killer Santa movie.

The film does well to set up some rather well rounded characters; some of the nuns and the shop owner are particularly memorable. There are also some good B-movie action scenes and some lovely overacting from Billy when he sees the mall Santa.

A Christmas B-movie to enjoy, and nothing more.

[Image: Slayride films]

Hani
 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Evil

"Christmas Evil" (1980, Lewis Jackson, Pan American Pictures) is a holiday slasher movie with a conscience.

Harry stayed up late to see Santa once as a child in the 40s and witnessed 'Father Christmas' make love to his mother. Dismayed, he grows up to become obsessed with Santa and works in a toy factory. His home is filled with Santa memorabilia and he is even spying on the local children and keeping his own (rather elegantly bound) naughty and nice lists.

Throughout the film Harry begins to unravel further until he eventually snaps, going on a rampage in his Santa costume (complete with glued on beard!) that is part killing spree and part burglary, charity run and party entertaining.

An odd film, there are scenes of gore, but primarily this film acts more as a social commentary on consumerism, mental health, innocence and the sad side of the holidays.

Harry cuts a sympathetic character, not a monstrous serial killer. And really he's just trying to be a good Santa for the good children and punish the non-believing adults. In his own twisted way, he's doing the right thing...

It's neither good nor bad, it just kind of IS.... Vague, I know, but it was just a weird one!

[Image: Pan American Pictures]

Hani

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What We Do In The Shadows

"What We Do In The Shadows" (2014, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Paladin Pictures) is the horror comedy about four vampire housemates from the guys behind "Flight of the Conchords".

Four vampires from different time periods are sharing a house in New Zealand in today's modern world. We follow a fly on the wall 'documentary' and get to witness such delights as house meetings, arguments about chores, shopping and recent altercations with their nemesis gang; the local pack of werewolves.

A very entertaining film with some good one liners and a lot of nod-nod-wink-wink references to vampire lore of all types.

I really enjoyed it and, although it's not exactly a 'thoughtful film' or really a horror in any way, it hit all the right buttons and brought a big smile to my wee fanged face. It's smart and cheeky and bound to please anyone looking for some tongue-in-cheek vampire commentary on today's world.


[Image: Paladin Pictures]
 
Hani 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

As Above, So Below

"As Above, So Below" (2014, John Erick Dowdle, Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures) is an American jump scare, found footage horror based in the catacombs of Paris.

Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) is a student of alchemy, following her father's works after his death. She is obsessed with finding the Philosopher's stone, which is meant to grant eternal life, healing powers and, of course, the ability to turn base metals into gold. Oh alchemy, you weird 'science', you.

She, her ex, George (Ben Feldman) and their cameraman, Benji (Edwin Hodge), enlist the help of local urban expert, Papillon (François Civil), and his girlfriend, Souxie (Marion Lambert) to guide them into and around the Catacombs of Paris.

As they go deeper in the Catacombs, they come across some freaky sights. They also come across a small door which none of the locals will go through, stating that a friend of theirs had gone through, never to return.

Eventually, they have no choice if they wish to progress, so they go through the door and that's when they begin to question if they have accidentally opened the teensy tiny doorway to hell.

A fun little flick that manages to add a small charm to found footage that found footage hasn't had since Troll Hunter. Jumpy, kind of daft scenes and good timing make for a fun, rollercoaster experience.

While it's not for everyone, I actually found that I enjoyed this film which came as a surprise because I am not usually one for found footage.

There are a lot of horror tropes in there, granted, but I thought that they were used remarkably well and, although the film leaves you a bit disorientated and a little seasick from all that shaky cam, it's certainly not one of the worst I've seen this year.

There is, however, an awful scene that jumps into Lara Croft single player POV for a while and I just found that weird and a little dumb. Surely, if it took them a whole film to reach that point, going back would not take five minutes? Pah!

Regardless, it's not a ground breaking experience but I've seen worse.



[Image: Legendary Pictures]
 
Hani

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Starry Eyes

"Starry Eyes" (2014, Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, Snowfort Pictures, Parallactic Pictures, Dark Sky Films) is all about the fame game.

Budding young actress, Sarah (Alex Essoe), is becoming desperate to catch her big break. Her housemates, also actors, have all given up and are planning their own indie film instead of looking for paid work, but Sarah has bigger dreams. Finally she thinks she's found her chance, but is she willing to make the necessary sacrifices to reach her goals?

A film that is very slow to get started, I was starting to think I'd made a mistake when the plot began to speed up and drag me right back in. A really masterful film which creates a dark and sinister build up to a quite shocking and impressive payoff.

The effects are impressive and the actors create some really well rounded characters, despite minimal screen time. Essoe is an excellent leading lady, proving herself to be very diverse and able to hold an audience in thrall.

Well-trod ground in terms of the inspiration, but a truly unique film that I enjoyed. I don't want to give too much away, so rest assured that if you let this film run, it's worth it.

[Image: Dark Sky Films]
 
Hani

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ouija

"Ouija" (2014, Stiles White, Platinum Dunes, Hasbro, Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures) was last Halloween's rush-job jumper brought to you by Hasbro.... Yep, you guessed it, it's pretty much a really long toy commercial...

Laine (Olivia Cooke) and her best pal Debbie (Shelley Hennig) used to love to play with a ouija board. Then they grew up and got into just filming everything ever (from the mundane tasks of cleaning their attic to their highschool conversations) with a digital camera instead, and the ouija board was banished from their minds.

Unluckily, it resurfaces again when Debbie cleans said attic, and the spirit she contacts with it is less than fluffy. Soon the whole gang are being hounded by this vengeful ghost, but is everything as it seems....?

...Of course it is. This film was nothing but a string of tropes. So predictable was every clichéd scene that my boyfriend and I began shouting out what was coming before it happened in order to actually entertain ourselves.

Another thing is it's complete lack of pacing. The film takes forever to get to the point, and then wants to bombard you with typical horror fayre thereafter. By the time the action hit I was bored.

The big 'twist' is so obvious it isn't even worth being wary of spoilers and the teens are extremely catalogue-y.

Generic as all hell. I recommend for teens and sleepovers, and that's all. And, how unscary is the name Doris? Seriously?!

[Image: Hasbro, et al]
 
 
Hani

Monday, 10 November 2014

Dracula Untold

"Dracula Untold" (2014, Gary Shores, Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures) depicts the origin tale of Dracula.

Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, Prince of Transylvania (Luke Evans) seeks some unorthodox help to defeat his Turkish ex-captors and maintain the freedom of his homeland and its people. Much to his detriment, as we all know.

I wouldn't call this a fantastic vampire film, but I equally won't bestow on it the bile that many online bloggers have. Yes, the film is not Bram Stoker's Dracula, but it never claims to be. Yes, there are historical inaccuracies, but it's not a documentary. In fact, I found it to be a refreshing take on a classic tale, even if it does often delve into the more comic book action genre than anything resembling horror.

It's not a serious film, nor an accurate historical character study, nor even a horror movie. But it does well to capture the era, the desperation and shows a more human side to the famous character than previously investigated in the rather bloated world of vampire cinema.

Evans creates an attractive Vlad, but Charles Dance steals the show however, with his fabulous talent for creepiness with a touch of bitter disappointment and that fanged grin.

Image: Universal Pictures
 
Hani

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Babadook

"The Babadook" (2014, Causeway Films, Cinetic Media/eOne Films International, Jennifer Kent) is the story of an unlucky family who become plagued by a nightmarish creature after reading from a mysterious, creepy children's storybook.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a woman who has had a tough hand in life; the early death of her husband has been something that she has struggled to cope with. Couple that with a her imaginative but unruly, undisciplined child, Sam (Noah Wiseman), and you have a pretty sad tale.

A slow burning and depressing tale, the film is more about feeling and presence than scares and I found that the lack of action did become a bit monotonous after a while. However, the scenes with the creepy shadow monster are really quite chilling and atmospheric and there is a horrible reality of the fear of bad parenting and the black pit of grief in there too.

The acting is great. The characters feel realistic, if slightly unhinged, and there's even a few nice jumpy bits. I especially liked the styling of the story book which in itself is terrifying.

Mr. Babadook could be a terrifying monster, joining the infamous ranks of our other favourite boogeymen. Unfortunately, the slow, artsy style of the film did take away some of the pace of the story, even if it did make for an elegant looking end product.

A great debut piece, and a thoughtful take on a boogeyman story, but style overtook substance a little too much in my view.

[Image: Causeway Films]
Hani

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Horns

"Horns" (2014, Red Granite Pictures, Mandalay Pictures, Dimension Films, Alexandre Aja)

Based on the novel by Joe Hill, this film explores several themes of humanity; murder, betrayal, mystery, misery, goodness, badness, darkness, loss and jealousy. And it does it all with a guy with horns growing out of his head. Awesome!

Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is accused of the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). He's now being ruthlessly hounded by the press, outcast by his fellow townsmen and regarded with suspicion by his friends and relatives.

One day, Ig awakes to discover two growths protruding from his forehead. In shock he goes to the doctor's surgery where two things become apparent: 1 - although very noticeable, people do not seem to be running away from his horned visage and 2 - people are now sharing with him their darkest thoughts and desires.

We follow as Ig, initially horrified by his fellow man's appalling admissions, learns some harsh truths and eventually begins to think that maybe he can embrace his dark power to clear his name. But throughout, we're also asking ourselves, if Ig is showing demonic signs can he be truly innocent?

A really engaging film with some strong messages and a lot of really nice visuals. Radcliffe once again shows us his true home is with horror, portraying a strong male character in an unfortunate situation. He also has quite an impressive American accent.

I definitely recommend seeing this film, it is a nice break away from the jumpy, mindless crowd-pleasers filling up the screens, and still manages to deliver that chilling feeling we're all craving.

Plus, another film with a pretty red head female main character in it. I'm noticing a good trend starting!


[Image: Red Granite Pictures, et al]
Hani

Monday, 27 October 2014

See No Evil 2

"See No Evil 2" (2014, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, WWE Studios, Lionsgate Home Entertainment) is the sequel to, you've guessed it, "See No Evil".

Some pretty young people are working the graveyard ship at the morgue. Amy (Danielle Harris) is about to leave to attend her birthday celebrations in a local bar, when the morgue is informed that they are to receive delivery of a special case: the body of Jacob Goodnight (Kane) and his numerous victims. This is all just too exciting for Amy to miss so instead her friends decide to swing by the morgue to party instead.... Of course!

Amy's pal Tamara (Katherine Isabelle), who has an interestingly sexual interest in death, goes with her boyfriend to look at the murderer's body. It isn't long until she learns that the body is still more than just that, though! And then the fun begins.

A good old slasher with the trademark gore, witty banter and interesting sexy scenes that we've come to know and love as synonymous with the works of the talented Soska sisters. They create a fun chase and slash through the morgue without becoming too samey. The scenes have interesting, if disposable, characters and the action is gory and quick.

Kane maintains his signature menace as the slow, silent slasher killer, hulking over his victims.

Katherine Isabelle nails it as our morbid, comedic lady. Her timing is great and there's a few fun running scenes that managed to artfully combine Scooby Doo and Friday the 13th in equal measures.

While it's nothing ground-breaking, it's a good entry to the slasher genre and is definitely worthy of your Halloween watch list.


[Image: WWE Studios]
 
Hani

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Annabelle

"Annabelle" (2014, John R. Leonetti, New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster, The Safran Company, Warner Bros. Pictures) is the follow up to "The Conjuring", this time focussing solely on Annabelle, the possessed doll.

We open the same way as we do on the film's predecessor, with the young nursing students explaining to Ed and Lorraine Warren about their dealings with the creepy doll.

But, the story isn't focussing on their incident, Annabelle's previous targets were John and Mia Form. A young professional couple, expecting their first child. John (Ward Horton) presents his wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis), with the doll; a rare specimen for her rather large and daunting collection of creepy-ass dolls. Man, was her kid going to be traumatised!

It isn't long before creepy stuff begins. Firstly, the house is broken into by two freaky people, and they attack Mia. It transpires that the assailants are Annabelle (the girl next door) and her boyfriend, who were members of a Satanic Cult. Believing the doll, which featured in the attack, to be tainted, they throw her away. But, like Chucky, she doesn't like that and comes back...

The Forms move house to an apartment block to escape the events, but they just can't get away from the doll which finds them there. The doll inherits the moniker Annabelle after the murderous young girl (what a nice momento) and Mia, feeling safe in her new surroundings, decides to keep her....

It isn't long before the doll begins to manifest creepy happenings and other inanimate objects start being poltergeisty.

They seek help from the church and from a nice lady called Evelyn (Alfre Woodard). But the doll is after something more sinister than just scaring a few people...

With some nice jumpy bits and a good bill of characters that you can build a rapport with, this is actually a pretty good scary doll flick!

It doens't go all Chucky on us either, Annabelle is not a scuttling little maniac with a knife, she is the hiding place of something sinister.

I really haven't got anything bad to say about this film. It takes a lot of inspiration from classics, and it may not be a groundbreaking piece of horror cinema, but it does the job and it does it with class.

Just remember, spooky dollies aren't everyone's cup of tea.

[Image: New Line Cinema, et al]
Hani

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Incredible Melting Man

"The Incredible Melting Man" (1977, William Sachs, American International Pictures, Columbia Pictures) is a Sci-Fi horror.

Steve West (Alex Rebar) is one of three astronauts who are accidentally subjected to a lot of radiation whilst in space. He returns as the only survivor, seriously unrecognisably wounded as he may be. I mean, even his moustache didn't survive!

Steve awakes to discover his melted visage and body and immediately goes on an amusing rampage, murdering and mutilating anyone in his way using his new found super-decomposing-radioactive powers.

In hot pursuit are Steve's pals, Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBanning), Dr Loring (Lisle Wilson) and Sheriff Blake (Michael Alldredge). Can they stop this melting madman from wreaking havoc?!

With a touch of parody feel to it, this cheesy 70s homage to the earlier goopy alien movies of the 50s really pleased that so-bad-it's-good fan in me.

Reused scenes where budget restricted effects (really fun gory effects from the talented Rick Baker known for "Schlock", "It's Alive", "An American Werewolf In London", "Thriller"...to name a few) pattern through the film. Obviously so.

Cheesy dialogue and random happenings mark this as a definitive so-bad film. But those effects really bring it up a notch!

Definitely not for the casual horror viewer, this film is unlikely to keep you awake at night, but it is a fun little 70s cheese-fest.

[Image: Columbia Pictures]

Hani

Friday, 3 October 2014

Don't Blink

"Don't Blink" (2014, Travis Oates, EchoWolf Productions, Engine Film Group) is a suspense horror about a group of young people (not that young) who drive up to the countryside to an idyllic cabin resort for the weekend. Only, there's no one to check them in, no other guests, no wildlife and no signs of a struggle.

A movie which is a victim of itself. It has the promise of a creep factor and a good base concept. Unfortunately, the base concept never develops into anything more than an idea jotted on a scrap of paper during a meeting, and the character development is just not good enough to make me care about the characters' situation.

They are all pretty much asses. We learn early on that they're also irresponsible (who goes up the mountains without stopping for fuel?!). In fact, the best bit of character development is a rather chilling and brutal descent into madness. That is by far the best and most impressive scene of the film.

But the slow pace, lack of any action for a good while and the fact that nothing is explained at all. No tidbits. No revelations by our characters. Nothing. Doesn't build mystique for me, it just left me feeling bored and empty like I'd just wasted 2 hours of my life.

Now, it's not awful. It's beautifully shot, with a nice location. Mena Suvari is in it. And there are some hints at darkness that whetted my appetite for that complete lack of pay off.

There are messages scrawled in blood that our characters fail to notice. There are some good gore scenes and there are even a few truly humorous moments.

Unfortunately, this does not override the complete lack of anything at the end of this film and the unsatisfying feeling it left me with. Nope. It wasn't a chilling, ground breaking plot it smacked of lazy writing.

It's a shame, too. Doctor Who had built up so much promise around the phrase "Don't Blink".


[Image: EchoWolf Productions]
 
Hani
 

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Evil Dead

"The Evil Dead" (1981, Sam Raimi, Renaissance Pictures, New Line Cinema) is the entry level cult horror B-movie masterpiece by Sam Raimi and the main reason that both Raimi and Bruce Campbell are household names.

A group of college students head out to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods. When they get there they find the cabin is run-down and creepy. I love the scene with the swinging bench, it's very effective.

While investigating their new surroundings, they come across an audio player with a tape recording and a creepy old book which looks to be bound in human skin.

Being adventurous young people, they listen to the tape recording and accidentally release the demonic spirits (aka Deadites) into the woods. The demons then take turns possessing the teens and traumatising them or killing them in fantastically b-movie ways.

The most serious of the series, The Evil Dead remains one of my favourite horror films to date.
I recommend reading Bruce Campbell's book, "If Chins Could Kill" to get more behind the scenes appreciation of how hard those guys worked to make this film!

Disturbing and gross, with homemade special effects, crafty camera work, sheer determination and the ability to talk his friends into landing face down in muddy puddles and spend days in an old derelict shack making monstrous noises and giggling maniacally, Raimi created the film that would make him a horror legend and earn his reputation as a director. And it would kick start the movie career of one of my favourite horror stars, Bruce Campbell, earning him a dedicated fanbase of nutjobs.

Milk oozing deadites for the win!

[Image: Renaissance Pictures]
 
Hani

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Leprechaun: Origins

"Leprechaun: Origins" (2014, Zach Lipovsky, WWE Studios, Lionsgate Films) is the seventh film in the Leprechaun series, but truly it's a reboot as it shares no similarities to the other films.
 
A group of Americans are backpacking through Ireland on their summer break when they happen across a friendly local in a bar who tells them that they can spend the night in one of his wooden cabins and he will take them to see a local landmark at sun up.
 
Being more than a little gullible, and also up for anything, the group agree and the man's son, Ian (I love how Americans seem to think that Scotland and Ireland are completely interchangeable. Now I'm not saying Irish people can't be called Ian or Hamish, but you'd think at least one of them would have a remotely Irish name in a film set in Ireland!?), drives them all up to the chalet. The run down, locked from the outside with a padlock, shed...
 
It isn't long before they find out the sinister plans of the locals, who plan to sacrifice them to the leprechaun in return for peace. Now they must escape the savage, blood thirsty beast before they become it's next prey...
 
A pretty unimaginative slasher that is very far removed from its cheesy, comedy predecessors. Some of the action is quite fun, and there's a scene with the fireplace that entertainmed me thoroughly.
 
The monster is so different to the original leprechaun. Played by WWE wrester, Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, he is barely recognisable under a quite immobile facemask.
 
A little gory and silly, but nothing groundbreaking, it's worth a spin with a pizza and some beers on a rainy night.
 
 

Honeymoon

"Honeymoon" (2014, Leigh Janiak, Fewlas Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures) is a slow burning film.
 
A young newlywed couple head off to a cabin in the woods for their honeymoon away from it all. However, the romance soon succumbs to horror when Paul (Harry Treadaway) wakes to find his wife, Bea (Rose Leslie), gone from her bed. He runs out to find her, and things spiral downwards from there. What is watching them through the windows at night?
 
A slow and dull film which, although an impressively shot piece considering its meagre budget, takes way too damn long to get started. I'd also decided within 2 minutes that the "bubbly" Bea was more annoying than quirky. 
 
A really good idea that just doesn't reach any satisfying fruition, the only gore comes too late on to save it. It plays out more like a build up to something much bigger and then doesn't deliver. And after a while the feelings of tenseness and unease are lost.
 
The acting is good, however. And I do love it when movies star a hot red-headed female lead.
 

[Image: Fewlas Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures]
Hani
 

Friday, 5 September 2014

INSPIRACION

"INSPIRACION" (2014, Antonio Clemente, Barry's Kidnapping Films) is a Spanish short suspense film about a writer who is struggling for inspiration for his next book.

His... hooker(?) recommends a person to contact who can guarantee that he will find inspiration. But he might not like what he is asked to do to inspire his imagination.

A very quiet, film noir-esque piece which makes good use of light and fills the 16minute time slot well without trying to be too clever with the budget.

The entire piece is filmed in black and white, but it lends itself well to the kind of suspensful story being told. If you don't mind subtitles, and, like me, you're not scared of independent lower budget pieces, it's a fun international short that I hope will make its way to the UK for some film festivals.


[Image: Antonio Clemente]
Hani
 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

INK

"INK" (2014, Andy Stewart, Shining Example Films, 21st Century Renaissance Man) is the third short film from the twisted and talented mind of Andy Stewart who brought us "Split" (http://horrorev.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/split.html) and its predecessor, the sickeningly squelchy "Dysmorphia" (http://horrorev.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/dysmorphia.html).

As the third installment of Andy's Body Horror collection it is a tough competition, but this one might be my new favourite.

We follow a reclusive nameless man (Sammy Hayman) who has found an interesting and cost effective alternative to being tattooed. Naturally, it's also graphically gory and very dark.

I don't want to spend too much time discussing plot because, like all of the previous films, it's best to go in with no real idea of what is going to happen and let the piece speak for itself. However, I will get nice and chatty about how amazing the makeup and effects are. Grant Mason FX, ladies and gentlemen, now here's a team that can make you wish you'd not bothered with lunch!

Wow. The gore-o-meter was going mental as I watched this. The blood, the goop, the slow, meticulous shots and that bloody stanley blade! Everything from the texture of the effects to the way things bled and oozed was realistic to the point of putting me off my cake. And nothing usually puts me off cake.

The piece is beautifully shot, managing to play with close up angles that make you feel very uncomfortably close to the action.

The character is monstrous but you find yourself feeling for him in his agonies and his terrible and selfish determination to turn his body into art. The end scene is just made with the giggle-sobbing and the sheer despair on the character's face. Truly mesmerising stuff. Hayman creates an outwardly pathetic 'freak' character who's prepared to go to some extreme levels to achieve his goals. His performance brought a sick smile to my face more than once.

A short horror which is paced so well that it feels like a feature, with the viewer both caught intently following the unfolding story and also desperate to look away from the painful sight of it.

An absolute must see. Check out which film festivals are showing this piece of awesome near you!

 
[Image: Shining Example Films]
 
Hani x

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Oculus

"Oculus" (2013, Mike Flanagan, Blumhouse Productions, WWE Studios, Intrepid Pictures, Relativity Media) is a film about a family destroyed by a creepy antique mirror's presence.

Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan) has returned to her childhood home with her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites), who has spent the last 11 years in a psychiatric hospital for killing his father. Kaylie believes that Tim is not responsible for the death of her father, and is convinced that the antique mirror in her parent's study is haunted and the cause of all of their heartache. She intends to prove her brother's innocence once and for all.

We see the film in two timeframes; present day and also Kaylie and Tim's childhood through flashbacks. Slowly, the truth behind the sinister effects of the mirror are unveiled as both adults begin to see ghosts, memories and creepy things.

An old trope done with a modern slant, I thought this film was really well put together and manages to use some old horror cliches without being predictable.

Some of the hallucinations are truly inspired, and the atmosphere is truly very intense with some great camerawork.

The flashbacks also manage not to detract from the film's building dread, and the characters are well written, especially the parents, who we watch slowly come under the dreadful influence of whatever lurks within the looking glass.

It's still freaky to hear Karen Gillan with an American accent, however!

[Image: Intrepid Pictures, et al]
 
Hani

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Deadly Spawn

"The Deadly Spawn" (1983, Douglas McKeown, 21st Century Film Corporation) is a fun, schlocky horror sci-fi film about an alien invasion.
 
An alien crashes onto earth, spawning hundreds of squirmy offspring and devastating an entire family before moving on to the rest of the town. It's up to a small group of teens (lead by a budding scientist) to stop the massacre.
 
With some fun scenes (including some severed arm humour), squirmy phallic-looking monsters, wonderfully awful special effects (one prop is clearly one of those drag-a-long caterpillar creatures you used to get as a kid with a 'spawn' skin draped on top of it!), tainted salad, pseudo science and a lot of goop and teeth, this film wishes it was a poor man's Aliens movie, but no matter how much it's definitely not that, it is a bloody good late night campy B-horror flick worthy of your time.
 
[Image: 21st Century Film Corporation]
 
Hani

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Gingerclown

"Gingerclown" (2013, Balázs Hatvani) is a horror comedy set in 1983.

I add "comedy" in loosest possible way....

A group of unconvincing high school bullies dare Sam (Ashley Lloyd) to go into an abandoned amusement park. One of the bullies' disgruntled girlfriends, Jenny (Erin Hayes), who seems to be growing a conscience, goes in after him, spurring the bullies to follow suit.

Unfortunately, the park is now home to a pack of monstrous creatures who, as well as hating each other, also enjoy torturing and killing hapless humans.

An absolute 'WTF' from the get go. From the forced "bad movie" dialogue from our 'teens' to the foul-mouthed rubber creatures, this film is just not what I expected.

It's like someone said "you know, Tim Curry was terrifying as IT and Brad Dourif really was fantastic as that sweary little dolly... I wonder if they'd voice a scary clown and a gross alien creature for us?" and somehow convinced them, and Lance Henriksen from Aliens, to join the cast! Albeit with voiceovers probably recorded elsewhere...

But that's as far as the creativity went...

From start to end, this film smacked of wanting to make a 'so bad it's good' film, without actually being able to pull it off. The result? So bad it's... well, bad!

The purposefully stilted delivery of all of the lines gives the film an odd feeling. Rather than being 'in the style of the 1980s' it comes across more of someone doing a really bad impression of an 80s film...

The styling of the creatures is fun. From evil tea kettles to head-punting spider monsters, but each scene is the same. It's like walking through a ghost ride with a camera then playing it back to find that you really had to be there to enjoy it.

1) Sam stumbles into new scene
2) Jenny follows
3) awkward conversation about how all the others are dicks/escaping
4) cue monster
5) monster swears a lot and says some crazy stuff (eg. a crap riddle)
6) monster attacks
7) Sam and Jenny escape and move onto next scene
8) Repeat steps 1 - 7

Ginger Clown himself (Tim Curry) doesn't look much like a clown, and doesn't really sound like Tim Curry... Which surely defeats the purpose?

It's very formulaic and I wouldn't sit through it again, but I must commend Mr Hatvani on getting a horror-star studded voiceover cast into his movie, even if the end product is just a horror channel worthy effort.

Hani

Monday, 23 June 2014

Popcorn

"Popcorn" (1991, Mark Herrier, Alan Ormsby, Studio Three Film Corporation) is a fun American horror comedy set in an old theatre.

The Film department at a college is new and lacks funding. The students there, along with their teacher, Mr Davis (Tony Roberts), decide to run a horror marathon in the old cinema in town to raise funds and awareness for the department.

They are helped out by local film memorabilia collector, Mr. Mnesyne (Ray Walston) who helps them decorate the cinema and also provides them with William Castle-esque shlock props (zapping seats for a film about an electrocuted killer, a giant mosquito for a movie about killer mosquitos and some unpleasant aroma therapy mist for a Japanese horror film called "The Stench").

Maggie (Jill Shoelen) is one of the students, and an aspiring screen writer. She's been having some weird dreams about a strange bearded man and plans to write about the dreams in her own movie. However, when the gang come across a strange film reel called "The Possessor" which was filmed by madman, Lanyard Gates (the same bearded man that Maggie was dreaming about), who slaughtered his family live on camera, things become very weird.

Things become stranger still when, on show night, people begin to be killed off one by one by a masked killer. Is it the mental film maker returned? What is Maggie's connection with him? And who will survive the horror fest?

Fun and surprisingly well put together for a film with not only a fledgling director, but where the director was replaced half way through!

The story is engaging and the acting is perfect for a cheesy, but very watchable horror film. The plot is one part reflective fun at older horrors and another part 80s slasher homage.

The film was actually made in Jamaica, not America, so enjoys some interesting music and Maggie's mother is played by scream queen, Dee Wallace.

"Popcorn" manages to pay homage to the shock horror films of the 50s and the gimmicks created by directors of the day, primarily Mr. Castle, who pioneered several interesting cinema gimmicks. However, the slasher (or actual horror) part of the film is pretty standard fare, it does blend well as a film, and the ending result is an entertaining and humorous film.

If you're looking for serious, mind bending horror, look elsewhere, however, as this is very much light entertainment.

[Image: Studio Three Film Productions]
 
Hani

Basket Case 2

"Basket Case 2" (1990, Frank Henenlotter, Synapse Films, Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment) is the sequel to "Basket Case".

We're back in the company of our old pals, Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his deformed, killer siamese twin, Belial Bradley.

The twins are on the run, but seek solace in the home of Granny Ruth (Annie Ross) who runs a home for people with similar deformities to Belial.

This oddly tame and completely off-kilter sequel does not do justice to the first film, which was a fun, if badly put together, low budget schlock fest. This time Belial finds a lady love and the whole film is just a step off of theme too far.

Lame and ridiculous. And I've sat through (and enjoyed) some pretty crappy stuff. 

I also can't help but wonder if the deformities dreamt up in this film helped inspire the Floop's Fooglies in "Spy Kids"....

[Image: Synapse Films]
Hani

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Stitches

"Stitches" (2012, Conor McMahon, Fantastic Films, Tailored Films, MPI Media Group, Irish Film Board) is a British and Irish revenge 'comedy' horror starring comedian Ross Noble as an undead clown, back to reap revenge on the child bullies who brought about his demise now that they are all fornicating teens.

I'm perhaps biased as I find Ross Noble to be less than funny at the best of times, but this gross out film didn't strike a chord with me at all.

While the gore is commendable, inventive and fun, its cartoon-like quality detracts from any scares that could have taken place and Nobel's foul-mouthed, grimy, burnout clown lacks the charisma of most speaking-part slasher killer characters.

The film doesn't feel like a horror or a comedy, and the rude, brash 'humour' is just slapstick and bad language. I'm Scottish, believe me bad language doesn't bother me, but the scriptwriters seemed to be using it here instead of actual comedy.

While the acting cannot be faulted, the hollow plot doesn't create the fun 80s feeling I was hoping for.

Trashy and unfunny... But there's heaps of blood and bodily explosions, if that's what you want. But I bet it read better as a story board, really.


[Image: Fantastic Films]
Hani

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Urban Legend

"Urban Legend" (1998, Jamie Blanks, Original Film, Phoenix Pictures, TriStar Pictures) is your average 90s teen slasher.

Taking all the typical (American) Urban Legends into account, and creating a couple of their own, we follow a group of college students (Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum & Tara Reid) who's number is rapidly depleting, thanks to someone using urban legends to kill them.

A sleepover favourite, this slasher doesn't hold the same punch as it did when I was younger. The plot is very predictable and the gimmick is... well, just that: Gimmicky.

The film's ending is also very odd and highly displeasing. Although I'm sure it seemed ok at the time.

The characters are quite one dimensional, although it is fun seeing Jared Leto and the others in their younger years.

I also felt that Robert Englund was highly underutilised as a character.

Good teen sleepover fodder, but it doesn't survive a revisit.

[Image: TriStar Pictures]
Hani

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Order of the Ram (2013)

"Order of the Ram" (2013, Scott Lyus, Crossroad Pictures, Posh Dinosaur Productions) is a short Satanic cult film from young UK based director, Scott Lyus.

Clocking in at just over 15 minutes this film demonstrates Lyus' potential to create a much longer piece, although it does suffer from some flaws.

Mary (May Kaspar) is a young college student who spends most of her time alone. We're introduced to her in a normal morning as we follow her about her day. The camera work is interesting here with a focus mainly set on Mary, fuzzing out the background slightly so that the audience are drawn to her as the protagonist.

Mary is also apparently a keen nature photographer, a hobby that is destined to put her into an awkward and life threatening situation when she is cornered by the Order of the Ram (a local Satanic cult led by Mother (Danni Scott-White)) who have taken a disturbingly keen interest in Mary.

The Order are convinced that Mary is the ultimate sacrifice required to bring forth Satan, their lord and master. And like all cults, they plan to do just that...

A slow burning film which uses a lot of really nice camera work and a score reminiscent of Hammer Satanic classic B-movies such as "The Devil Rides Out" to tell a story of a lonely girl who becomes entangled in a terrible situation.

The wooded setting is well placed with some nice finishing touches including some wildlife for Mary to photograph.

The approach of Mary in the woods by her captor is successfully menacing. Unfortunately the menace ends here. The subsequent scenes, where the real horror starts, is tarnished slightly by some hollow acting from our cult leader, Mother, who has the most dialogue in the film.

Mary also doesn't give a completely convincing impression of being terrified or putting up much of a fight which takes away from what could have been a very effective scene.

The male teacher, however, plays a really quite creepy character without having to do or say much. He looks completely too happy to be there!

The ending also leaves a feeling of wanting further development. Although a longer feature could focus on what the Order do if they are unsuccessful in achieving their ultimate goal, considering the act it took to find out.... It is abrupt, but it works.

All in all a watchable piece with great potential and very promising for future works with a bigger budget from Mr Lyus.

Catch the film's teaser trailer here: http://youtu.be/vQRYA8SAlRw


[Image: Crossroad Pictures]
Hani


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Nightbreed

"Nightbreed" (1990, Clive Barker, Morgan Creek Productions) is an oddity of a movie, based on Barker's own novella "Cabal".

Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is a bit mental. His frankly evil doctor, Philip Decker (David Cronenberg), has convinced him that he is a murderer. Aaron dreams of a place named Midian where monsters and murderers are accepted. He longs to go there.

A series of events leads Aaron to the acquaintance of Narcisse (Hugh Ross), a deranged killer, who confirms his belief in Midian and tells him how to get there, whilst giving himself a rather extreme facial....

While Boone searches for acceptance amongst the deformed creatures of Midian, his girlfriend Lori, (Anne Bobby) is trying to find him, unsure as to why he has run off and left her in the first place.

A very typically styled film from Barker, with elaborate sets, wonderfully outrageous effects and makeup and some nice gore. Unfortunately, the plot wears out after so long and the main character is dull.

On the whole, "Hellraiser" is a much better film, and "Nightbreed" pales in comparison, however, I, as usual, enjoy the styling and feel of this film and can see why it has reached Cult status.

I'm tempted now to read the Novella as my research has shown Barker is particularly disappointed with the way this film was cut and edited. Perhaps his true vision is much more disturbing. I also have to admit I have not put myself through the much longer "Cabal Cut" of this film...

B-movie cheesiness and a fun evil doctor in Cronenberg. Possibly one of the oddest love stories ever captured on film, and a lot of interesting effects makeup. If you're looking for something to keep you smiling on a rainy day, you can do much, much worse.

[Image: Morgan Creek Productions]
Hani

Monday, 7 April 2014

Haunt

"Haunt" (2013, Mac Carter, QED International, Revolver Picture Company, IFC Midnight) is a haunted house story.

Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) and his family move into a large house in America. He claims the attic bedroom. He befriends his female neighbour, Sam (Liana Liberato), and together they discover that the house has a dark, dark past, some interesting ghost hunting equipment, some unwelcome inhabitants and...  oh yeah, each other, they discover each other.... A whole lot, actually.

Chalk full of tired and worn horror cliches, "Haunt" will spook the young and uninitiated, but will bore the weathered horror fan and annoy anyone looking for a back story, a good twist or some kind of ending....

Nicely shot, the acting is perfectly fine, it's just not a very creative film. Go watch an episode of Supernatural, you'll get more suspense....


[Image: QED International]
Hani

Almost Human

"Almost Human" (2013, Joe Begos, Channel 83 Films & Ambrosino/Delmenico) is an alien abduction movie set in the US.

Mark Fisher (Josh Ethier) is taken, in what turned out to be the best scene of the film, by an alien spaceship. Several years later, he returns a changed man.... or whatever.

His buddy Seth (Graham Skipper) and his ex-girlfriend, Jen (Vanessa Leigh) must now try to stop this rampaging Alien-man.

For a low budget alien flick done by relatively unknowns it's an impressive feat. The effects are admirable and the alien 'roar' is disturbing. It has definitely shown the potential of the director and his team. It doesn't look like a first time effort at all and feels more like an older film.

As a film at a festival, it's forgettable; riddled with bad lines, a slow plot and an overdone theme.

The opening scene is brilliantly done, probably cost most of the film's budget and perhaps raised my hopes a little too high.

[Image: Channel 83 Films]
Hani

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Mindscape

"Mindscape" (2013, Jorge Dorado, Ombra Films, Warner Bros., Studio Canal, Antena 3 Films) aka "ANNA" is a fun and intriquing futuristic psychological thriller.

John (Mark Strong) is a detective with the ability to see into people's minds and memories. He's coming back from forced retirement after a traumatic incident in his own life.

John is given the case of 16 year old Anna to work on. Anna (Taiisa Farmiga, who you may recognise from American Horror Story) is a clever, odd and maniulative teen. It is John's job to enter her memories and decipher whether she is the victim of terrible sexual abuses or a scheming and dangerous sociopath.

A slow burner with a wonderful score and some really artistic but fun to watch 'memory' sequences. The plot keeps moving and growing, keeping the audience's interests piqued as we try to guess the next turn in the tale.

Excellent acting and a quiet but strong script makes this film stand out from other futuristic, mind bending thrillers out there.


[Image: Ombra Films]
Hani

Monday, 24 March 2014

Torment

"Torment" (2013, Jordan Barker, Filmmax Intrernational) is about a father, Cory (Robin Dunne), and his son who go up to their holiday cottage with Cory's new, young wife, Sarah (Katharine Isabelle), in an attempt for young Liam to bond with her. So far, it's not going well.

Things are bound to get worse, however, when they discover that people have been squatting in their home... Recently.

Upon checking out their only neighbouring cottage and finding it suspiciously empty, Cory becomes concerned. But soon, a shocking turn changes the family's lives forever when they discover that they have become the latest hunted prey of an insane family of teddybear mask-wearing killers, hellbent on torture.

A fast and well executed affair with a surprisingly low budget and a good amount of gore, violence and actual characters.

Katharine Isabelle is a favourite of mine and she portrays a fantastically believable female character who is both terrified but capable and doesn't spend the whole flick either screaming or inexplicably kicking ass as if she's Buffy Summers.

Dunne creates a good father character, humanised by his desire to both welcome his new wife into his home and desperate for his son to accept her.

The kid is fantastic. He's a little shit, but he's got good reason.

On the whole the action is great. I wasn't too excited about the reasoning behind the masked 'father's' obsession with tormenting people and building his own little death family, but watching the aftermath was fun.

A film that does what it sets out to do without getting too precious about it.

A definite highlight at Glasgow Film4 Fright Fest!

 
[Image: Filmmax International]
Hani

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Scribbler

"The Scribbler" (2014, John Suits, Caliber Media Company, New Artists Alliance) is a film based on a graphic novel by Daniel Schaffer (who also wrote the film, so I presume it must be close to the resource material, but I can't say for certain, having never read it...)

The pulls for me were Whedon alumni, Eliza Dushku and Michelle Trachtenberg, a small part played by The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar and the fact that I enjoy other graphic novel inspired film and TV (Sin City, The Walking Dead, Watchmen, V for Vendetta...) unfortunately, this film is more of a "Suckerpunch" than a "Watchmen" grade, a film that I think packed as much punch as watching your friends play "Bayonetta" while you sit bored on the sofa and drink most of a bottle of Jack Daniels (my old Friday night plans), hoping that they'll tire of watching the protagonists' voluptuous booty bouncing about while they stomp their opponents with giant footwear. Alas, they did not.

Done in the, now apparently accepted style of 'Graphic Novel-esque', we have the cartoonish tones and shades, quiet scenes, odd characters and an undercurrent of detective novella going on.

The plot is simple, the characters are weird and combined, I'm sure they read to make an interesting and intriguing tale. Unfortuntately, I just found the weirdness of the characters unncessary and the plot to seem to need more explaining... Also, I maintain that this is not horror.

Suki (Katie Cassidy) has multiple personalities. She has been released from the mental institute to prove herself by living in the 'sheltered housing' style tower block. She gets there to find that it's a rundown shithole where people seem to be committing suicide on a daily basis.

As she undergoes her odd shocktreatment which rids her of her extra personalities, one strong personality begins to manifest itself more and more; The Scribbler. This personality cannot speak, has longer hair than Suki and scribbles notes and drawings all over the place.

Suki becomes concerned that The Scribbler plans to rub her out and become the dominant personality and asks her promiscuous pal, Hogan (Garret Dillahunt), to help her.

Unfortunately, another of the inmates, Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg) is out to get her....

Odd and too long, the action scenes and infrequent humour were not enough pay off for the long and arduous wait through all the quiet, so-sharp-it-might-cut-itself, dialogue.

Good cast, nicely shot but on the whole not a terribly exciting film.



[Image: New Artist Alliance]
Hani

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Video Nasties: Draconian Days

"Video Nasties: Draconian Days" (2014, Jake West) is a documentary about the days after the 1984 Video Recordings Act in the UK and the strict censorship laws and crazy underground horror scene it spawned.

We actually owe the UK censors a lot to be honest. Without their crazy, hyper paranoid and restrictive ways we would never have enjoyed a vast and colourful underground scene which created the horror festivals and allowed some truly awesome friendships to form over a shared love of gore, boobs and being a little bit naughty.

When you look at today's cinema entries, especially the modern horror scene, you're left wondering how the censors could have possibly thought such things as "The Driller Killer" to be worthy of banning, but remember, times have changed.

Nowadays, with the internet an' all, the censors just don't have as much effect as they once did, and it's a damn good thing too.

This documentary will open your eyes to how crazy these times were in the UK, and how much power the censors were allowed, especially certain individuals, under the guise of 'it's for your own good'.

A few good scenes, archive footage and trailers are spotted througout, and we enjoyed that the producers, director, writer etc were all our hosts of the wonderful Fright Fest itself!

It should give you insight, if like me you have not lived through this era, into those times and give you a much greater appreciation for your peers and elders as a UK horror fan. For other non-UK residents, this should certainly raise some eyebrows!

Fun and informative.


Hani

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Afflicted

"Afflicted" (2013, Cliff Prowse, Derek Lee, Automatik Entertainment,Téléfilm Canada) is a 'found footage', relatively low budget horror with some excellent jumps.

Two mates (the asforementioned Cliff and Derek, playing themselves) are on a hiatus from college to go on a Eurotrip. They get as far as Paris before an encounter with a lovely lady leaves the rest of their trip tainted by an increasingly nightmarish situation. 

The film builds similarly to its peers but with a charmingly good sense of unease and an excellent and appropriate amount of gore.

The camera work is great, not giving too much of that motion sickness I've come to expect from such films and the story telling is good, if a little long in the build up.

The plot manages to breathe some life into an old story and bring it into today's culture with great ease and style.

The best way to enjoy this film is to go in knowing as little as possible and let the events unfold. 

A fun and creative endeavour from two young and talented film makers. A very good highlight in the ~Glasgow Film 4 Fright Fest 2014 lineup.

[Image: Automatik Entertainment]
Hani

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Sacrament

"The Sacrament" (Ti West, Eli Roth, Worldview Entertainment, Arcade Pictures) is a found footage film about the goings on behind the scenes of a secluded religious commune.
 
We follow two reporters (Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen) and fashion photographer, Patrick (Kentucker Audley), who are travelling to the 'Earth paradise' that is the Eden Parish commune, where Patrick's sister, Caroline (Amy Seimetz) has been living since getting over her drug addiction.
 
The Commune is run by charismatic and freaky leader, Father (Gene Jones), who is keen for Patrick to 'visit'. However, the staunch security the three men are faced with is daunting and they soon begin to suspect something sinister is going on in the idyllic farming community.
 
A tense, sometimes funny and engaging slow burner, which builds up to a dramatic climax. The characters are interesting (especially for a found footage style film) and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
 
It's more of a dark thriller than an all-out horror, however, and draws very much from the horrifying real story of Jonestown, bringing a very melancholy feeling and poignancy to the film.
 
[Image: Arcade Pictures]
 
Hani

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wolf Creek 2

"Wolf Creek 2" (2014, Greg McLean, Duo Art Productions, Emu Creek Pictures, Image Entertainment) is the sequel to 2005's Wolf Creek. 

I haven't actually seen Wolf Creek, but I can assure you that that doesn't really matter. The plot is pretty self-explanatory, and no prior knowledge or character backstory is really important. 

Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) is an Australian serial killer with a dislike for... pretty much everyone. But, most importantly, he's not fond of cops or tourists. He drives a big truck (or whatever he can lay his hands on, if the situation calls for it) in which he also chops up his prey.

Two German tourists, Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn) and Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) are backpacking in the outback when they happen upon Mick. Katarina escapes and seeks the help of British tourist, Paul (Ryan Corr), dragging the poor guy into an experience he won't forget as Mick begins to also hunt him.

Well acted, suitably tense with fun special effects this hyper violent film is chalk full of one liners and is gratifyingly gory. I enjoyed this slasher flick as part of the Fright Fest line up but I doubt it would stand so well as a single view as there isn't much to differentiate it from its competition. 

It doesn't break any barriers, attempt to stretch the viewer's imagination or get too thick into a plot. This is a simple, straightforward killing spree at the hands of a xenophobic psychopath with a sense of humour and a questionable taste in music.

Fun, gory, fast. But not the best slasher ever.


[Image: Emu Creek Pictures]
Hani

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Proxy

"Proxy" (2013, Zach Parker) is a film about a young pregnant woman called Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) who is attacked outside of her doctor's office by a hooded assailant and loses her baby.
 
She begins attending support groups and encounters another grieving mother, Melanie (Alexa Havins), who could be as damaged as she is...
 
Actually the film is about so much more than that but that would be giving an awful lot away.
 
Definitely not a horror film, this chiller is a weird, artistic and violent piece which enjoys some gore, splatter and a shockingly brutal opening scene.
 
There's also a good change in direction, but on the whole the film is very slow to unfold. If you're prone to letting your mind wander you may be unable to sit through the whole slow burning mystery-ride.
 
However, if you go in with only a vague notion, you can certainly enjoy watching this odd and intense plot unfold.
 
 
Hani

Monday, 3 March 2014

Film4 Fright Fest - Glasgow 2014

FrightFest Glasgow 2014 (Film 4, Glasgow Film Festival, 28th February - 1st March 2014).

Last weekend was the annual Film4 FrightFest at the Glasgow GFT cinema, Scotland, in the city centre. This was my second year attending the festival and I was not disappointed.

A collection of 11 new films from a variety of directors (known and relatively unknown alike) were shown over the 2 days.

There were freebies (although I didn't manage to snag any this year) and tee-shirts (£15) which I sadly had neglected to order beforehand.

Directors, including Ti West, came along to watch and discuss their new films (Mr. West was also spotted on-and-off throughout the rest of the festival).

Q&As were had, cheering was rife and the riotous giggling of many horror fans enjoying a bloody  on-screen explosion was a delight to behold.

Our hosts, as usual, gave an excellent show. Everything ran on time and the GFT's relocation of the bar to just behind the screen was an inspired idea.

I'll follow this up with some reviews, but not all at once... One of these years I'll venture down to London for the full FrightFest experience!

In fact the only disappointment after last year was that there was nothing quite as good as "Hellfjord" being shown in-between films!

http://www.frightfest.co.uk/


Hani

Friday, 28 February 2014

Savaged

"Savaged" (2013, Michael S. Ojeda) is a rape-revenge story which explores some pretty dark themes but manages to create a funny and gory film.

A pretty deaf mute girl called Zoe (Amanda Adrienne) heads out on a road trip to move in with her fiancé. As she goes she documents her trip with her camera phone. A habit that both saves and condemns her.

A near miss on the road causes her to stop and she's taken by surprise by a group of American Indian-hating red necks who have sickening plans for her, ending in her death.

She's found by a witch doctor who tries to revive her with magic, but what comes back is so much more than Zoe, and it's out for revenge.

The film touches on several dark themes: rape, racism, murder, black arts, the destruction of the indigenous race of the USA, brutality towards women and police corruption.

But "Savaged" is not a cerebral or preachy film. It's a self-aware, gory, silly horror with lots of action, excellent gore effects (a scene with barbed wire will stick with you for a while) and an interesting, if completely batshit, plot.

It's an odd mix of rape-revenge, zombiism, spirit warriors and comedy gore. The feel is a cross between The Crow, I Spit on Your Grave and an x-rated episode of Goosebumps (I blame the green mist for that last comparison, an effect that was often used in the children's horror show).

While nothing new, it's entertaining and a good first film at Glasgow Fright Fest 2014.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Funhouse

"The Funhouse" (1981, Tobe Hooper, Universal Pictures) is an American slasher.

A group of teen couples decide to sneak into the travelling carnival's Ghost Train, or "Funhouse", for an overnight romp only to witness a murder and then have to run from the deformed killer and his travelling family!

Pretty standard slasher fare, I was surprised to find it was a post-Chainsaw Tobe Hooper film. However, there are a few laughs, an enjoyable deformed mask (complete with slobber) and a pretty good axe through the head scene.

The setting is always going to be a winner with creepy sideshows and spook house nonsense and the simple plot lends itself well to the setting and doesn't try to go into any backstory.

A simple, pleasing, if slow, slasher film. Not Hooper's best, but still a good fright night movie.

[Image: Universal Pictures]
 
Hani

Friday, 21 February 2014

Beyond Re-Animator

"Beyond Re-Animator" (2003, Filmax International, Lionsgate Entertainment, Castelao Producciones, Fantastic Factory, Brian Yuzna) is the third Re-Animator film.

We find Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) in prison using meagre scraps in order to continue his experiments on rats. A young new doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry), joins as prison MD and reveals himself as interested in West's research for personal reasons. His personal reasons get a load more personal, however, when the pretty young journalist he's dating, Laura (Elsa Pataky), is killed and reanimated.

West's rat experiments have opened the door to him to allow him to control his reanimated creations further, but the results can be messy when he is reunited with his neon green concoction....

Soon the prison is overrun with violent reanimated zombies and under the control of the psychotic reanimated Warden (Simón Andreu). Oh, and there's also a vicious zombie rat cutting about with a severed human zombie penis....

Yes, this is a OTT, hilarious, gore-soaked splatter romp, just as its predecessors were. No complaints here. It's brilliant. Not a cerebral film, but wonderfully silly. Combs brings back West in all his glory.

 
 
[Image: Castelao Producciones]
Hani

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Split

"Split" (2014, Andy Stewart, Shining Example Films) is a short horror film from the talented Scottish director and writer, Andy Stewart.

Last year I blogged about another of Andy's body horror short films, the wonderfully raw and sickening "Dysmorphia" you can find that here: http://horrorev.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/dysmorphia.html

An unnamed man (Austin Hayden) awakes alone in bed. It soon becomes apparant that he and his girlfriend (Shian Denovan) have split up. As the plot unfolds we become more aware that he is to blame for the breakup and that he is slowly being cosumed by his guilt.

He begins to become ill as his guilt manifests itself physcially. From pustules to losing body bits, the effects are vomit-inducingly detailed and realistic, steering clear of gore-fest cheapness.

As his condition worsens we're treated to flashbacks to his relationship. The use of lighting in the different time zones is really effective. And the scoring is excellently timed and very haunting.

With a larger budget this time less is left to our imagination, and we enjoy some gruesome physical effects teamed with the same powerful use of sound that Andy's technique demonstrated in "Dsymorphia".

More artistic and eerie than the more shocking storytelling style used in "Dysmorphia", "Split" creates a different, sadder atmosphere and again, keeps the audience enthralled for the full 18 minute run-time despite the some truly queezy moments!

Fantastic! You have to check out this film!

 
 
[Image: Shining Example Films]
Hani

Monday, 10 February 2014

Maniac (2012)

"Maniac" (2012, Franck Khalfoun, IFC Midnight, La Petite Reine) is a remake of the 1980s slasher of the same name.

Frank (Elijah Wood) is a mentally deranged mannequin restorer. Scarred by his upbringing with his prostitute mother, he suffers terrible desires to kill and targets young women. We see mostly through his eyes in this well shot film. Frank stalks, kills and scalps his victims, taking home their hair to staple to the heads of his chosen mannequins in order to create his own female companions. He soon turns his attentions to Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a beautiful French artist who's looking to use some mannequins for her exhibition, becoming obsessed with her.

A brutal and graphic film with excellent special effects and gore, and a fair amount of tension. As we see mostly all scenes from Frank's perspective, we are privy to his battle with his inner turmoil and his hallucinations. The film is uncomfortable and disturbed, but because we see it from the murderer's perspective, we don't get many surprises.

Wood delivers a horrifyingly real character who we understand, but for whom we feel no pity.

A modern slasher which keeps it simple and brutal with an excellent soundtrack, "Maniac" is one you can't look away from.

[Image: La Petite Reine]
Hani

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Black Sheep

"Black Sheep" (2006, Jonathan King, The New Zealand Film Commission, Icon Productions) is a horror comedy about killer-zombie-were-sheep.

Henry (Nathan Meister) has a sheep phobia. Which is a shame because he comes from a long line of sheep farmers. He's returned home to the farm to arrange land ownership with his sheep farming brother, Angus (Peter Feeney). Unbeknownst to Henry, Angus has been doing some mad science as well as sheep farming and has created some Jekyll and Hyde style potion which turns sheep into carniverous killers who's bite turn humans into deformed, blood thirsty, man-sheep hybrids. Henry must face his phobia and help fight to restore normality.

A fairly creative concept with a lot of gore and some fun puppetry. Sadly, I just didn't find the farce funny and the script didn't really merit a feature-length film.

The characters were annoying. I get the whole idea that the tree-huggers were meant to be annoying, but really the half-assed hippy banter got irritating after the first half.

The pacing was also not great, and there wasn't enough humour to keep it going.

Not funny, not clever, not engaging. I really don't understand all the online rave reviews out there!

[Image: The New Zealand Film Commission]
Hani