Friday, 28 February 2014


"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]

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]

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


"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:

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]

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]

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]

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


"Excision" (2012, Richard Bates, Jr., BXR Productions, Anchor Bay Films) is an odd film about a creepy teenaged girl with delusions of becoming a surgeon.

Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) is an 18 year old girl who lives with her overbearing, religious mother (Traci Lords), her scaredy cat father (Roger Bart) and her bright and friendly younger sister, Grace (Ariel Winter), who has cystic fibrosis.

Pauline is an odd girl with ratty hair, an angry demeanor, a history of bad behaviour and a serious lack of moral compass. She aspires to become a surgeon and experiences sexual excitement from blood, conveyed to us her disturbed dreams. She also enjoys practising her surgical technique on herself and on roadkill. The only person who likes her is her younger sister who's health is quickly failing her.

Pauline is an eccentric, mentally disturbed outcast. The character should echo Carrie, but McCord's sinister performance and creepy 'makeover' really create a different kind of antagonist. Unlike in Carrie, Pauline isn't really a victim, although she is still a missunderstood girl. Pauline doesn't care that she's outcast, she doesn't have any remorse and she doesn't comprehend that what she's doing is wrong (why would she, she's cleared it with god first?!).

The gory dream scenes are odd. While they show the diversity of McCord, they lost my interest after a while, but they are very beautifully shot.

The build up is slow, but I enjoyed the journey with this creepy girl. Her demented beliefs and delusions become evident early on, but the finale is really hard-hitting. Not for the faint hearted, this teenage psycho-drama/dark comedy is an interesting watch. Like Carrie meets Donnie Darko, but with less superpowers and more gore.

Not everyone's cup of tea, but interesting in its uniqueness.

[Image: Anchor Bay Films]