Tuesday, 29 September 2015

We are still here

"We are still here" (2015, Ted Geoghegan, Snowfort Pictures, Dark Sky Films) is an American haunted house film which was inspired by the works of Lucio Fulci, and has a certain Lovecraftian atmosphere about it.

It's 1979 and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (Barbara Crampton) have moved to a new, remote house away from their busy city home after the untimely death of their son, Bobby, in a car accident. Anne feels that Bobby's spirit is still with them and she's becoming unsettled by this. In an attempt to settle themselves, they invite their friends, May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden), who are self professed psychics, over to the house to contact Bobby. As things unwind further and more and more spooky occurrences take place, it becomes evident that there is a lot more to this house than previously imagined...

A fantastic film which keeps a steady, haunting pace and lets you in on the plot nicely as it thickens. The effects are fantastic in their gore and their surprise factor, with some very effective jump scares which are not too tropey. The scares are genuine and the characters are likeable, three dimensional and captivating. You begin to care about what's going on. And finally, an on-screen possession outside of an episode of "Supernatural" which felt scary!

My hat's off for this film, I genuinely loved it.

[Image: Snowfort Pictures]

Monday, 28 September 2015


"Cooties" (2015, Cary Murnion, SpectreVision, Glacier Films, Liongate Premiere) is a zombie kid horror comedy set in an elementary school.

The school is located in an area called F.t. Chicken, Illinois, where a young girl is seen to eat a tainted chicken nugget (which we were lucky enough to see the entire process of in the first scene). This girl then goes on to infect other children in the school.

Clint Hadson (Elijah Wood) is a struggling writer who is subbing as an elementary teacher to pay the  bills. He has the lucky task of dealing with a bunch of badly behaved 4th graders, made only better by the outbreak of the maddening, bloodthirsty disease.

This film is a little weird. All of the teachers are ridiculously quirky and odd and the disease only appears to infect children, meaning that the film unfolds into an entertaining, zombified Children of the Corn scenario. The characters are possibly too caricature-ish to care too much about, but on the whole the film is gross, silly and entertaining. There were also very self-aware jabs at Elijah Wood (who owns SpectreVision, coincidentally) throughout.

Whilst it's a bit of a one-trick pony, "Cooties" delivers some light-hearted, gory fun.

[Image: SpectreVision]

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Sleepaway Camp

"Sleepaway Camp" (1983, Robert Hiltzik, American Eagle Films, United Film Distribution Company) is a slasher set at an American summer camp.

Since the summer is drawing to a close, I thought I'd see it out with an old favourite. Angela (Felissa Rose) was very young when her brother and father were killed in a motorboat accident on the lake. She now lives with her eccentric aunt and her cousin, Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). Angela is very quiet and introverted and doesn't speak much. This makes her a target for bullying when she and her cousin arrive at summer camp.

As soon as camp begins mysterious deaths and accidents begin to happen, all linked in some way to Angela and anyone who is bothering her. This film covers some quite shocking subjects including a paedophile chef, rape, camp bullies, bad camp staff and gender identity. All while also delivering some truly campy gore. Pardon the pun.

By far the most memorable part of this film is its infamous twist ending which still holds some punch to this day, despite its confusing sub-plot. While the film is tropey and definitely sits on the exploitation movie shelf, it covers some unsettling ground.

[Image: American Eagle Films]

Monday, 14 September 2015

Bloodsucking Bastards

"Bloodsucking Bastards" (2015, Fortress Features, MTY Productions, Brian James O'Connell) is a vampire comedy romp set in a failing office environment.

Evan (Fran Kranz) is acting sales manager. He's trying hard, but his team are unmotivated wasters who don't really want to do any work. He's even more demoralised when he's completely overlooked for a promotion and his girlfriend, Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), dumps him when he fails to say "I love you" back.

These may be the least of Evan's worries, however, when he begins to notice certain changes around the office... With Frank, the kickass security guard who drinks too much red bull (Marshall Givens), and his lazy best pal, Tim (Joey Kern), can Evan stop the horrors in the office, win back his lady and save the day?

My crush on Fran Kranz aside, this film was great. It's funny, it's self-aware, it rates high on the gore score, it's engaging, it boasts entertaining characters and is well put together... Essentially this is one of those films you see at a horror festival and think 'yes, this is what I came here to discover'.

[Image: Fortress Features, et al]

Saturday, 12 September 2015


"976-EVIL" (1988, Robert Englund, New Line Cinema) is a film about two cousins who call a mysterious 'horror-scope' number which is actually operated by the devil to trick mortals into turning to the dark side.

Spike (Patrick O'Bryan) is a rebellious teen who likes to strut about in leather jackets, ride his motorcycle, date rocker chicks and play a lot of poker... badly. His little cousin, Hoax (Stephen Geoffreys, best known as Evil Ed from "Fright Night"), is little more nerdy, rides a scooter, wishes he was tougher and lives with his overbearing, fundamentalist Christian mother, Lucy (Sandy Dennis); who wears way too many wigs. Lucy lets her nephew live in a granny flat on her property, but she disapproves of his lifestyle while she also holds his inheritance money hostage.

Both Spike and Hoax come across the phone number and call it. Spike thinks it's all a big joke, and stops calling, but Hoax begins to work out what's going on and seizes the opportunity to pay back his bullies and get a girlfriend at the measly cost of his soul.

This film is in the 'just-bad' category. The scenes are long and drawn out and the action is extremely slow. There's just not enough horror in his horror film. The premise is promising, but there just wan't enough delivered to make it a good 'bad' film. Robert Englund directed this and one other film, "Killer Pad" in 2008. There's definitely a reason for this.

It's cheesy and 80s and has Stephen Geoffreys in it, usually that would check all the boxes for me, but this film is just not one I'd watch again.

[Image: New Line Cinema]

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Chopping Mall

"Chopping Mall" aka "Killbots" (1986, Jim Wynorski, Concorde Pictures) is a cheesy 80s B-movie horror about some teens who get locked inside a shopping mall and are being hunted by the mall's futuristic, robotic security guards.

Like Robocop's demented half cousins who failed the police academy entrance exam one too many times, these 'state of the art' security robots had trouble written all over them. From the lasers (why, even?) to their menacing look, these polite little guys were clearly going to rampage. I don't think they even needed lightening to help them go nuts!

The music is so 80s it actually hurts and the teens are suitably annoying enough to be robot fodder. The plot is simple and functional and the action is hilarious. We have head explosions, death by fire, laser beams, shoot outs and panic attacks. It's really just a perfect example of how so-bad-it's-good B-movies should be done.


[Image: Concorde Pictures]

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Asylum

 "The Asylum" aka "Exeter" and "Backmask"  (2015, Marcus Nispel, Studio Canal releasing) is one of the films I missed by not attending Glasgow Fright Fest earlier this year. And I have to say, I must be missing something because I didn't think it was really anything special, but I seem to be in the minority here!

We open to a woman committing suicide before we are introduced to the "Exeter School for the feeble minded", an asylum which has been abandoned for some time. The place is about to be renovated by Father Conway (Stephen Lang), but his young friend, Patrick (Kelly Blatz), puts a stopper in the works by being unable to convince his pals not to have a big ol' party in the place. Knowing Exeter School has a dark past, the gang of course decide to play some vinyl backwards and play "light as a feather, stiff as a board", while also drinking, shagging and taking some drugs.... And this brings some demons to the surface who then go all "Evil Dead" on their asses by possessing them one after another.

Now let's get this straight, there are some good things going on in this film. It's a good setting, the kill scenes are admirably gory, very realistic and creative, the demonic effects are effective and the acting is good enough. My main problem with this film was that I was bored and felt like I was watching a remake of several other possession movies merged together.

Whilst it's nigh on impossible to make a possession movie without paying coincidental (or completely on purpose) homage to "The Exorcist", this film felt like they'd also lifted chunks of scene from "Evil Dead", "Night of the Demons" and many other possessed-teen films. It was way too tropey to fully appreciate and played out as a remake, despite not actually being one...

All in all, it's a perfectly serviceable horror film and there's nothing at all wrong with it, it's just not anything new or special. The fact that people are raving about it online kind of indicates to me more that we've had a serious lack of new and original horror recently!

[Image: Studio Canal Releasing]

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Body Bags

"Body Bags" (1993, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, 187 Corp., Showtime Networks) is a made for TV horror anthology set in a morgue. The film was initially meant to become a weekly show similar to "Tales from the Crypt" but was axed, and so the completed pieces were pieced together into an anthology.

A creepy coroner (John Carpenter) sets us up for each segment, inspired by the bodies he uncovers from the bags. There are three tales all-in:

The Gas Station
Anne (Alex Datcher) is a student starting her new part time job as the overnight petrol station attendant. As if that job is not just creepy enough, she has to deal with knowing that a dangerous lunatic has escaped the asylum (she was kindly warned by her new colleague, Bill (Robert Carradine)). Soon all of her customers appear to be a little strange and Anne is frantic, not knowing who could be the killer! Horror hero cameos include Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, David Naughton, George Buck Flower and Molly Cheek).

The short is a bit of a lark with so many horror favourites gracing the screen with their nutty characters and a fair bit of bludgeoning. While it's your typical 'lone woman being stalked by a serial killer' plot, it's fun in its familiarity and really kicks off the film.

Richard (Stacy Keach) is hitting middle age. His girlfriend, Megan (Sheena Easton), is getting exasperated by Richard's obsession with his looks and his quickly thinning locks. In his desperation, Richard signs up for a hair transplant operation which appears successful. Maybe a little too successful...

A bit of a laugh with some effects that aged a little, but add to the charm of the film. I thought I knew where this one was going but after a point it changes tack slightly which pleased me. Yes, it's hardly 'scary' but I don't watch old anthologies for scare factor, they're purely for comedy. Cameos include Debbie Harry and David Warner as the mad doctor and his nurse.

Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill) is a baseball player. He is involved in a car accident where his eye is gouged out. Brent opts for some experimental surgery that is not considered so sci-fi these days, and receives an eye transplant in the hopes that he can return to his beloved game. But, similarly to the later 2002 and 2008 Singaporean and American blockbusters both called "The Eye", he begins to see things that are not there through the new eye: horrible things. Brent becomes suspicious that his new eye belonged to a killer and goes back to the doctor to investigate. Brent realises that there is only one way to end this problem... Cameos include Twiggy and Roger Corman.

A few gruesome bits make this one entertaining but it was admittedly my least favourite short of the three. In retrospect this one seems very tropey, but it's not its fault; it came first afterall!

We end back in the morgue where our creepy coroner reveals he is more than at first appears.

The film comes off as surprisingly low budget, but this may just be a sign of ageing SFX. While it's nothing new in terms of plot or set up, it's a playful horror anthology and is funny, self aware and even a little gruesome at times. Team this one with Creepshow 1 and you're onto a bloody good night in!

[Image: 187 Corp.]