Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

"Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" (2015, Christopher Landon, Broken Road Productions, Brucks Entertainment, Oops Doughnuts Productions) is a zombie horror comedy.

A small group of scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) head out on their last camp, with full intentions of ditching the overnight and heading to a much cooler "seniors secret party" happening in town. A zombie outbreak puts a stop to their plans and they have to take down as many zombies as possible with the help of an ass-kicking barmaid from the local strip club (Sarah Dumont).

A pretty predictable horror comedy gross-out with a really promising and engaging set up which quickly becomes very samey and joins the other primordial soup of 'zombie comedy horrors' already out there.

The acting is good, the characters are even pretty likeable and funny, but sadly there's only so much that cheesy one-liners, zombie kitties (and tits) and buckets of gore can do in a genre so overdone as the zombie comedy horror genre.

[Image: Broken Road Productions, et al]

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

"Let's Scare Jessica to Death" (1971, John D. Hancock, Paramount Pictures, The Jessica Company) is a film about an emotionally fragile woman who is experiencing strange visions and nightmares.

Jessica (Zohra Lampert) is recovering from a meltdown. She and her husband, Duncan (Barton Hayman), and their friend, Woody (Kevin O'Connor), have all given up their jobs and moved out to a farm in Connecticut known to the locals as 'The Ol' Bishop Place'.

Upon arriving there, they discover a squatter called Emily (Mariclare Costello) living in the house. Being 70s free spirits, they decide to let Emily stay because she can play guitar and stuff... Oh, and Woody fancies her.

Jessica is scared to tell the others, in case they think she's going crazy again, but she's begun to hear voices, see a mysterious blonde girl in a white dress and has been grabbed by pale, grasping hands under the water when swimming. When she's told an eerie tale by a local, she begins to see things fall in to place... or is it all just in her mind?

A slow chiller with a twisty and slightly confusing plot. This film is very much of its time, but still manages to have a few nice chilling scenes. On the whole, however, the title promises things that the end product does not deliver. And the story is definitely not what I was anticipating!

[Images: Paramount Pictures]

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Don't Open 'til Christmas

"Don't Open 'til Christmas" (1984, Edmund Purdom, Spectacular Trading International, 21st Century Film Corporation) is an English holiday slasher.

It's Christmas time and someone wearing a translucent mask is going around killing anyone dressed as Santa. One of the Santas is killed in front of his daughter, Kate (Belinda Mayne) who is then determined to find out who's behind it. Chief Inspector Ian Harris (Edmund Purdom) is also on the case, but something familiar is getting in his way to solving the mystery...

A cheesy B-Movie directed by and starred by Edmund Purdom (whom I know from my favourite B-movie gorefest, "Pieces"). It's wooden, silly and, as usual, a little transfixed with the porn and sleaze side of the city. The predictable scenes are humorous to watch due to their sheer ridiculousness. If you enjoy watching random guys dressed as Santa getting killed by an unconvincing machete, or having their members cut off in the men's bathroom, this film is for you!

A silly plot, with an equally silly motive, this fairly woeful film is definitely in the so-bad-but-can't-look-away pile.

[Image: Spectacular Trading International]

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Goodnight, Mommy

"Ich Seh, Ich Seh" aka "Goodnight, Mommy" (2015, Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH) is a slow burning horror from Austria.

Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) and Elias (Elias Schwarz) are twin boys who have come to live with their mother in her ultra-modern, secluded house. Their mother (Susanne Wuest) has undergone some serious facial surgery and the boys begin to suspect that the person under the bandages is not actually her.

A really quite disquieting film with a horrifying and engaging plot. The boys and Wuest give a really excellent performance as the dysfunctional family. The viewer is intrigued as the strange scene becomes more and more disturbing until the boys are forced to find answers.

Nicely simple effects, slight variations on horror tropes and a secluded setting give this film a quiet and suspenseful, arthouse-y feel.

I really enjoyed this film and it left me with a slightly ghostly feeling which was hard to shake,

[Image: Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH]

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


"Eraserhead" (1977, David Lynch, American Film Institute, Libra Films International) is a surrealist, body horror film from the mind of David Lynch during his studies.

Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) lives in a run-down, industrial city in a small apartment. He has strange dreams about the Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near) and the Man in the Planet (Jack Fisk). He is informed by the Beautiful Girl From Across the Hall (Judith Anna Roberts) that his girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart), has invited him for dinner with her family. He goes to her strange little home and meets her strange parents; her overly familiar mother (Jeanne Bates) and talkative father (Allen Joseph). They don't get to eat any dinner because when they try to carve the 'bird', it begins to twitch and bleed. Mary's mother informs Henry that Mary has had a child and that it is his.

Soon, Henry and Mary are in his little apartment caring for their child; a swaddled, crying creature with an inhuman appearance. When the child won't quieten down, Mary goes back to her parents' leaving Henry alone.

After further strange dreams, Henry cuts open the child's swaddling to reveal its true form.

A strange film, it manages to be both grotesque and beautiful. The dreamlike quality of the styling and the black and white colouring create a strange and surreal dreamscape in which the film is set. Everything is slightly unfamiliar and odd. It's a real study in human strangeness and in the urban decay in which many of us surround ourselves. A strange, uncomfortable film, it is a classic within its own right and spawned much of the outlandish scenes present in films since.

[image: American Film Institute]