Sunday, 25 December 2011

Editorial : Horror Hotel Managements 'Christmas Antidote'


Its that time of year again when huge corporations hook your children in with a barrage of advertising media, and your already half empty wallet is bled dry in the name of material possession. It's that time of year again when your drug-addict uncle throws up all over your X-Box, and your drunken father lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that you were a ripped condom, and have impoverished him ever since. A time for unwanted gifts to be received and over-expensive gifts to be given in order to save face. A time for burned Turkey dinners, and overdosing on Disney movies till the stinging sugar pours from your eyeballs.

Yep, its Christmas. The most stressful time of the year for the poor among us, and the most fun time of year for the Wal-mart, Tesco and Amazon shareholders of the world. Hallelujah, indeed.....

Monday, 19 December 2011

Review : Retreat (2011)


Director:

Carl Tibbetts

I remember vividly the first time I saw ROSEMARY'S BABY.

It wasn't so much the concept, or even the terrifying final moments, that struck such a strong chord with me. Instead, it was the sense I had of being completely doubtful of all that was taking place, while watching it. I was questioning everything. Rosemary's sanity, her husbands motivations, her neighbours strange, overbearing behaviour. I had absolutely no idea who the good guys were and who, (if any) the bad guys were. It was a wonderful feeling, to experience a movie from exactly the perspective the director intends you do. The feeling of questioning everything was intoxicating, and the pay-off was so expertly handled, I immediately proclaimed its director, Roman Polanski, a 'master of suspense', ( of course, everyone else already knew this. I was rather late to the party)  Had I known his work I would've known just how well he could pull my psychological strings. For the duration of that movie, he owned me.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review : Little Deaths (2011)




Sometimes I feel like I'm from a different planet, friendo's. If anyone knows directions to Earth, draw me a fucking map, will ya?!

I had read nothing but good things about LITTLE DEATHS, and had even been recommended it by a very close, very drunk and very enthusiastic friend. Most of the more established Horror websites have proclaimed it a worthy addition to the much beloved 'Horror-Anthology' sub-genre. Some have claimed it has depth, style, great acting, satisfying stories and its fair share of gore-filled set pieces.

Well, I'm not buying any of that shit...

I love a good Horror Anthology. At least I have that in common with my peers. I mean, who doesn't love those short sharp blasts of Horror? The broadly drawn characters, the inevitable (twisted) twist in the tale, the cornucopia of well-known faces and the literal guarantee of at least two or three payoffs. They resemble nothing so much as E.C's 50's Horror comics writ large, and when done properly, they can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Review : Hostel 3 (2011)

 

Director:

Scott Spiegel

Writers:

Michael D. Weiss, Eli Roth (characters)

While attending a bachelor party in Las Vegas, four friends are enticed by two sexy escorts to join them at a private party way off the Strip. You know the rest, or do you....?

HOSTEL 3 has arrived, and its a DTV movie. The third in a series that looked dead in the water, and made on very limited financing...its must be terrible, right? Wrong.

Its by no means a classic, but HOSTEL 3 is a solid example of the dominance of imagination over finance. This film feels far more expansive than it has any right to, as it's clearly underfunded. It may have the look of a DTV movie, but its has ideas far bigger than that, and Director Scott Spiegal manages to pull them all together admirably.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Horror Hotel Cinema : Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)



Every self respecting Horror lover appreciates a scarecrow themed Horror film....

So for this weeks show, I have an absolute stunner for you. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW was originally made for TV, and while its roots were humble, its developed something of a cult following over the last few decades, and for many, is the last word in 'scarecrow horror'.

Its a genuinely eerie work. A haunting story that will stay with you, and it boasts perhaps the creepiest damn scarecrow ever put on screen. If you haven't seen this little known masterpiece, your in for a good time, folks. Scarecrows are a sparsity in Horror, sadly. I've never understood why, as for me, theres something fundamentally frightening about those silent figures, deep within the corn-rows, lifeless and poised. They freak me out, man. Ever patient sentinels waiting to strike the unaware.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Review : The Shrine (2010)

Director:

Jon Knautz

Writers:

Jon Knautz (screenplay), Jon Knautz (story), and 3 more credits »

A group of young journalists looking for the 'big break' investigate the disappearances of a number of travellers in rural Poland, but their ambitious ways may lead them to becoming the next victims of a sacrifice practising cult who may be behind the mystery. Ya think.....?

Its two days since I watched this little ditty, and though the weekend beckons, Ive put aside my Budweiser Lites and turned the music down low, in order to review this flawed yet relatively fun movie. I feel its worth it, as theres an enjoyable time to be had here, and its worth sharing.

I hate to lower the standards once again by writing the whole, 'something meets something' bullshit, but I really have to, here, so forgive me for my sins....

THE SHRINE is, essentially, the outcome of splicing THE WICKER MAN with HOSTEL. At least for the first two thirds. After that we head directly down 'EXORCIST alley', for our hokey and enjoyable finale. More on that later. For now, lets step back a bit, and have a look at this bad-boy from start to finish.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Review : Straw Dogs (2011)


Director: 

Writers:

Rod Lurie (screenplay), David Zelag Goodman (earlier screenplay), and 2 more credits »

L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both. 

(Brief History Lesson : In 1971, legendary Director Sam Peckinpah shocked audiences worldwide with STRAW DOGS. At the time, the films violence was pretty extreme, but it was the films unflinching look at male aggression that got the censors dicks in knots. Not to mention a rape scene in which the victim appears to be quite enjoying the whole thing. Long story short, the film was banned for 25 years, and finally found its home on DVD. End of lesson. Now onto the review.....)

Another hangover....another unnecessary remake. That's two for two in so many days.

I cant complain too much though, some of these recent remakes have been ego-crashingly good. FRIGHT NIGHT and MOTHERS DAY are sitting proudly atop that list. And while there will always be cash grab movies that piss all over the intent and artistry of the originals, (NIGHTMARE ON SHIT STREET), there seems to be a greater trend of late towards actually paying respect to the original works. Basically, it seems the less remakes are made by those fuck-nuts at Platinum Dunes, the better our cinematic environment shall be.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Review : The Thing (2011)


Writers:

Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?")
  
Near an isolated Norwegian outpost in Antarctica,  a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when an alien is unearthed by a crew of international scientists.An alien that can mimic any living thing perfectly, including humans....

There are two kinds of people in this world....those who love John Carpenters THE THING, and those who haven't seen it, (never trust these people, folks). Its that sort of film. A film so perfect in each and every detail that it  transcends genres as effectively as it blends them. For me, its the single greatest Sci-fi Horror in the history of cinema, even surpassing Ridley Scott's ALIEN. So it was with great trepidation that I approached this 'prequel'.

I say prequel in quotations, as this film could very easily be viewed as a remake. Not only of Carpenters masterpiece, but of the equally brilliant Howard Hawks original, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It takes Hawks genesis story, and transports it to the desolate landscape created by Carpenter in his version. I'm sure you all know by now that this film follows the fate of the Norwegian camp who originally unearthed our shape-shifting hombre. No one ever really gave two shits about seeing what went down at the camp, as we've all spent years dreaming up the scenario in our own imaginations, and no film could ever come close to rivalling the bloodbath we all dreamt of. Despite being unnecessary, word that the Norwegians tale would be detailed did raise interest in the Horror community. Interest and fear...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review : Panic Button (2011)


Director:

Chris Crow

Stars:

Scarlett Alice Johnson, Jack Gordon and Michael Jibson

Four strangers win a competition on the popular social-networking website All2Gether, and are offered a trip to New York via private jet. When they get on board, however, a new game is presented to them. One that will show them for who the really are, and in which their lack of participation will have serious consequences.... 

"Facebook - Never has there been a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" - Me

I hadn't heard of PANIC BUTTON until the day I watched it, (yesterday as it happens), and had no idea what it was dealing with, other than the fact that it had something to do with social networking, and was British. Now right away, that combination inspires dread in me. You see, Ive seen CHAT ROOM, and it was ninety odd minutes of my life and my sanity that I can never reclaim. That film tried as hard as can be, to be on the pulse of today's widespread self-whoring media obsession, but managed to be about ten years too late. Has anyone even been in a chat room since the early noughties? I didn't even know the things still existed.

Where that film was filled to the brim with upper class wankers, whom you wanted to eviscerate on sight.....PANIC BUTTON is filled to the brim with upper class wankers who you want to eviscerate on sight, too....at least I did.

Horror Hotel Cinema : Madman (1982)


Welcome back to the midnight show, friendo's...

This weeks mini-masterpiece needs to no introduction whatsoever. Why, you ask? Because I reviewed this little gem right here!

Go read that, then come back here, and watch 'Madman Marz' killing visually challenging cast members in style!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review : Madman (1982)



Director:

Joe Giannone

Writers:

Joe Giannone (screenplay), Joe Giannone (story), and 1 more credit »

Legend tells of a deranged madman, who lives deep in the woods surrounding some summer camp or other, and if you say his name above a whisper, he'll come looking for you, brandishing an axe and an attitude problem. Cue dumb teenage kids shouting his name out into the dark woodlands. Bad idea, son....

Believe it or not, this much-ignored little slasher sits proudly among my very favourite of the sub-genre, alongside BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN, THE BURNING, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and COLD PREY 1 & 2. I just cant get enough of this film, from its lumbering, doom-laden opening theme to its horrendous casting. Its just perfection.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Review : Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

 

Director:

Troy Nixey

Writers:

Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), Matthew Robbins (screenplay), and 1 more credit »
A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.

When reviewing  DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, I found myself in a state of internal conflict. Its been my hardest review to articulate by far, so bear with me and by the end it'll all make sense, I hope...

Anything with Guillermo Del Toro's name on it is usually a guaranteed work worth experiencing. Whether he's in the directors chair, (PAN'S LABYRINTH, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE), or working in a producing capacity, (EL ORFANTO, JULIA'S EYES), his unique vision, cinematic aesthetic and storytelling prowess are always upfront. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is no different, at least on the surface.

Taking on the role of both Writer and producer, this time Del Toro is dipping his toes into the shark infested water that is ' THE REMAKE'. Yep, DON'T BE AFRAID is a remake of a TV movie from the 80s that made quite an impression on many who saw it. I caught it for the first time last year and I really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. It had a cool concept that plays on a whole host of childhood fears, yet I found the execution to be severely lacking. In my mind, its a film that was ripe for a remake. After all, instead of remaking all the stone cold classics like HALLOWEEN, why not take a flawed work and push to make it better; make it what it could have been?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Interview : Zena, The Real Queen of Horror


Hello, Friendo's...

One of the most enjoyable things about working in the blog-o-sphere is the sharing of our work with fellow writers, and having the chance to discover their work for yourself. As I set about creating my own slice of online Horror, I would scour the net looking for like-minded Horror-hungry souls, who's work would inspire and inflect my own, Among the very finest of these discoveries was coming across Zena's popular little corner of the Internet, THE REAL QUEEN OF HORROR. 

The first thing I noticed was the lack of conformity. Zena is, (shock!! horror!!) a young, black woman! I know, I know....its unthinkable, but true! In a world where Horror fans are normally viewed within the cliche of morbidly overweight, spotty white 'Death Metal' fans, (thanks for that, Mainstream Media), it's always fun to see the blatantly false stereotype being shot down on sight.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review : 11.11.11 (2011)


Director:

Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer:

Darren Lynn Bousman (screenplay)

 
After the death of his wife and child, an author who has lost his faith in God, travels to Barcelona to visit his estranged brother, (a preacher) and dying father, where he  comes to realize that many important events in his life all seem relate to the number 11. As he investigates, he finds himself trapped in an ever-worsening nightmare that could herald the apocalypse. Demonic entities and Hellish visions begin to plague his every moment, as he comes to learn the terrible truth behind the mystery, and all the time the date 11-11-11 draws slowly nearer....

What the fuck happened?

 

Lets get this straight. I loved MOTHERS DAY. I enjoyed all of Darren Lynn Bousmans previous efforts, but I freaking loved MOTHERS DAY. (Heres the proof!). That film was vicious, unrelenting, intelligent and paced within an inch of its life. It managed to hold court with the French New Wave of Horror, and not embarrass itself, and it was one of the few remakes that not only surpassed the original, but kicked its teeth out and left it bleeding on the racetrack.. Bousman has been growing and growing as a filmmaker. The guy has serious skill's behind a camera and crew....

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Horror Hotel Cinema : Hammer House of Horror - The Silent Scream (1980)


Hello, one and all....

The Horror Hotel Cinema has yet another rare classic for your viewing pleasure, tonight. This one only runs at an hour long, as it is, in fact, part of a TV spin-off venture that the fabled Hammer Studio's partook of, in the last leg of their saga. The series was called, HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR, and was a hugely successful, if short-lived, set of mini-movies, dealing in a variety of Horror's; (demons, occultism and haunted houses, among others), each one with a different cast, writers and director. It was very much the MASTERS OF HORROR of its time.

I'm unsure what impact the show had on the rest of the world, but in the UK it was a big hit, and has taken its rightful place in the public consciousness, spanning two generations. Its a fine show, with some fine acting, not least in THE SILENT SCREAM...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Review : Apollo 18 (2011)

 

Writers:

Brian Miller (screenplay), Cory Goodman
Decades-old found footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon...

This is gonna be a hard film to review, as its been a few days since I viewed it and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, as an entire film. There are so many things about the movie I adored, and some things that threaten to sink it completely, as a whole piece. I'll try and break it down as best I can. First the good stuff....

APOLLO 18 follows the 'found footage' road so regularly travelled these days, that its becoming passe. At the same time, I ENJOY the sub-genre when its done well. REC, REC 2, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THE TUNNEL, all made fine use of its techniques, and are widely regarding as effective genre pieces. In fact, I find BLAIR WITCH to be a damned frightening film. There was a chance that APOLLO 18 could join the club in style. It's got a lot going for it...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Macabre Memories 2 : The Top trumps Horror Card Collection




I Woke this morning with one thing on my mind, and one thing only...to track down those superbly scary Top Trumps that done the rounds in our school playground when I was little more than a boob-munching rug-rat.

I was recently interviewed by THE DEVILS EYES.COM. You can read the interview here if you like, or at least the first question, as the initial I was asked was, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'What got you into Horror?'. The answer came to me straight away, despite being something I haven't thought about for a number of years. More than a number of years, in fact. My answer surprised me, I have to admit. We all have formative moments in our lives when we inadvertently become shaped by outside influences, and oftentimes, we're not conscious of them. As I spoke about those Top Trump cards that so paralysed me as a child, I realised that I HAD to see them again. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, man. And it's not always for the best.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hotel Management Interrogation.....



Hello, Friendos

Lets be honest, we all enjoy talking about ourselves and our experiences, don't we. And as a writer, any opportunity for shameless self-promotion and the chance to share more of our thoughts and feelings is one you just can't pass up. So when Rich Stiles, main author and contributor for THE DEVILS EYES.COM, asked if he could interview me for the website, how could I say no? It was very flattering, to say the least, and some pretty interesting issues came up through the questions. Rich was kind enough to allow me to re-publish the full interview here. 

I'd like to stress that Rich's description of what I do as , 'awesome writing skills', is entirely of his own accord. Yes, I bought him a shiny new Halloween Box Set, and slipped a few bucks his way, but I assure you no bribery took place. Honest!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Review : Territories (2010)

 


Director:

Olivier Abbou

Writers:

Olivier Abbou (screenplay), Thibault Lang Willar (screenplay)

Five friends return home from a marriage in Canada to the United States. Not far from the border, two customs officers stop them to check their identity. When the officers observe that one of the men is of middle-eastern origin, things quickly escalate to the point of no return, and the friends come to learn the full truth about, 'Homeland Security'....

Trust the French to be the only film-makers with big enough cahones to explore the horrifying infringement of rights that happens under the noses of Americans every day.

Right of the bat I'm gonna state that TERRITORIES, is essentially a true story. I wish to god it wasn't, but it is. The characters may be fictional, and the setting of the film may be rather trite in a time when 'lost in the backwoods', flicks are ten a penny. But this films message, and its intent, are entirely based in reality. The anguish onscreen is a very accurate portrayal of what the world knows to be going on in detention camps states-wide. The truly heartbreaking fact is that while there are only the lives of five characters being demolished by the state in this film, the real numbers are off the charts. As you suffer through TERRITORIES, you'll never once be swept off on fancy. Its brutally frank in its depiction of Guantanamo Bay, now closed, (Read : Relocated), and the many other hellish facilities where we lock our 'enemy combatants', without due process, trials or even reason. This is an important film. It's a film that demands you, the viewer, heed its message and take on board your complicity in the events onscreen. TERRITORIES is exactly the sort of movie western audiences need to be subjected to, to help shake off the hypnosis that they've been living under for so long. Viva France, indeed...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Horror Hotel Cinema : Kingdom of the Spiders (1977 )


Well, Halloween may be over and the decorations taken down, but it's ALWAYS Halloween in the Horror Hotel, and I aim to replace those plastic spiders with some real ones...

Tonight's Horror-show is, well, to be honest, a film I haven't properly seen all the way through. Anyone who read my editorial 'The Arachnaphobic Five', will know that I'm rarely able to handle movies featuring my mortal enemies. Those creepy crawly bastards and I have little love for each other, and the last thing my psyche needs is a dose of arachnid Horror.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Editorial : Halloween Tricks 'N' Treats 1 - Essential Cinema


It's that time of year again, when golden leaves dance in the streets on the biting Autumn winds. When shadows loom larger as all manner of ghouls, goblins, witches and ghosts come out to play, and when kids and adults everywhere recognise the customs of old, and celebrate accordingly...It's Halloween!

This is by far my favorite time of year. I love the ambiance, the sense of mystery, the long cold nights, the howling winds whistling through the trees. I love the store front windows filled with seasonal goodies; monster masks, macabre toys, creepy decorations and pumpkins of all sizes just waiting to be carved into fearsome Jack-O-Lanterns. I love the sound of children's laughter as they happily carry on the traditions of their parents. I just love it. Its the time of year when I feel most alive, and most content. You can keep your Santa, your Easter Bunny and your New Year Bells. All I need is a shrill howling wind in the fall, a bunch of Horror-loving friends over for drinks and a seance, and I'm about as happy as a man can be.....almost.....

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Review : Battleground (2011)

 

Director:

Neil Mackay


When a bank heist goes 'south' for Mr Pink, Mr Blonde, Nice Guy Eddie and....oh shit, hold up......

When a bank heist goes south for a random group of career criminals, they find themselves having to hide out overnight in the woodlands surrounding Michigan. What they don't know is that the same woods are home to a war damaged Vietnam-Vet who's watched far too many John Rambo movies. Cue bloodshed, bullet-holes and booby-traps....

You know those annoying, amatuer-ish reviews that spend half their time comparing a film to others in its field, without ever really delving into the film itself? Well, this is one of those. Sorry....

I'm gonna try to keep the comparisons to a minimal, but with a movie that wears its influences on its sleeves so proudly, its gonna be really fucking hard. This in no way means its a bad film. In fact, I rather enjoyed it for what it was. It delivers the, 'slasher/action movie', goods in its own humble way, while paying respectable homage to its admittedly far loftier peers.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Fright Night (2011)

 Director:

Craig Gillespie

Writers:

Marti Noxon (screenplay), Tom Holland (story), and 1 more credit »
In a suburb on the outskirts of Las Vegas, young Charlie Brewster's High School life is finally coming together. He has a stunning girlfriend, his acne has cleared up, and he's distanced himself from his nerdy friends. Yet kids are going missing from school, and soon Charlie begins to believe that his strange new neighbour may be responsible, and may well be a lot more dangerous than a garden variety serial killer....

I really didn't want to see this film.

I won't rant on about my love for the original, you can read all about my reasons for adoring it in my review here. I will say though, that my loyalty to the original clouded my mind on the idea of a remake. Its the sort of shit that puts hate in a mans heart...

The trailers infuriated me. The casting of Colin Farrell as Jerry Dandridge infuriated me. The damned setting infuriated me. This film had 'cash-grab' written all over it from day one. Over the years we've all suffered through abysmal remakes of many of our most beloved classics, but I actually assumed FRIGHT NIGHT was safe. After all, its name alone wasn't enough to guarantee huge box office. Its not NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2010 or FRIDAY THE 13TH 2009. This was a film beloved by a small pocket of discerning and loyal Horror fans, not a commercially viable franchise. So why remake it? Why not just create a whole new vampire movie and leave my cherished classic the fuck alone? It made no sense then and it makes no sense now. In fact it makes less sense now that I've seen it, as it basically is an entirely new movie.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Horror Hotel Cinema : The Gorgon (1964)


Tonights show is a rare treat, from the Hammer House of Horror, straight to your homes...

It's not a particularly well known work in the pantheon of classics. In fact, its actually one of the studios less revered works and its often overlooked even by fans of its genius director, the late great Terrence Fisher. Poor fools...

My relationship with THE GORGON is a long and strange one, that features psychedelic drugs, late night terrors, bad trips and 'coming of age' nonsense that I like to think is on a par with STAND BY ME, (its not). You can read about all that mess in my review of the movie, right here. So I wont waste your time babbling about my less than illustrious past just before the show starts.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review : Pandorum (2010)

Director:

Christian Alvart

Writers:

Travis Milloy (screenplay), Travis Milloy (story), and 1 more credit »

A pair of crew members aboard a spaceship wake up with no knowledge of their mission or their identities, and as they struggle to piece together the fragments of their minds, they come to learn that the ship is infested with an unknown life-form, and a vicious one at that...

I have a theory regarding film critics. I'm talking 'professional' film critics here. You know, the ones who actually get paid good money to sit through a movie? It seems to me that as soon as one 'established' critic, and I use the term loosely, writes a negative review on a film; the whole lot of em have to follow suite. It's perhaps something to do with saving face, with looking superior, or maybe its simply to do with lacking the confidence to enjoy something on its own terms without fearing the sacrifice of their standing. I don't know. What I do know is that every now and then I come across a film that I've read almost everywhere is seven shades of shite, only to find its, well....fun. Sometimes even great.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Editorial : The Arachnophobic Five


Screaming like a big girl is something I am shamefully familiar with....

Ever since I was a very small kid, Ive had one longstanding, unending and totally uncontrollable fear- the fear of spiders.

Everything about these abominations repulses me to my very core. The cold cluster of eyes, the sharp fangs, the bristling hair. The way they move. The way they feed. I just plain fucking hate them.

Even the word, 'Spider', itself holds all sorts of evil connotations in my mind. It sounds wrong, nefarious, predatory, barbed and brutal to my ears. Yep, these horrible bastards were, are, and most likely always will be the fuel for my nightmares.

I think of myself as a pretty zen guy. I never kill any bugs, I let em go about their weird-ass business as they see fit. Hell, I even help em out when I can, (just the other day I gave a massive slug a ride to the nearest safe foliage). But Spiders? When it comes to these godless horrors, I would kill and kill and kill, till the whole damn species was wiped out. Only problem with my genocidal plans for the little fuckers is that I'm too damn terrified to get within ten feet of them. They had just better hope I don't grow a pair of balls sometime in the future. Hell mend em if I do!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review : The Loved Ones (2009)



Director:

Writer:

Sean Byrne
After the tragic death of his Father in a crash in which he was driving, Brent has become a shell of his former self. Redemption may come in the form of his patient and loving girlfriend, but Brent has bigger issues to contend with...

Prom Night is approaching, and Brent has caught the eye of a quiet, awkward girl in his class. When he respectfully turns down her invitation to the dance, she devises a plan to make sure she has her perfect Prom Night, and Brent's going to be her date, whether he likes it or not...

I admit it. I honestly thought the much maligned 'Torture Porn' sub genre had ten shades of nothing left to show us. I mean, lets be honest, it wasn't really any damn good in the first place. I quite like a number of the films that truly deserve to fall under the umbrella of 'Torture', but at best, they've been guilty pleasures, and at worst, they've been HOSTEL 2. Pointless, banal, cheap and suffering from a severe case of 'No-Balls'. 

There are plenty of films that can arguably be fit into the sub-genre, which have real merit, meaning and worth. AUDITION, I SAW THE DEVIL, and MARTYRS all immediately spring to mind as films that transcend the label while being perhaps inspired by its possibilities. Now, its a stretch calling these films 'Torture Porn', and its actually pretty derogatory. These films feature prolonged bouts of agonising violence, but that's far from all they have to offer. A movie like HOSTEL 2, or the SAW series, (which I enjoy for what they are), are really little more than titillation for the gore lover that resides in most genre fans. Those films ain't art, no matter what your smoking. MARTYRS on the other hand....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Review : Attack the Block (2011)

Director:

Joe Cornish

Writer:

Joe Cornish

Stars:

John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker and Alex Esmail

A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.

Well, this is a hard damn film to review, I have to say. Its left me very torn as to how I feel about it. As a Horror/Thriller with comic overtones, it works very well, and has some very fun, and occasionally tense moments. It has a playful tone that keeps the whole affair bright and breezy and, as I'll explain later, it has some really cool looking creatures to keep us Horror fans happy in our twisted little worlds. Not much to complain about, right? Not so. The film has one major, almost fatal flaw that will turn off a sizable portion of its intended audience. And its a flaw that will only affect some of you fine people....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Horror Hotel Cinema : The Horror Hotel (1960)


Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats...

For tonight's show we have a stone cold classic for you, and the film from which your ever-amiable Hotel manager took the inspiration (read : plagiarised shamelessly) for this very Hotel you sit in now.

THE HORROR HOTEL tells tale of a studios college gal who has a hard-on for witchcraft, and wishes to write an article on the subject. To get a greater feel for the macabre matter, she heads off to the remote village of Whitewood, where its said that a 'Salem-style' witch trial took place back in the 17th century. One which led to the burning of Elizabeth Selwin, an understandably embittered satanist. Before the poor kid even arrives in town, strange and creepy shit starts to ruin her day, and its only about to get a whole lot worse when on reaching her destination, she realises that witchcraft may be more than just fodder for religious nutcases and fairy tales...

Tonight's film is a simply stunning little lost gem. Its drenched in that fog enshrouded, spooky goodness we all cherish from the oldies, and, unlike many of the films for its period, this one actually remains genuinely chilling. The film takes some structural cues from other movies of the time, (most notably Hitchcock's 'PSYCHO'), and weaves them into a surreal, almost nightmarish narrative in which atmosphere is everything. There are hints of Lovecraft, a touch of Hammer, (the mighty Christopher Lee plays the college professor who sends our intrepid college hottie on her way to Whitewood, AND SHE TRUSTS HIM!!!), and a satanic feel that was finding its cinematic footing at the time of production.

The fabled town of Whitewood is a character unto itself, and is the source of the movies wellspring of dread and impending doom. And its beautifully shot, well acted and perfectly paced. And if I'm not wrong, theres a good chance that Mr Argento found some inspiration for the second film in his 'Three Mothers Trilogy', INFERNO. You just cant go wrong with this one, folks.

So, turn out the lights, crank up the sound and head on over to Whitewood for a taste of good old fashioned Horror. Just don't stay in the Hotel......


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Review : Red State (2011)

 

 

Director:

Kevin Smith

Writer:

Kevin Smith
Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

It feels a little strange reviewing Kevin Smith's latest venture into cinema on The Horror Hotel, as to classify his new work as Horror is something of a stretch. RED STATE is many things, much of them good, but other than its initial premise, (which is soon discarded), its really not a genre film in any real way. It has some  violence, (though nothing too graphic), it has some semblance of torture, and it has a few decidedly creepy moments, but it feels far more like an action/thriller than a Horror. In fact, its a rather hard film to actually classify as falling into those labels either.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Book Review : Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan


Megan Blackwood has lost her son in a terrible accident. Now she has come to Moonlight Creek with her teenage daughter Jenna, hoping that a change of scenery might help to put her life back together.
But something odd is happening in Moonlight Creek. Something that has given water a life of its own so that it can now move, think... and kill.
When Megan realizes that her daughter's life is in danger, it might already be too late.


Its always a pleasure discovering a new author of Horror fiction. It often feels like I'm running low on new books to read. Theres only so many time's I can re-read my Brian Keene or Edward Lee collections, (okay okay, that's not actually true, but you get my point!), so to discover an up and coming writer who really has the chops to go all the way is both inspiring and joyful. Even more so when you discover that said writer has an original voice, and has much to say with it.

News : Daughter of Darkness (My firstborn arrives!)

Hi everyone.

Life has been moving pretty fast recently, and sadly, Ive been neglecting my little corner of the Internet. Trust me though, there is good reason....

As of 2am, 'British Time', on the 27th of September, a future fan of all things Horror entered this world. A perfect little person to whom my whole heart belongs and to whom all my childhood and adult experiences within our genre will be relived and revered anew.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review : The Dead (2010)


Stars:

Elizabeth Akingbade, Benjamin C. Akpa and Stephen Asare Amaning

When the last evacuation flight out of war-torn Africa crashes off the coast, an American Air Force Engineer emerges as the sole survivor in a land where the dead are returning to life and attacking the living.
 
Is there any sub-genre that's had more ups and downs than the Zombie film? Well, yes, there probably is, but lets be honest here, the zombie movie swings from high to low almost as frequently as the works of Dario Argento. Sure, quality tongue-in-cheek zombie films are far from a rarity, but the number of truly exceptional, serious takes on the subject is a very small one. For every bright beacon of hope, (THE WALKING DEAD), we get a whole slew of sub-par bullshit. And with the advent of the so-called 'adaptation' of Max Brook's wonderful WORLD WAR Z looking like its going to drag the undead movie's back into the gutter, its a breath of fresh air, and a real relief, to come across a serious take on zombie's. And that's exactly what we get with THE DEAD.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Horror Hotel Cinema : The Devil Bat (1941)



What do Bela Legosi, cheap perfume and a huge screaming rubber bat all have in common?

They all feature prominently in tonight's show, THE DEVIL BAT. That's what!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review : A Horrible Way To Die (2010)

Director:

Adam Wingard


An escaped murderer is in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, who has fled to start a new life in a small town.

The first thing your gonna notice when you sit back to watch A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is the camerawork. To call it restless would be one hell of an understatement. Excluding anything directed by Peter Greengrass, (who's constant overuse of shaking camera pisses me off and ruins every single film he directs), I'm actually very tolerant of the technique. In fact, I rather enjoy it if its used accordingly. In AHWTD its used constantly and is occasionally so distracting that it defeats its intent and actually removes you from the film rather than immerses you. Even for me, this pushed the boundaries a little. Sometimes it's beautiful, lending a naturalism to the film that otherwise would be missing, and I'll go out on a limb and say that in the grand scheme of things its benificial to the story being told; yet it can pull you out of the film, and it can frustrate you, when all you wanna do is focus on the performances. If your in any way anti-shaky-cam, your going to have a hard time getting through this one. Adam Wingard has took a real risk with his decision to use this technique. It's going to alienate a sizable number of viewers, yet if you can look past it theres a whole hell of a lot to enjoy.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Art of Darkness 2 : Al Cook's Necropolis


For my second dive into all things artistic that take their cues from Horror and the macabre, I felt I'd bring you something close to home, that is as simultaneously delightful and as twisted as the man who creates it.

Writer/Illustrator, Al Cook is a close friend of mine. We hail from the same dark region of the world and we share many of the same unsavory habits, including a taste for whiskey and wine that probably merits psychological study, and has often found us lying side by side in the gutters of our world. We also share a very similar taste in genre cinema, (Al's every bit as obsessed with HAMMER HORROR as I am, among many other oddities), yet Al's upbeat and positive approach to life lends to his artwork a certain whimsy and delicate nature that offsets the darkness beautifully.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review : Creature (2011)

 

Director:

Fred Andrews
 

In the back country of Louisiana, a group of friends unearth a terrible secret that unleashes a monster from the depths of the swamp. 


Louisiana bayou. Rubber monster suit. Lesbianism. Pretty girls getting butt naked. Incest.

If all the above terms and words sound appealing, (perhaps not the final one), then you've came to the right place. CREATURE is a film so unashamedly bad, so ridiculously plotted, paced and edited, that its a miracle it ever made it anywhere near the silver screen, never mind 1,500 cinemas. This film does just about everything it sets out to do with an almost artistic level of ineptitude. Its trash from beginning to end, and anyone who enjoys this sort of nonsense needs their head looked at. I recommend it wholeheartedly. How could I not?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Review : The Orphan Killer (2011)

 

Director:

Matt Farnsworth

Stars:

Diane Foster, David Backus and Matt Farnsworth


Marcus Miller is a serial murderer hellbent on teaching his estranged sister Audrey what it means to have family loyalty. His lessons are taught in massive doses of vulgar and unimaginable pain. Throughout her brutal torture we learn that Marcus is not the only Miller with Killer in the bloodline as Audrey proves to be a formidable adversary.

Old school slashers. We all love em. Who can resist a masked maniac happily going about his business of hacking up some mediocre actors? I know I can't. And while I'm sometimes a little unforgiving if I have a lot invested in the slaughter, (see my COLD PREY 3 review here), I am, for the most part, very open to the many flaws to be found within the sub-genre. In fact, many of the 'flaws' can be beneficial to the work. The young kids trying (too hard usually) to make their mark in the acting world are sometimes far more endearing for their lack of experience. And, as its a sub-genre that truly belongs in the 'low' to 'seriously low' budget bracket, the creators have to work far harder, often producing surprisingly impressive results. And much like LAID TO REST seduced us with its creative kills and cooler than ice lunatic, THE ORPHAN KILLER seeks to win the slasher fan over with great visuals and an yet another instantly memorable nutcase.

Horror Hotel Cinema : The Screaming Skull (1958)


 Tonight's show is a real treat, or a real trick. It's all a matter of perspective. I first caught THE SCREAMING SKULL when I was a very young kid. I caught a late night showing, while my parents slept. It scared the holy hell out of my younger self, as these things do to a kid with a susceptible imagination and no grasp of the line between fantasy and reality. Watching the film all these years later, (and yes, I have it on DVD), its a full on cheeseball fest of the highest order. And of course, that just makes it all the more adorable. I love these films. I always dreamt of drive-in's and 50's Americana as a boy. There's something effortlessly charming about these B-movies of old. In a sense, they capture a part of history that we'll never see come around again. White picket fences, wholesome ladies and solid male counterparts, (not this guy in tonight's film though, he comes off as a total dickhead!)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Review : Bereavement (2010)




Director: 


Writer:

Stevan Mena

The horrific account of 6 year old Martin Bristol, abducted from his backyard swing and forced to witness the brutal crimes of a deranged madman. 


Just take a look at the BEREAVEMENT one-sheet. Is it any wonder I was excited to see this bad boy? Its a startling image, and it caught my attention and fueled my imagination on sight. That was a year ago. I had no idea the film was a prequel to a well respected low-budget slasher by the same writer/director until I decided to give it a whirl. The original, MALEVOLENCE, tells the tale of a serial killer who is impervious to pain. He can't feel it, period. You could cut this guys nuts off while averting his eyes and he'd be none the wiser, (although if you were in his vicinity, you'd probably most likely be dead or dying, and the only nuts getting chopped off would be your own). Its a cool slice of reasoning for why our slashers just keep getting back up, and I wish I'd heard of the film earlier, because frankly, it sounds pretty fine.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Review : Chromeskull - Laid to Rest 2 (2011)



Director:
 
When we last saw Chromeskull, he'd had his face melted and his head caved in via baseball bat. Not a fun situation to find oneself in. Now, with Chromeskull catching up on some much needed rest, his second in command, Preston is sent out to finish the job he started and tie up loose ends. But Preston has ideas of his own about who should be running this show...

The first time I saw LAID TO REST, I was immediately charmed by its antagonist. The Skull faced, camera wielding headcase known as Chromeskull was, and is, a slasher for the ages. Theres a real lack of truly iconic killers in the genre these days, and alongside Babyface from THE HILLS RUN RED, our knife happy pal was one of the few masked killers who's image alone made him eminently watchable. Shame then that his stomping ground was a film so mired in terrible acting and ridiculous plot developments that took the viewer straight out of the experience. It was a strange mash-up of brilliant ideas and half baked execution. Let me rephrase that, the only thing that was not 'half baked' in LAID TO REST was the execution. The kills were beautiful to behold, and stand among the greatest ever put onscreen in a modern slasher. I've seen the film a few times since, usually with a beer in hand and a group of buddies round to enjoy the bloodshed. You ever drank far too much and slept with someone you know is trash, but you just couldn't resist? LAID TO REST is like that. You'll have fun with it when your trashed out of your skull, but you'll wake up feeling guilty come the dawn.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Review : The Devil's Rock (2011)

Director:

Paul Campion

Writers:

Paul Finch (screenplay), Paul Campion (screenplay)
Set in the Channel Islands on the eve of D Day, two Kiwi commandos, sent to destroy German gun emplacements to distract Hitler's forces away from Normandy, discover a Nazi occult plot that may help them win the war once and for all. 


Hands up those of you who don't get giddy at the idea of a Horror movie dealing with Nazi's and the occult. Anyone? Didn't think so. These two concepts are as endlessly fascinating today as they were when Micheal Mann directed THE KEEP, or when good old Indiana Jones was tackling the bastards back in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and THE LAST CRUSADE. There is something inherently attractive about such a dark subject matter, even when its handled lightly, as in the Indiana Jones film's. It's widely known that Hitler had a compulsion towards the occult, and took the whole thing very seriously, adding an element of reality to any film that focuses on the subject. Sure its all fanciful stuff, but the viewer often find themselves asking that most eternal of all Horror fans internal questioning. What if?

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Horror Hotel Cinema : The Woman in Black (Original Broadcast 1989)



Welcome back to the Horror Hotel Cinema, folks!

I had a really sweet B-movie from the 50's picked out for this week's show, but after writing an article here on the upcoming WOMAN IN BLACK adaptation by Hammer Studios, I thought the time was right to take a look back at the original TV Movie which aired one chilly Christmas eve here in Britain, and scared the whole damn country half to death. For those of you who have seen the film, join us and relive one of the most genuinely chilling ghost stories ever told. For those of you who haven't seen the first film, or read the book; sit back, turn all the lights off and let yourself believe. Your in for a real treat.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review : Fright Night 2 (1988)

Director:

Writers:

Tom Holland (characters), Tim Metcalfe, and 2 more credits »
Charlie Brewster and Peter Vincent from the original Fright Night must face more vampires out for revenge. 

FRIGHT NIGHT is my favourite vampire movie of all time. It often feels like my favourite film of all time, period. I see it at least four or five times a year and it never fails to enthrall me with its potent mix of King-esque suburban horror and Gothic, romantic sensibilities. I see the film as a love letter to the Hammer Horror movies I grew up with, and a perfect encapsulation of all that the vampire mythos has to offer. I semi-reviewed it here, for those of you who want my perspective on why its so damn delightful.

Now, its sequel is another matter. I hadn't seen this film since its original release back in the day, and with the new film on the way I figured it'd be a good time to have a look at it with fresh, (or, more accurately, less fresh) eyes. It never shook my world on its release, so could it charm me in the same way the first film did as an adult?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Horror Hotel meets World War Z : On the set of the new adaptation.


Just thought I'd share some cool-ass pictures I managed to take in my home city of Glasgow, during the WORLD WAR Z shoot this past week. In case your unaware, Glasgow was being used as a stand-in for Philly, and certain parts of the city were secured for chase scenes and random zombie craziness. I tried my best to get some close up pictures for you guys, and even infiltrated a derelict building to secure better pictures, (alas, I got busted and dragged out, but the workers were kind enough to pose for a picture when I told 'em I'd make em famous). What you see below is Glasgow's famous Georges Square, and the surrounding streets, being furnished as Philly, complete with SWAT vans, American cabs, Philly cop cars and some cool street signs. It was a lot of fun seeing my beloved home being 'Americanized'.

Monday, 22 August 2011

And the Horror Blog Award goes to.....



Hi troops.
Yesterday I hopped into the Hotel only to find that my good compadre, Dr Blood, had selected me for a Horror Blog Award. For which I am very grateful, may I add. Clearly my technique of mispelling, misqouting, and cursing like a pirate have paid off, as I always knew they would!

As this 'passing on of the baton' appears to be a time honored tradition within our awesome little community. I'd like to take the time now to pass it on to some others who richly deserve some praise, and who make my mornings and evening far more interesting with their thoughts, idea and insights into our genre. Now I'll adhere to the rules of this custom as they were passed to me by the good Doctor. So lets have at it.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Review : Cowboys and Zombies (2011)


Director:

Rene Perez

Writer:

Rene Perez
A meteor lands in Jamestown California in 1849 during the gold rush. It is found by miners who release it's spoors which turn the population into blood thirsty mutants.
 
Before I go into this review, you should know up front that this is a VERY low budget film, and as Ive mentioned before, these films are an acquired taste. I always give them the benefit of the doubt and while I'm often left a little put off by the results, I occasionally come across some real gems, as my review of THE TUNNEL shows. That was a found footage film though, and they are arguably easier to make than a straight movie, if only because they not only utilise the same cheap technology, but they require it to suggest authenticity. In a straightforward production like COWBOYS AND ZOMBIES, the budget is often far more noticeable and can be a distraction to many. Luckily, I enjoy a good B-movie, and have a ton of respect for those who produce them, its not like I've ever got off my arse and made one!

COWBOYS AND ZOMBIES, or to give it its original title, THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED, is just about as low budget as our genre gets, and that's fine. You make allowances for films of this calibre. The actors ain't gonna be top of the range, the effects will most likely suffer under the financial strain, and the sets are liable to be non existent. If you can roll with that, you may find a few things to enjoy in here. Its got a hell of a lot wrong with it, which I'll detail soon, but it does a few things right too, that bode well for future productions.

News : The Woman in Black draws ever closer...


Now this is VERY exciting. The remake, or more accurately the new adaptation of THE WOMAN IN BLACK is fast approaching, is is produced by none other than the mighty Hammer Horror Studios. Anyone who reads this site regularly will know of my deep love and devotion to Hammer's glorious cinematic lineage, and their recent output has been pretty solid. But this is something altogether different.

For anyone unaware of the source material, THE WOMAN IN BLACK was written in 1983 by Susan Hill, and was heralded as an instant classic in the supernatural genre. Putting atmosphere and an all pervading sense of dread above gore and violence, the book recalled the works of classic authors of ghostly tales, such as MR James, and went on to spawn a brilliantly creepy British TV movie and a stage adaptation which plays worldwide till this day, and is downright terrifying.

The original movie was a horrifying experience, and has lost none of its power to scare over the years, but is a little known classic, and a very hard film to get your hands on. No plot details for you here, as surprise is fundamental to the tale, but I can guarantee it will chill any fan of traditional ghost stories. There are scenes in there that can take your breathe away. Its a fantastic film.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review : Final Destination 5 (2011)

Director:

Steven Quale

Writers:

Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)
Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
 
Calling FINAL DESTINATION 5 the best of the sequels isn't really saying too much, or in any way an indication of quality. After all, its the fifth part in what has been until now, a series travelling in ever decreasing circles. The first was great, the second was campy fun, the third was Mouse Trap with gore, (although often funny) and the fourth, well, I cant even remember the fourth, other than remembering I hated it. Its not a great track record, and like most Horror franchises, your most likely going to expect yet another drop in quality. Its great news for Horror fans then, that the fifth film does a whole lot right, and goes quite some way to putting the franchise back on track. Its easily the best since the first, yes, but its also just a damn fun film in its own right.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Review : Super 8 (2011)

 Director:

J.J. Abrams

Writer:

J.J. Abrams

In the summer of 1979 a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a huge train crash whilst making a zombie film on Super 8. As strange events and disappearances start occurring in and around town, they begin to investigate the phenomena, and quickly come to suspect that the train crash and its mysterious cargo are key to whatever is happening to their home.

I caught SUPER 8 a few days back, yet decided to hold out on my review for a very specific reason. I believe that an emotional reaction to a film is every bit as relevant as an intellectual response, and reviews coming from either place are equally valid, and both have their merits. I try to balance the two, but its often hard to gain perspective on things when your emotions are in full control. I remember viewing BRAVEHEART for the first time and being an absolute wreck by the films end. Its themes and messages hit me hard, and being a Scotsman, it was close to the bone; yet in retrospect its a pretty silly movie. With some seriously dopey plot strands and ridiculous dialogue. Had I reviewed back then, I'd have been slightly embarrassed looking back on my immediate thoughts. I felt the same risk was inherent in reviewing SUPER 8.