Tuesday 24 January 2012

Review : Abominable (2006)


Ryan Schifrin

Who doesn't like a good Bigfoot movie?

Problem is, there really aren't to many to choose from. I can think of only one that has any merit whatsoever, and that's THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. That film scared the dick out of me when I was a kid. I still recall the mournful sound the beast made, juxtaposed with the stunning shots of sunsets. Great stuff.

Of course, watching it as an adult, its pretty hard to get past the endless, completely zany singing, and the porn-level performances of the cast. So, I'm loath to even call that film a good Bigfoot movie.

Well, last night, in a frenzy of boredom, I decided to revisit a more recent stab at the Bigfoot myth, and I enjoyed it enough to feel it deserved a little review. Many of you will have missed it on its release, as its a low-budget affair, and may well be a Scy-Fy Original. That's a dreaded term, right there, but hang tight. ABOMINABLE is a ton of fun, and a surprisingly well made creature feature.

Monday 23 January 2012

Review : Rage (2010)

A thirty something man who lives in a suburb just outside of Portland says goodbye to his beautiful and loving wife and heads into town. There he unintentionally provokes the wrath of a mysterious motorcyclist. The confrontation between the two, sets in motion a day long battle. Beginning in the form of harmless taunts then quickly escalating into something more serious and then into something unimaginable.

Just when you thought it was safe to piss off a biker....

Reviewing a truly independent work can be a tricky business. As a fan, you want to help the artist reach as large an audience as possible, yet as a critic, you have the duty, and the trust of your readership, to tell the whole truth, for good or ill.

For me, I tend to view low budget, indie films within the bounds of their limitations. I look for the good in them, and I give credence where its due. If they don't quite hit the mark, I usually point out the fact that these films were made under the most demanding of circumstances, while being more than ready to note that imagination, and skill, can overcome any hurdle. Many of these small, humble films have to be judged on their own terms, and within their own space. Not so, with Christopher Witherspoon's RAGE. This one needs no such support frame.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Review : Don't Go in the Woods (2010)


Vincent D'Onofrio (story), Sam Bisbee (screenplay), and 1 more credit »
A young band heads to the woods in order to focus on writing new songs. Hoping to emerge with new music that will score them their big break, they instead find themselves in the middle of a nightmare beyond comprehension.

When I finally shuffle off this mortal coil and make my inevitable descent into Lucifer's Grill-house, I won't be facing any surprises. I already know whats waiting for me down there....

Religious zealots, (yeah, your going down, too), Musicals and Emo music, on endless repeat, forever.....

Each and any of these curses would be terrible enough, so I can only imagine the sheer unrelenting horror that awaits my sinning soul, as I spend untold endless days drinking weak-ass tea with insufferably bland ass-clowns, only to find that the only source of entertainment I'll get to share with these blowhards is the dreaded 'Musical'. In my mind, there has never been a more nonsensical form of cinema than the musical. I just can't fathom the fucking things. Now, arguably, OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? could be called a musical, but I'm not having it. To me, that's like saying RAY or WALK THE LINE are musicals, they ain't.

A musical, to me, is one of those insufferable films in which you (occasionally) find yourself caught up in the story, only to have the cast burst into fucking song for no sane reason, (often about doing the dishes, growing stronger, a broken heart, the circle of life, or some other silly shit that ruins the flow of the narrative and bores me to goddamn tears); I hate the damn things.

Friday 6 January 2012

Review : Dream House (2011)


Jim Sheridan


David Loucka (screenplay)
Soon after moving into their seemingly idyllic new home, a family learns of a brutal crime committed against former residents of the dwelling.

Any regular visitors to The Horror Hotel will know that I take a pretty hard-line stand against trailers within the Horror genre. I never use them in my articles, and I'm as adamant about advising people to avoid them as I am about avoiding them myself. In some genres its not such a huge deal, but for me, a teaser should be just that, a teaser.

When it comes to our favourite genre, though, the studios seem to deem us all 'Attention Deficit Disorder' suffering fuck-wits, who have zero imagination, and must be spoon-fed our Horror as they see fit. Be it through misleading advertising being used to promote a film as one thing when its entirely another, (DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, anyone?), giving away each and every scene featuring the villain, (A NIGHTMARE ON SHIT STREET), or, in the case of the DREAM HOUSE trailer, giving practically the entire game away before we even see the fucking thing.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Review : The Innkeepers (2011)


Ti West


Ti West

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay. 

I had seriously high expectations going into Ti West's latest spook-show, and who could blame me? The last time this guy had full control of a production, he created one of the decades creepiest, most atmospheric movies, in HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Its practically languid pace may not have appealed to every Horror fan, but for an old school guy like yours truly, it was just what the Mad Doctor ordered. West instantly became a Director who's work I had to see. I fell over myself to catch CABIN FEVER 2, and while I believe he disowned the film, (after much studio-fuckery), you can still feel his capable hands all over it. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and can only imagine what would or could have been, had the studio heads done the seemingly impossible (for some of them), and allowed an artist to create art.

Word had it that with THE INNKEEPERS, West was once again in full control of his raising his baby. And given that the plot involves a couple of would-be paranormal investigators spending a few nights in a haunted hotel. I was all over this thing. The one-sheet, as you can see above, was also a factor in my months long salivation problem. For my money, this was the must-see Horror of the year.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Editorial : 2011's Top Ten

Well, another year is over and we're all a little closer to the cold embrace of the crypt, but it ain't all bad. Despite the whiners, naysayers and proud owners of eternal virginity's.....Horror has had a great year. Sure, the mainstream scene has left a lot to be desired, but since when has the situation been any different? Those of us who done our homework were rewarded with a plethora of brilliant fright flicks, and a few bona-fide timeless classics to boot. This 'top-ten' was actually really hard to compile, such has been the amount of downright impressive Horror on release in the fine year of 2011. I haven't put these in any particular order, as its too damn difficult. All these films stand proudly as their own entity, and shouldn't be compared. I have my own personal best, if I HAD to choose, but I'll keep that to myself. Anyway, here's the list...I've went by the year of release, but if theres any mistakes in here, be sure to let me know, and I'll sort it out. Oh, and if you've missed any of these little numbers, do yourself a favour and give them a look. Chances are, you wont be disappointed....

Sunday 1 January 2012

Book Review : Pay Phone - Brandon Ford

January 1998.

While a fierce winter falls upon the streets of New York City, a vicious killer is on the hunt for new blood. From his third floor apartment window, he watches, waits, using the pay phone across the street as the key to finding his victims. With his voice and his charms, he lures them to his door...

...and one by one they meet their fate. On a gray morning, he spies someone new. Someone different. Someone who reminds him of someone he knows. Someone very, very special. And he'll stop at nothing to be sure that special someone... is next. What ever you do, don't answer the phone. It just might be for you.

The first time I read the late great Richard Laymon, I was around sixteen years old, and I hated his work, I mean HATED it. I had grown up with Horror literature, but the stuff I had been reading was of the, shall we say, excessively descriptive variety. I believed that a great writer should describe everything in vivid detail for the reader, and that Laymon's minimal approach was amateurish at best. See, I was a kid, with hardly any hair on my balls and no real brain in my head. I knew not what I did.

I soon came to realise that its a sign of a great writer, to be able to place the reader inside the emotional core of the work, be it character or scene, with the use of just a few pinpoint focused lines. I realised that I, the audience, was as much a participant in the transference of the novels power as the writer themselves, and that truly gifted writers had the insight, the self control and the respect for their readership, to temper those Tolkienesque/Kingian forty-page setups, and start cutting into the bone from paragraph one.