Sunday 25 November 2012

Review : The Walking Dead Season 3 - Episode 6 - Hounded

(BEWARE, HERE BE SPOILERS....There will only be spoilers regarding the episode. This review is based solely on the show. Hope you enjoy - Kyle )

After five blistering episodes on the trot that dealt with internal and external rot, both of characters and of civil and moral direction, we finally arrive at the crossroads. This episode is may admirably juggle a whole slew of plotlines,(never dropping the ball once), but at the end of the day, its all about the beginnings of convergence.

So far, this season has been pretty damn merciless in putting its characters through an emotional and ethical wringer, and just when we figured we had the chance to come up for some clean air, unpolluted by the dead and the dying, we're thrust right into the story proper.

the characters are all established, the cards are mostly on the table, and the chessboard is set up for some wonderfully contrast and comparison between our two groups. One one side, we have our long-time companions, Rik and gang, and on the other, of course, we have the ever-festering core of the Woodbury apple. Its been a long time coming, not that we noticed, but an unstoppable force is about to encounter and immovable object, and its gonna be great.

We're not there yet, though.

No, this week is all about setup, and what a setup it is. Any questions regarding the ease of Michonne's departure from Phillips all-American deathtrap is settled immediately, with a tense, satisfyingly violent and even funny sequence which shows that our Katana wielding bad-girl is every bit as at home slicing and dicing the more mobile scum and villainy that pepper the apocalypse as she is the shuffling dead. Her wordless punchline to Merle's cynical comment to his nervous group is a perfect crowd-pleaser moment, and once again, the building if this character takes place not with words, but with actions. Michonne remains something of a mystery, but through her manoeuvres, her smarts and her well-honed killing skills, we're slowly coming to understand who this gal is. By the end of the episode, we've learnt she's not above asking for help, even if she will never say it out loud. Like all of our survivors, from Phillip to Rik, and from Daryl to Merle, theres a human being deep down under the hardened shell, scared to show itself for fear of the pack.

Well, maybe not Merle...

The big guy has been far more reserved this season than in the first, and it's a wise move to go this route. Sure, the racist sonofabitch was on crack or some shit when we met him, and wasn't exactly in a contemplative mood, but to keep the character at that level would have hurt the story being told. For one thing, Phillip would have put the fucker down on sight.

His cruelty and devious nature is still there in full force, though, as displayed by his cold-blooded solution to the 'Michonne' problem. Killing that kid may cover your tracks for now, Merle, but you can bet its gonna come back and bite you in the ass big time when your boss learns of your lie. We still haven't really seen what The Gov in truly capable of, but we have seen you do your thing, and if a supreme badass like yourself is scared of this guy, then frankly, so am I.

Speaking of the Gov, his true nature continues to surprise and confound. He's two parts gentle, intelligent leader and one part rage-fuelled, simmering psychosis, and is so well-versed at hiding his more base nature, that its easy to see how one would follow such a person. More and more, Phillip is calling to mind a perfect storm of cultish appeal and political savvy.

Rik's descent continues this week with a dark night of the soul following Lori's death. The scenes by that ringing phone managed to keep us guessing right until the conclusion. What begins as a dark, frightening look at a man breaking down, ends up becoming a tender passage of redemption. If last week we shed tears of despair in the wake of the most recent losses, this week, mercifully, we shed some tears of happiness. Seeing Rik with his kid is a beautiful moment. we know its going to be short-lived, but in a tale this bleak, these little glimmers of light sure do satisfy.

I mentioned way back at the beginning of this review, that HOUNDED is dealing with convergence, and its in the final scenes that we begin to reach our inevitable destination as Rik and crew's fate draws ever nearer. The groups are beginning to merge, with Glen and Maggie on one side, and Michonne on the other. Whats to come remains anyone's guess, but we can be sure of one thing....there will be blood.

Now that all the pieces are in place, it looks like we're all set for one hell of a showdown. HOUNDED lays the much necessary groundwork for future episodes, while maintaining the chaos, tension, heart and heartache that we all expect from the show.

Daryl finding Carol, and Rik finding himself may tempt us to hope, but the sight of a desperate Michonne standing among walkers at the prison gate heralds the coming of much worse, much more human danger. Hang in there, Glen and Maggie, I think I see your friends coming, riding many miles.

No score required. THE WALKING DEAD abides....

Sunday 18 November 2012

Review : Hellgate (2011)



John Penney


John Penney


Liz Burnette, Cary Elwes and John Henbest

This is a real shame..

I only learned about HELLGATE two days prior to its VOD release and I know they say you should never judge a book by it's cover;but that's exactly what I did with this one. Not just its cover, mind you, but its title. I'm a sucker for all things hellbound, and the artwork led me to believe that this would be the sort of film that comes along all to rarely, a hell-set horror with some real bite. Once again...I'm let down by my none-to-unrealistic expectations.

I've never understood why it seems so difficult to portray a valid hellscape onscreen. Its been portrayed with amazing vision and detail in many ways by many writers, (perhaps the most visionary being that of Edward Lee in his INFERNAL series(. There have been a few cinematic exceptions, of course...HELLRAISER and its sequel spring immediatly to mind, but for every film that proffers us a glimpse of Satan's crib, there's ten that promise so much but never bring the goods. Look at the otherwise excellent THE NINTH GATE. I waited two hours to catch a peek at the goods and all I got was bright light. How about DRAG ME TO HELL, which teased us with demonic imagery but never let us see the actual 'dragging' per-se, (and no...three seconds of bad CG doesn't count). Even CONSTANTINE, which portrays a very christian hellscape, only spends a few minutes there. Its not fair, man. I want me some hell to chew on.

HELLGATE doesnt even bother trying to depict any kind of hell at all, although on viewing, it becomes clear that there's no real reason to. The title is very misleading, you see, (it was originally titled SHADOWS, which while pretty poor, is far more accurate). Nope, HELLGATE is, for two thirds of its plat-time, a run-of-the-mill ghost story told, sadly, with little-to-no panache, creative zeal or verve. Its not a terrible film by any's just so devoid of any real creative energy.

The plot revolves around some fella (Cary Elwes) who barely survives a terrible car crash in which his kid and his sexy Taiwanese wife are killed to bits. As he undergoes his recovery, (with help from an equally hot Taiwanese nurse...I really need to visit this place), he begins to experience visions...from beyond the grave!!! Stop me if you've heard this before. The premise here is mildly spiced up by adding some ritualistic silliness (by way of a severely slumming William Hurt), that may or may not have a basis in the regions traditional spiritualism, and the final thirty minutes does pick up visually and creatively, but its not enough to elevate this story from the mire. Its just too familiar, guys. Sorry.

I wont lie, Im a very easy scare when its comes to ghosts, apparitions and the paranormal, but HELLGATE couldn't muster one chill from me. For any genre fan, every scare will be old-hat, and every annoying jump-scare will be telegraphed way ahead of time, (seemingly on purpose by use of a grating, droning sound). The characters are very flat, the script is bare bones, and we never care one iota for the fates of these guys and girls. Elwes is a horror staple thanks to the SAW series, but he's not an actor with enough gravitas to pull something meaningful out of so little. I like the guy, and I believed him in SAW, but I'm never convinced by his performance here. Hurt fares better simply by being Hurt, but he too has nothing to work with. He convinces with ease, but there's nothing for the audience to hold onto.

Instead of character dynamics and intellect, we get fast-cut jump scares, some loud bangs, and a great deal of that shaky-head thing that JACOBS LADDER done so well, and that every other film has botched ever since. It just doesn't cut it. I really do believe that all involved tried to make a frightening film, but it never grips.

There are a few positives though...the film looks beautiful, (not least in its lead actress), and features some stunning scenery from the locations in and around Bangkok, and the ritualistic nature of certain scenes as the film moves from Bustling Bangkok to its jungle bound finale is mildly diverting, but that's about it, folks.

Theres really not much more to say about HELLGATE. It's really something of a non-entity. It doesn't insult and it may contain a few scares for the younger teen audience, but its a pretty hard work to slog through if your in any way horror-centric. I hate to say it, and I wish all the goodwill in the world to its creators, but I have to admit that it commits the most cardinal sin in the realm of's boring.

(And if you wanna check out some finer entries in our genre, head over to LOVEFILM, where you can watch movies online, anytime and as often as you wish, just skip this one).
3.5 Shaker-makers out of 10 

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Review : The Walking Dead - Season 3 Episode 5 - Say the Word

Here be SPOILERS. Watch the episode before reading, guys.

Its five for five from THE WALKING DEAD so far, as the shows third season continues to startle, stun, shock and surprise. SAY THE WORD is yet another winner of the highest calibre.

After our opening scene, which ranks amongst the most disturbing and heartbreaking of the entire series, we're immediately thrust into the now dangerously fractured mind of one Rik Grimes; and the man isn't doing so good...

The episode begins almost as soon as last weeks KILLER WITHIN ended, with Rik suffering from shell shock after the death of his wife. Most startling about this opening scene is that Rik's pained vocalising of last week has rapidly been replaced with dead silence. The man says nothing at all this week as he goes about the business of violently externalising his agony. His one word comes at the very end, (and it's couldn't come at a better time), but his actions speak volumes as he sets off into the prison on a vengeful rampage, essentially mowing down all the walkers he sets eyes on. This is Rik as we've never seen him before...completely, frighteningly fucked up. Whether his insanity is temporary remains to be seen, but whats surely a certainty is that the trust that his group has put in him is going to be severely tested in the future, especially for Glen. Rik's morality and civility is crumbling before our very eyes now. Strangely, while all the fans clamoured for this level of darkness in the show, (and in Rik), is damned depressing to watch the leader of the group disintegrate this way.

Rik's been on a very dark path since way back. It could be argued that his descent began when he chose to step up and pull the trigger on Sofia, but I believe it was with the murder of his best friend that the rot truly started to settle in his bones. I have no doubt that he's still a good man inside, but he's fast losing all that he fought to hold murder and death become an everyday occurrence, his sense of right and wrong, and the vast grey areas in between, are tearing him apart. Add to this the loss of someone so dear to him, (and one of his only real anchors to hope, despite his recent coldness toward her), and its becoming clear that the once stoic and trusted leader may be becoming the most dangerous thing in the prison. I hope he can pull himself back from the abyss.

Rik's outwardly feral rampage this week is smartly contrasted with the events in Woodbury, as the Gov and his people are preparing for a special night of partying and celebrating their small victories over the encroaching apocalypse. Andrea and Michonne, (who shows some much needed character depth here), are still at loggerheads over just what this community truly represents, and it all comes to a head this week, as Michonne does some amateur investigatory work, and finds herself some zombie-pens, and a pointedly strange journal in the office of the big guy himself. Its all great stuff and once again, David Morrissey is brilliant as The Gov, (especially in the moments when he wrongly suspects Michonne knows of his daughter), but the real meat is this episode is an intellectual one, as the lines are being surprisingly blurred between Rik and the man who will surely become his nemesis.

Both men have many striking similarities...they are both family men, who have both lost too much to bare. They both appear willing to do anything to keep their families, (and their people) alive, including the killing of practically anyone who may, (and the key word is 'may', here), be a threat. Both men are driven by demons that seem too powerful to defeat, and both are born leaders.

The differences are as sublime as the parallels...Rik wears his emotions on his sleeve for all the world to see. The Gov hides it behind a winning smile and a charming demeanour. Rik struggles to continue to do what he believes is the right thing, (even though it most likely caused the death of his wife), whereas The Gov has accepted the moral decay that this new world demands, and is using his rage to conquer at any cost. Both men have a deep desire to look after their people, but they're motivations and methods appear to be eons apart.

The real crux of these characters and their dynamics is that neither man is entirely good, or entirely bad. The Gov may simply just be a little father down the line than Rik. After all, we know whats become of his firstborn...

SAY THE WORD throws up some pretty unexpected questions for the viewer...not least of which being, 'Who would I rather stand with? Rik or Phillip?'

Its a question I never expected to be asking myself, and as yet I'm unsure of the answer. I cant blame The Governor's reaction to his beloved daughter's condition at all. His 'entertainment' this week was initially pretty shocking, but his justification of it rang very true to me. If I had lost my loved ones to the undead, I would want my blood-lust, and my fear, to be satiated. The manner in which The Gov calculates his mastery of the walkers/biters is no more brutal that Rik's axe-swinging carnage. Both are forms of catharsis, both are disgusting, but one of them may actually serve to lift the community from the fear that has paralysed it since the plague began, and that one ain't Rik's.

It's a clear example of a deeply troubled man using his wits and his cunning to overcome the seemingly impossible, and it makes for great leadership. Phillip is clearly a very dangerous individual, and I think we're going to learn just how dangerous very soon. Michonne may have walked free, but for Andrea, it may be too late. There;s much more going on with this charismatic bastard than we're seeing.

If the whole episode is essentially played out as some very exciting and tense food for thought, the final scene is the icing on the cake, and manages to take the show to even more grim depths than before...

As Rik finds a spent casing, and a puddle of his wife's brains, on the floor where she died, he hears moaning and comes across what we quickly realise is a very well-fed zombie. The hair caught in its teeth give away the game....this walker has been feasting on the still warm corpse of his dead wife, and has had quite the bellyful. Rik's actions in these closing moments speak volumes as he not only stares into its dead eyes as he kills it, but he stabs its gut repeatedly. It seems that the Rik who felt sympathy for the first walker he encountered way back in the pilot, is long gone. He's not only seeing these poor creatures as obstacles here...this is deeply personal. Worse still, did anyone else notice the voice that whispers , 'Murder them' just as Rik spots the walker? You may have missed it, but it's there, and if this is Riks inner voice, who is it referring to? The undead, or the people he may hold responsible for his wifes demise. Its very telling that he stabs the zombie is the stomach repeatedly, and the stomach very much resembles a pregnancy. Does he blame the child for Lori's death?

Other scenes in SAY THE WORD point at brief glimmers of light, as we see Darryl step up in Rik's absence. He looks every inch the leader the group needs at this point, and his scenes with the newborn baby are very touching, as is his journey with Maggie through the primary school, where a certain childish decoration opens some old wounds. We still have no word on Carol's whereabouts, though the group believe her dead, and its anyone guess where this thing is going to go next week, but for now, THE WALKING DEAD remains king of the hill.
SAY THE WORD may be a less frenetic episode than last weeks heart-stopper, but its every bit as riveting. Makeup legend Nicoterro directs with real flair, and the script is drum-tight. We continue to go from strength to strength in this none-more-bleak epic.  Fight the dead, Fear the living. Indeed....

Oh, and now we finally know what gets Michonne's rocks off. Good play.

You know the score...don't make me write it.

Review : Paranorman (2012)



Chris Butler, Sam Fell


Chris Butler


Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Now, I don't pretend to know a great deal about the intricacies of stop-motion, but I sure as hell know what I like, and I'll take stop-motion over CG any day of the week.

Nothing against CG artists...they do an incredible job, but for this old rodeo rider, there's very few things in the world of cinema that can captivate and charm like a solid, traditional animated tale. I grew up with Ray Harryhausen's cavalcade of creatures, and I still return to those magical films regularly...they never fail to resurrect the monster-mad kid that lives in my time-weathered soul. Its even more impressive to view a full film created in stop motion, and few horror fans will proclaim anything but love for A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and MAD MONSTER PARTY, and its into this very small, but very much loved family that PARANORMAN belongs.

The most obvious and striking thing here is, of course, the visuals. The world in which the tale takes place is simply beautiful to behold.Its pretty hard to grasp the imagination its creators must possess to give such vivid life to these characters and their environments. Normals town is simply brimming with vibrant, ghoulish life. His world is one that's both delightful on the eye, yet strangely warped. Like all good family horror, PARANORMAN implements all the staples of the genre that we often subconsciously love; from ghouls and ghosts, to Ghost-House-luminescent green lighting, fog and gnarled forestry. Its a world peppered with genre in-jokes and a shamelessly geeky understanding of genre cinema. All is shot with an autumnal palette that really gives the film that 'Halloween' flavor.

In short...its a horror fans wet dream, and is sure to elicit gasps of joy from audiences of all ages as we travel deeper into this truly authentic and engrossing world. This ole' geek has no words to describe the admiration I feel for the artists, which makes it all the more saddening that there are so few of these old school movies released these days. If nothing else grabs you in this film, the stop-motion universe sure will suck you into its majesty, and you'll willingly succumb. In recent memory, only TRICK 'R' TREAT has so perfectly encapsulated what makes horror so beloved.

Now, onto the story..

PARANORMAN comes across like a twisted, Gothic fairy tale that melds retro cinema magic with a more cynical, modern bite. In the character of Norman, many horror fans will find real kinship. His bedroom is garbed with all manner of horror memorabilia, and he's something of an outcast in his school life and at home due to his love for all things macabre...who does that remind you of? He even has the HALLOWEEN them as his ringtone.

Okay, so most of us don't communicate with ghosts on a daily basis, but we can all relate to a slightly quirky kid who's tastes flow more easily to the dark side of life. Hes a great lead character, and a surprisingly deep and layered one for an animated family film. There's real warmth and humanity put into these once inanimate models. Take one look at the actors involved, (see above), and as you would imagine, the voice cast are stellar, with the mighty John Goodman stealing the show even in limited capacity as Norman's estranged, and strange, uncle, (who shares Normans gift of communing with the deceased).

And its funny too, in a quirky, slightly queasy way. The jokes are often tinged with black humor, but often hit the mark as Normans world becomes ever more strange. For example, one early scene features the ghost of a family pet that has been sliced in half...the front half trots around behind the back half to sniff its own ass. Some would say its dark, or even distasteful, but I can see kids being delighted by this stuff. Kids are far less fragile than we think, and the many horror/adult elements that the film boasts should be plain sailing for most children. Haunted woods, spooky green witches and the living dead are all, stuff. The more adult themes, (which are central to the story) of familial acceptance, persecution, grief and injustice are deftly handled and with a real warmth. Our young ones can take it, at least when portrayed in such a gentle manner as they are here.

Don't get me wrong, the film does contain some freakishly tense moments, (for kids, I mean); I'm just saying that that is no bad thing. We all grew up with this sort of stuff. It shaped who we are. We'd be some unbelievable bastards if we didn't allow our little ones the same pleasures. When I think of horror in my head, I don't think of MARTYRS, or I SAW THE DEVIL. As great as those more adult works of horror are, I think of the glorious Technicolor terrors of the classic Hammer Films, or the fog-enshrouded forests of THE WOLFMAN. Childhood is the place where our love of the macabre takes root, and PARANORMAN fits perfectly into that mold. The constantly eerie visuals...the dark humor...the genuine love for horror past and present...the heartfelt message behind the tale...all these things conspire to make this a dead-cert future Halloween classic.

My daughter has only been on this planet for just over a year, and when watching PARANORMAN, only two things kept crossing my mind...1/ This is fucking awesome, and 2/ I can't wait to watch this with my baby girl. You cant really ask for more than that.

The story isn't exactly original, but that's besides the point here. this isn't about originality for all of us. For the kids, sure, but for the adults its all about familiarity and wistful memory. the balance is near perfect. There's also a timely and thoughtful message behind the tale which is easy to grasp for children without being in any way inauthentic. What we got here is a lovely blend of genre excess and emotional subtlety that holds up with the very best family films out there.

PARANORMAN will appeal to all ages. Its charm and wit will win over non-horror fans, and its ghoulish visual pizzazz will have old school fans salivating. Kids will adore and relate to the central character and his offbeat friends,(Mintz-Plasse is particularly hilarious), and the cinephiles will have a confidently crafted, stylishly directed and beautifully scored slice of offbeat cinema to chew on.

If, like myself, you a cineaste, an old school horror fan and a kid, (inside your heart),...well, you just found yourself a new Halloween tradition that just begs to be passed down to the younger generation. PARANORMAN is a fun, bittersweet tale that will captivate and touch audiences of all ages.

9 Witch-Hunters out of 10

Horror Hotel Cinema : 100 Scariest Moments (2003)

Hi folks...Hotel Management here with a long overdue return to the Horror Hotel Cinema...

Tonight, we're going for something a little different. In place of the usual B-Movies, J-Horror and Cult Classics; tonights show will consist of what, if I remember correctly, was a two-part TV show that aired around nine years ago in the UK.

At that time, a vote was taken to try and discover what Britain considered the scariest moments in television and cinema history. The results were often surprising, hugely nostalgic, and served to remind many viewers, (myself included), of some of the moments that chilled our souls as kids in the 80's and beyond. For many, I'm sure it was an educational experience also. I personally have the entire QUATERMASS series sat proudly atop my DVD collection, and I'm not sure it would be there were I to have missed this thing. It ranks among my fave box-sets, and I had never even heard about this legendary, (and still terrifying), BBC serial until I slapped my eyeballs on what you'll find below.

So, settle back for a long, fun-filled trip down memory lane with a look at the 100 SCARIEST MOMENTS, as voted for by the UK. Your in for a real treat, and you'll be meeting a whole host of familiar fiends, including Myers, Kruger, Mrs Voorhees, Sadako, Pinhead and many more. Not to mention it'll make for brilliant debate fodder among you and your more geekish buddies.

Your welcome!

Monday 12 November 2012

Review : The Walking Dead - Season 3 Episode 4 - Killer Within

Spoilers - Watch the episode before reading on!

We're four episodes into the stellar third season of AMC's THE WALKING DEAD, and the show continues to go from strength to strength with what must surely be the most emotionally impactful episode so far.

Tonight's chapter showed off the shows new-found enormous set of balls in all their glory, by pulling the rug from under us with not one but two completely unexpected deaths. One of which will have real repercussions for the character's foreseeable futures. Not only was tonight's finale a heart-breaker; it was just about as dark and nihilistic as anything I can ever remember witnessing on television.

Lori's devastating farewell to Carl was, no matter where you stand on her character, a true tearjerker. Brutal and tender in equal measure. The woman may have done more wrong than right since the dead began to walk, but damn if I wasn't starting to sympathise with her. It was very sad to her go for a number of reasons. Not least in that her last interaction with her soul mate was a longing look through a jailhouse fence from a distance. No words were spoken, no one got to make amends. Love was not rekindled. The small moment between the two hinted at a possible reunion of the family that will now never be. Rik will never have a chance to make amends, the new born baby has been robbed of a mother, (and maybe a father), and lets not forget Carl...

Its been said before by many involved, that TWD is Carl's story, and with the events of KILLER WITHIN, its very much starting to feel that way. Like Lori, Carl is morphing from vastly annoying to genuinely likable, and as a father, its damn hard not to shed a tear thinking of a child having to kill his own mother. Living in the world he's in; if this kid doesn't grow up to be a psychopath, I'll eat my own sheriff's hat. No kid should have to bear this sort of weight. The use of a flashback during this scene really seals the deal....this boys innocence is gone forever. There wont be any more playing in the sun, or exploring for the sheer joy of it. Nope, it's all business now. He's no longer a kid, (or rather, he's no longer allowed to be a kid). In fact, he's making choices I'm not sure his father could make. The young actor who's playing Carl pulls off the performance too, (no easy feat), and coupled with Lori's final words to the son she loves, and has failed, the scene is a kick in the gut. That said, what then came only got worse.

Rik's reaction to Lori's death, and his realisation that his first born son had put her down, was tender, human and very authentic. Normally in my home country of Scotland, men only ever cry over spilt beer, but if Lori's death didn't completely reduce grown men to bubbling wrecks, this scene was sure to finish the job. Its hard to see where Rik can go from here, other than deeper and deeper into madness. At the moment, I don't see a way for the big guy to fight through this and maintain his spirit. And what in God's name is gonna happen to that poor baby!?

We also lost T-Dog tonight, and while his death was felt far less than Lori's, it still smarted. The big guy was beginning to come into his own this season. I would have liked to get to know him better, (and perhaps that's the effect Mazzara and crew were going for - make the man's death matter more, through the knowledge of what could have been).

While the prison is fraught with terror and chaos in tonight's episode, the scenes in Woodbury play out in sharp contrast, as we get to know the Governor a little better, and spend more time within his seemingly idyllic community. As with previous scenes in this dead-free wonderland, there is a constant undercurrent of darkness and deceit. Its to the creators credit that the town setting actually manages to feel less safe than the prison. TWD is benefiting greatly from these expansions to its mythos. Nowhere feels safe. Even as Andrea and The Gov practically eye-fuck each over over drinks, the sense of dread and ever-deteriorating morality is always present.  If up until tonight this season has been growing steadily more dark'; the lights have now officially gone all the way out.

Even as Woodbury's citizens wander vacantly through their post-apocalyptic paradise, the truth is slowly beginning to the surface, via the ever-resilient fan fave, Michonne. Her character hasn't had a great deal of time to develop up till this point, (I'm sure we'll see that in the near-future), but as far as Woodbury is concerned, she's our eyes and ears. If Andrea is our hope for a better future, Michonne is our cynical paranoid side....the side that usually keeps us safe. This surface-simple burb is teeming with questions, and Michonne is the only one who's asking them. If I were her, I'd be a little less open in expressing my doubts.....if we've learnt anything, its that the Gov is not a man with whom to fuck, (although try telling that to Andrea).

And as for questions...they just keep mounting. Something that's playing on my mind is just who exactly led the dead into the prison yard. We're to believe it was Andrew, but if he was acting alone, then who the hell was watching Carol in the previous episode? And where is Carol anyway?

KILLER WITHIN, as with the rest of this season so far, finds a spot-on balance between intrigue, mystery, building dread and outright horror. This is as bleak as the show has ever been, (even topping Sofia's death), and its just as it should be. I'm gonna have to stop rating this season episode by episode, as its gonna become rather predictable. Yep...its full marks again for the best damn show on television, and the finest zombie epic of all time, bar none. I just hope Rik can hold onto himself in the coming days and weeks, but on THE WALKING DEAD, no one seems safe.

10 Bullet-holes out of 10

Saturday 3 November 2012

Review : The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 3 - Walk With Me

After two enthralling weeks spent inside the progressively desperate minds of Officer Rik Grimes and his motley crew of survivors; THE WALKING DEAD takes a bold, first-time venture,( and a risky one at that) By casting its gaze far from the wonderfully bleak prison setting and our long-suffering gang for an entire episode, and focusing on opening up the world in which the tale is set; the risk pays off in dividends. This is one of the very best episodes since the shows debut.

While its initially strange to realise that the only anchors to familiarity in 'Walk With Me', will be Andrea, and to some degree her new best buddy, and fan-favorite, Michonne; we soon settle into this fresh, unfolding story, and it's every bit as engaging as the prison.

We pick up where we left of in the season premier with Michonne and Andrea struggling day to day to keep breathing. Andrae is dangerously ill, and no place feels safe. When they spot a downed helicopter and investigate, they find they are not teh only souls out there in the rot and ruin who are curious about the crash. Two cars pull up, and out step a group of well armed, healthy looking and potentially deadly men. Its a thrilling opening.

Not least because, finally, we meet the man himself....The Governor.

Its been a long time coming. Fans have been salivating for this most infamous of villains for quite some time now, and he doesn't disappoint. Needless to say, he's portrayed with perfect poise and predatory menace by David Morrisey. What we have here is perhaps the shows most complex and layered character so far. This is no black and white bad guy. He's all shades of grey...equal parts charming and dedicated politico and cold-hearted psychopathic bastard. A very hard man to read.

In fact, for most of the episode, those unaware of just who this guy is, will most likely find him perfectly likable, even admirable. Some of you may still feel the same way come the episodes chilling and surprising finale. Getting a bead on this guy is like catching mist in the palm of your hand. Where the character will go is unknown, but its a tantalizing prospect having this particular leader bump heads with Rik

After all, we soon learn that somehow, this particular community leader has managed to reclaim a small slice of cicilisation. He has created a well-gaurded community with no less than seventy three members, including women, children and even family pets. He has electricty up and running. Fresh water. A medical team. A well-trained and well armed team of guards, (including a familiar face to long-time viewers), and a safe and idyllic way of life awaiting those he chooses to bring into the fold.

Alternativly, Rik has a filthy prison block, very little food, ten or so survivors, no direction, a rapidly deteriorating sense of civility and for a medical outfit, he has a one-legged, half-dead veterinarian and a grieving mother who performs caesarian sections on zombies. Its easy to choose which team you may wanna play for, given the opportunity....

Though things are not what they seem in the picture perfect town on Woodbury. Safety and comfort come at a cost, as we come to realize in a shocking and powerful scene that, in effect, re-introduces this mysterious 'Governor' in a more true form. This is a man who's willing to do anything to protect his people, or is that to protect his power?

Thats the beauty of such a character...we have no idea, (unless we're readers of the comics, of course. And that aint no gaurentee, either), of where this guy is going. So far, he's a moral conundrum. Dedicated and driven, but by what? Hints at a past tragedy suggest this may be a damaged soul looking to do some good in this brave new world, but we all now how power corrupts, and in a town where the hierarchy goes unquestioned; tyranny can easily find a dark place to nestle.

The episode ends on some chilling imagery that poses more questions than it answers about this enigmatic, imposing man, and it leaves us breathless to know more.

Throw into the mix a creepy scientist, a susceptible Andrea, and the first real scenes of character development for the fierce Michonne, and you have a stone cold winner that points to a very bright and emotionally and intellectually engaging future for the show.

There is very little zombie action in 'Walk With Me', and its a good thing. The first two episodes were action heavy, and while its a blast, we want to know these people. This one is all character and story. If the pace is slowed down, the sense of dread and trepidation is sped up, and our understanding of whats at stake living in this nightmare world, is deepened.

THE WALKING DEAD season three continues its stellar run and has found the seemingly perfect balance of action and suspense, and is only growing more thrilling, and dark, with each progressive episode. The show has hit its stride and then some. With the world opening up to endless possibilities for moral and physical conflict, and with Rik's first truly formidable opponent looming large over proceedings, the show can only go from strength to strength.

Fight the dead by all means, but for Gods sake, fear the living...

All hail The Governor.

10 Aquariums out of 10

Review : The Bay (2012)


Barry Levinson


Kristen Connolly, Jane McNeill and Christopher Denham
Those among you looking for an antidote to the tired and tiresome onslaught of inept. ambition-free found footage horror totally squanders the sub-genres inherent ability to disquiet; need look no further. THE BAY is by far the most disturbing, unpleasant, gripping and downright horrific found footage film in many a moon, perhaps ever.

Playing out as a documentary, created and compiled from a huge number of video sources, THE BAY takes the faux-documentary sub-genre and combines it with large scale outbreak movies such as last years brilliant CONTAGION, to create an almost unbearably convincing slice of ecological horror. This is the sort of film that will turn many off. Its repulsive in its unflinching depiction of a viral outbreak spreading throughout an idyllic community, and is relentless in its desire to terrorise the viewer. Yet this is what true horror is aiming for. Its all too realistic, and it may destroy your appetite for the foreseeable future, but its an endurance test worth taking, to witness just how effective found footage horror can be when done right.

THE BAY opens, somewhat disconcertingly, with real-life media footage from a few years back. Some of you may remember a couple of years ago, there was an unexplainable phenomena occurred in the US, as thousands of birds simply dropped from the skies dead. The government handed out some ludicrous explanations, and the public, or at least those who were less well-informed, bought the bullshit. To this day, there has never been a solid, or believable explanation for the avian deaths, at least not from the 'authorities'.

Review : Paranormal Lack of Activity 4 (2012)

Authors Note : First of all, lemme just say HAPPY HALLOWEEN to everyone!

Sorry it's so belated, but my Internet was down for an extended period of time, and unfortunately, it happened just as our fave time of year came calling. So be it, gotta take the rough with the smooth, man. I did manage to watch a ridiculous amount of Horror during the season, as is my duty and my passion, and have a tidy little backlog of films to set about reviewing, (including, of course, THE WALKING DEAD S3E3). Bear with me folks. Now, onto the first of this months reviews....

Oh, and this review/rant will feature some spoilers, as its impossible to detail the films myriad flaws without exploring some of the plots more ridiculous twists. I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum, guys, although there's really nothing to spoil.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4, should you not already be aware of this, is a full-tilt  disaster. I'll just throw that out there right off the bat for anyone who may be about to make the dire mistake of paying to see this nonsense. I'll give my reasons why its such a mess in due time, but in the slim chance your glancing at this review just as your putting on your jacket and heading for the door; mark my NOT pay to see this thing.

Buy something nice for your better half. Buy some Scotch and drink yourself good-looking. Hell, give your money to that homeless fella with the winning smile outside your local cornershop. I guarantee you'll feel better about yourself for doing it, and he deserves it a fuck-sight more than the makers of this franchise killer, even if he is sniffing bath-salts.

Speaking of the franchise; I'm a fan, by the way...