Wednesday, 11 December 2019
It had to happen eventually, and with Marvel Zombies 5 it finally has. This series has gone off the rails, but thankfully in a way that I happened to love. Gone is the attempts at horror that previous books in the series have tried, and here there is instead plenty of humour, crazy ideas and dimension shifting.
With a zombie virus now present in the main Marvel universe, Morbius has found a way to maybe find a cure. A planestorm event is occuring over five different realities (planestorm being 'permutations of highly unusual incident manifesting across multiple alterniverses'), and this particular event happens to feature five different zombie outbreaks occurring at the same time over five different realities. It is hoped by sending Machine Man and Howard the Duck to these different places they will be able to collect a sample of each zombie type in order to create a antidote. So this unlikely duo find themselves over the course of five issues in a Wild West world, a world where H.G Wells War of the Worlds actually took place, a medieval world, a cyberpunk one, and a reality identical to our own.
Monday, 9 December 2019
Ghost in the Graveyard is a horror that was the directorial debut of Charlie Comparetto who also wrote this. Initially it seemed like a typical teen horror, though one that was light on anything really happening at all. Around the midway mark it crashes into a different type of movie altogether, and while I lost the threads of the plot it at least become a lot more interesting to see.
As a child Sally (Kelli Berglund - Now Apocalypse TV series) witnessed the death of a young girl, Martha (Shiloh Verrico) while playing in the graveyard in the town of St. Moriah with some friends. After this she moved away, and now as a teen she has returned, living with her father Charlie (Jake Busey - Stranger Things TV series, The Predator), her brother, and a random baby. Returning to the town though she starts to glimpse sightings of the ghost of Martha, and before she knows it she is caught up in a struggle against the forces of darkness that includes secret societies, witches, and demonic possession...
For about half this film I felt like I knew what was going on. It was very slow going, and the script was pretty dull, but it seemed the story revolved around finding out just who Martha was. Then the little side plot elements come centre stage and the story goes bananas in a way that was enjoyable, but also ridiculous with how it all comes to pass. If it had stayed at the sedate pace of the first half this wouldn't be getting any sort of recommendation. After around forty five minutes a character has somehow been beaten to death with a baseball, and the creepy ghost girl has been glimpsed a few times and that is it. The second half includes among its crazy path a stolen ambulance, a shotgun rampage at a graveyard, unstoppable possessed people, and a plan to bring about the end of the world. I found myself enjoying this a lot more when I stopped struggling to understand what was going on and just watched the spectacle of it all, but I think it was a complaint of the writing that the story was so hard to follow.
Saturday, 7 December 2019
As I began to watch director Romane Simon's psychological horror Blood Runs Thick I realised I had seen the trailer for it a few years back. Having recently watched Hybristophilia, that was also directed by Simon, and written by Rhonnie Fordham I was interested to see how this one would turn out. Thematically this is similar in that it deals with the effect of early life abuse, but this one follows more of a drama led path rather than going down a more traditional slasher route.
Emily Killian (The Chosen) stars as Vikki, a troubled young woman whose mental health issues flare back up around the time that her lawyer husband, Marshall (Matthew Ashford - Species) goes missing. Her mum and stepdad decide to move in with her, and they bring with them an old high school friend of Vikki, who is now a psychiatrist. Vikki keeps having recurring nightmares of a masked figure attacking her in her home, as well as hallucinating a mysterious little girl, and so her friend hopes to help her work through her troubles and regain her life.
While there are similar themes and a similar style of filmmaking going on here I found this more intimate story to be a more involving one. The film revolves around Vikki and her struggles with her craziness which was portrayed well. Despite all the confusion of what was going on I thought Killian's portrayal of a woman losing her mind was a good performance, I liked how she reacted to the world around her. With the focus on her it does make other characters fade into the background a bit, her parents for instance were in the film for such a small amount of time that it felt like they were almost surplus to what was going on. The psychiatrist was a good character though, and I liked how he never comes across as that good at his profession, which is reflected in what happens throughout the movie.
Thursday, 5 December 2019
I recently had the pleasure of being the judge for the 'Best Stories' category in this years 15 Second Horror Film Challenge. One of the 15 films I chose for my unranked selection was Armando Jimenz's topical Solar Deity, and now I have received another short film of his for review, (R)eliving the (E)xecution of (M)yself.
A man (Ivan Orozco) awakens from a nightmare to hear a knocking at his apartment door, opening it he finds two people there who are quite angry at him. While that doesn't sound like much for plot this is really something that is more abstract than completely story driven. This manages to be so without feeling arthouse in style. While the short is four and a half minutes in length the film itself ends at the three minute mark, with a long end credit sequence that managed to be nearly the best part of this, due to the on screen image accompanied by the sound of dripping water.
(R)eliving features both strong imagery and sound design. It opens to a corpse on a bed, blood running out of its eyes, I loved the framing of this shot. The rest of the short maintains an oppressive atmosphere, helped along by red and blue tints, and a variety of visual effects that include 24 style screen splitting, blurring, and facial distortion. A lot of the dialogue is also distorted, and I struggled to make out some of what was being said (quite possibly David Lynch style backwards speaking going on). Not being able to understand lines of dialogue just added to the atmosphere for me.
I had no expectations for just what (R)eliving the (E)xecution of (M)yself would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised. It isn't often I will watch a short more than once, but for this one I gave it multiple views, there was an addictive quality to it. The picture quality may not be the sharpest, and it might possibly be a bit of style over substance, yet this was a lovely piece of filmmaking that is worth a watch.
Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Hybristophilia is a paraphilia in which sexual arousal is gained from being with a partner known to have committed an outrage or crime, such as rape, murder and robbery. It is also a horror film from director Romane Simon (Blood Runs Thick, The Dawn of Zombie Apocalypse), that has a story written by Rhonnie Fordham (Blood Runs Thick). It aims to get inside the mind of a notorious serial killer and explore just what it is that made them kill.
Reporter Mary Lee (Jenna Willis - American Crime Story TV series) and her crew, consisting of cameraman Tommy (Quinton Aaron - The Blindside) and her sound engineer Brian have closely been following the exploits of the notorious serial killer known as the Sleepy Stalker (Lilian Lev - Blood Runs Thick, Tales of Frankenstein). She receives an email from the killer who has been following her work and wants to give an exclusive interview, so her, her crew, and pregnant psychologist Celeste (Sadie Katz - Bus Party to Hell) head to the spot that the killer has chosen with the hopes that it will make their careers. However upon arriving they all get drugged, and wake to find themselves tied up. Despite these restraints the interview goes ahead, with the killer willing to tell her story of what made her into the person she is.
This all started off pretty well with a montage of news reports and murders to show the impact the killer has been having. By the time the crew get tied up I was expecting some sort of torture porn film along the lines of Truth or Dare but this turns into something quite different. With everything being filmed by the cameraman on screen this could have easily been a found footage and shown events from Tommy's perspective. Instead this plays out as a more traditional movie with the killer showing the others around the house she grew up in, while diving in to moments of her life that shaped her. This takes the form of a series of flashbacks, such as when she was a child living with her parents, to being a teenager living with her abusive uncle, and all the way to the point of her first kill.
Sunday, 1 December 2019
Black Moon is a short eight minute horror that was directed by Ryan Graff (who also came up with the story). Apparently a 'black moon' is what occurs when there are two new moons in the same month, and is meant to be when supernatural occurrences become more common.
A young mother (Fabienne Tournet) is walking home one evening when she hears crying coming from a tunnel. She sees a young girl crouched down sobbing, and so decides to go and see if she can help. This simple act of kindness takes her on a path straight into her worst nightmare...
First off I loved the atmosphere here. The night time setting, along with the empty streets means that I was on board to be scared here. While I did enjoy this, the camera mostly stays firmly centered on the woman, who reacts to things occuring off screen. I am sure this was done with the old adage that what is created in your mind can be more frightening than anything shown (as well as to save on budget). This is a short film with just a few tricks. When the main one is a woman looking scared as a camera keeps swooshing past her, then despite the short length I began to wonder if there would be anything more to this.
That isn't to say I didn't like this, the ending was predictable but fun, there are decent horror elements, and I did like Tournet's acting. One part where her mobile phone loses battery and turns off mid call she says "oh no" in a disappointed voice, but the weird way she says it made it seem like a natural response rather than just acting. Black Moon started off strong, and it ends decently enough, I just wish there had been more going on in the middle section.
This short horror had atmosphere in spades, a good performance from someone who didn't have much to work with, and some strong camerawork. For me personally I would have liked more to happen in the middle section, but overall it was a decent film. Black Moon had its premiere at the Morbido Film Festival in Mexico on November 2nd.
Saturday, 30 November 2019
A short introduction to this months round-up of horror news as I appear to have quite a bit to get through. I am expecting some turbulent times to be upcoming in my life in the near future so this is the calm before the storm, will see how the next few months pan out. Anyway, onto the news...
Not so much news, more designed as a way to bring potential customers to a car website is the Zombia 3000. This is an advert for a fake car that could help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I've mentioned it here though as the advert goes into quite some detail. Including a break down of exterior features (such as plough attachment), and interior features (CB radio) this was a fun little article. Check it out for yourself here if you so wish.
Just over a year ago I reviewed Alex Noyer's excellent short horror film Conductor, which was about a very special type of music device. Well some good news in that this is going to be adapted into a feature length thriller in what will be Noyer's first full length directorial debut. Starring Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons and James Jagger the film is to be about a formerly deaf woman who somehow gained synesthetic abilities after witnessing the murder of her family as a child. She now uses these abilities in a career in music, 'composing her masterpiece through gruesome murders'.
Terror Films have announced some of the films being released as part of their 2020 line-up. There are too many to go into detail on but so far the films announced are Red Letters, All the Wrong Friends, Serena Waits, The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom, Dark Roads 79, Tropical Vampires, The Evil Rises, A Knight's Tour, Derelicts, 10/31, Still Life, The Bone Box and Irrational Fear.
I've mentioned the clown killer horror Kill Giggles before but now it has a trailer. Apparently inspired by director/writer Jaysen Buterin's fear of clowns this is about a serial killer who only targets them. It stars Michael Ray Williams as clown killer Tommy dos Santos along with Ellie Church (High on the Hog), Vernon Wells (Mad Max), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and Judith O'Dea (Night of the Living Dead).
November 8th saw Indican Pictures Ballet Blanc come to theatres. Anne-Sophie Dutoit's film centres on a young boy abandoned by his ballet troupe, who sets out on a reign of terror in the town he was left in. Ballet Blanc is due to be released on DVD and Digital platforms January 2020.
Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down), Harley Wallen, Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Maria Olsen (I Spit on Your Grave), Mel Novak (Bruce Lee's Game of Death) and Vernon Wells (Weird Science) are all set to appear in upcoming indie horror drama film The Initiation. In this movie Professor Daniel Kimmer discovers an ex-student he is having an affair with is actually a member of a secret society of feminist witches.
Hex Studios are going to release a limited edition of festival hit Here Comes Hell. Described as 'The Old House' meets 'The Evil Dead' this is a horror comedy homage to classic horror films. Jack McHenry's directorial debut is filmed in black and white and is about a group of 1930's socialites who accidentally open a gateway to Hell during a dinner party event at a dilapidated mansion. It certainly sounds interesting. This limited DVD release includes a commentary as well as a behind the scenes documentary. It can be preordered here.
German zombie film The Rise of Valhalla is now out on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital. I first mentioned this way back in 2014 so is good to see it has came out. The film looks to be set during World War II and has Nazi soldiers battling undead vikings.
Roberto D'Antona's The Last Heroes is out on Amazon Prime Video. This Italian horror is about a group of friends meeting in a small town where they once shared a terrible secret. Together they discover the ancient curse of Kaisha. The film can be found here.
I have already reviewed The Pale Faced Lady and She Will Return, and now the third chapter in Jeff Payne's well edited series has been announced. Short film In Darkness I Wait is meant to be 'a rollercoaster ride of tension of scares'. Part 3 follows two people who head into the notorious house in order to burn it down, unaware of the horrors within. It sounds like this could possibly be the final film in what has been an entertaining series.
The final film news for this month is a trailer for new horror/sci-fi/thriller mystery film Twenty Twenty. This was written, directed and produced by Dave Sweeny (Deranged Foxhole) and stars Nicholas M. Garofolo (Deranged Foxhole, Sweet Revenge). In this one a man struggles to figure out what's real or not. He encounters such characters as Terranova, who claims she is from the man's future, as well as a Mystery Woman, his landlady Mary Lee, and Old Man.
Onto music news now, firstly heavy rock artist Emma Garell has released the music video for her new single Crawl. This was directed by Cody Mausolf of The Liquor Portal and is available now via The Label Group/ INgrooves.
Hungarian punk/rock/metal band The Hellfreaks have released the video for the 2nd single 'Red Sky' from their upcoming album God on the Run. The band say the song "is about the seed of change, it's about the nature of pain." The new album can be pre-ordered here.
Synthwave trio 3force have created a reimagining of Once, There Was An Explosion which is the theme for the new science fiction game Death Stranding (that I would quite like to play if I had the funds!). The track has been described as 'a captivating piece of futuristic terror that will keep listeners riveted to their speakers'. The track is available now through independent synthwave label FiXT Neon.
While this next bit of news isn't strictly horror related I'm mentioning it as it is related to Peter Ricq who was the director/score composer/creator/co-writer of the criminally underrated horror Dead Shack (go watch it, it's great!). Anyway, he is working on a graphic novel titled A King's Vengeance. The story is about a King who gets resurrected 25 years after he dies in order to avenge his family's death. It has been described as 'a steampunk, medieval, fantasy, adventure, and violent revenge story' with influences cited as Conan the Barbarian, Robocop, GOT and Hellboy. There is currently a Kickstarter campaign going to raise funds to produce a high-end quality hardcover book. There is currently 13 days left of the campaign, so to find out more details check it out here.
Friday, 29 November 2019
Rise of the Harvester: Book Three 'Homecoming' (2019) by Steve McGinnis - Horror Graphic Novel Review
Rise of the Harvester is a horror graphic novel series that I hadn't heard of before getting the opportunity to review the latest book; Rise of the Harvester: Book 3 'Homecoming'. Obviously having not read the previous books I would be at a disadvantage, though I was curious to find out just how much prior knowledge would be needed. Some spoilers for previous entries to follow. The series is about a supernatural slasher villain known as the Harvester, in the second book 'Con of the Dead' the killer slays his way through the attendees of a horror convention, eventually escaping when the authorities mistake a cosplayer of the Harvester for the killer himself.
'Homecoming' picks up seven hours after the end of the second book. A survivor in an interrogation room tries to tell detective Warner, and Dr. Johnson they got the wrong person, but they don't believe her. Meanwhile a strange murder has occured back in the area that Samuel (the Harvester) used to live when he was alive. The two men travel there to investigate, Warner is sure it is all unrelated to the carnage at the convention, but Johnson thinks otherwise. Events lead them to a showdown with the unstoppable killer, will they be able to finally stop his path of rampage?
Before reading this I did have a quick Google search to get up to speed on what has happened previously, but even without that I don't think it hampered my enjoyment here. The interrogation scene at the start sums up the ending of 'Con of the Dead', while the backstory for Samuel is provided once again, this time by an old lady who lives in the area that the killer grew up in. The artstyle was strange, but I liked it. Panels are quite simple, but the art goes for more of a realistic look, so characters expressions make them easy to read, a pop art look which I thought was decent. Panels on the whole don't have too much background art to them but everything is very clear to follow. I liked that the flashback sequence have a change of artstyle to a far more cartoon look, which helped split it up from the present day parts. The art style was good throughout, displayed best with a few full page spreads of various topics.
There are plenty of gory kills here, and they get inventive, the first time I have seen someone get beaten to death with a cat! Someone else gets a fist punched right through their face, and plenty of people get their heads ripped off, and their intestines spilled. There was a high body count that doesn't spare young children from the Harvester's bloody path. The story here felt like it had most in common with the Halloween franchise, especially with Dr. Johnson who has a bit of Dr. Loomis in him with how he seems both repulsed, and obsessed with Harvester. The killer itself is the strong and silent type, but he has a ghost/demon type child haunting him who spurs him onwards, this helps provide motivation for him that wouldn't be able to exist otherwise. I liked the subtext that maybe the Harvester is a force of nature there to bring balance to a world in which mankind are destroying the planet.
Emulating the slasher films it pays homage to this ends with the possibility of more stories of the Harvester to follow. A simple tale, one that is full of good art, and which has a violent tale. It isn't going to break boundaries of storytelling, but like the slashers it is based on there is enjoyment to be found here. The 90 page third volume in the Rise of the Harvester series is now out to purchase, and can be done so from here, where the other two books can also be purchased.
Thursday, 28 November 2019
The award winning The Listing (directed and written by Mario Cerrito III - Human Hibachi) is a tense thriller about just how far a man would go to protect his son. It moves along at such a breakneck speed that there isn't a lot of time to really just sit down and appreciate how utterly demented this can be. The only way to rationalize this is that either the main character has serious underlying mental health issues, or that he is just isn't thinking.
Michael Mourer (Bernard Glincosky - What Death Leaves Behind) has it all, a beautiful wife, wonderful children, a lovely house, and in his job as a realtor he is very successful. One day however his son, Lucas (Kieran Boyle) is abducted from outside his home. Michael and his wife try to contact the police but they fail to show, and after discovering a note left on his car's windshield from the kidnappers he decides to take things into his own hands. They have given Michael twenty four hours to kill six people in exchange for the return of his son. Fail to get the bodies within the time frame, or alert the police to the kidnapping and Lucas will die. Seeing no other choice the desperate man heads out to do what is needed to get his son back.
The way The Listing barrels forward means there is high tension throughout. It is only when you step back a bit you see how bananas the story actually is. Firstly this only all occurs because the police are useless and forget to send out an officer to investigate the abduction. The biggest crazy aspect is Michael himself who all too easily decides to do exactly what the kidnappers ask, and with little to no convincing, even his wife seems happy with what he needs to do. The next step of insanity is that he thinks the best way to get the bodies he needs will be to kill off all visitors to the house showing he is doing the next day, and so with twenty four hours to act he decides to leave it to within a couple of hours of the deadline before starting his slaying. This makes the film a bit more dramatic and thrilling, but it makes Michael a protagonist whose actions I often found amusing rather than dramatic.
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
I am still working my way through the various Marvel Zombies comics and my latest one to be read is Marvel Zombies Return. While Marvel Zombies 3 and Marvel Zombies 4 were canological they took place in the main Marvel universe. With Return we fittingly return to the main story of the zombified Marvel heroes of Earth-2149. Spoilers for previous entries to follow of course.
At the end of Marvel Zombies 2 Malcolm Cortez teleported the surviving super zombies to an alternate universe. The anti-heroes made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Giant-Man, Wasp, and Luke Cage all end up on Earth-Z. Return takes place over five issues, with different artists and writers doing each one. In issue 1 undead Spider-Man sets out to find a totem said to grant immortality, and ends up getting caught in a battle with Kingpin and the Sinister Six. Issue 2 takes place two years later and sees zombie Giant-Man heading to Stark HQ in order to find some technology that will allow him to power a dimensional teleporter.
Issue 3 takes place two years after this, in Japan and sees zombie Spider-Man teaming up with Wolverine and Kitty Pryde to take on ninja group The Hand and zombie Wolverine. Issue 4 has Hulk returning from his banishment in deep space, he ends up getting infected, and after teaming up with a newly zombified Sentry they set out to consume Earth-Z. The final issue takes place many years in the future, with Earth-Z destroyed, zombie Spider-Man teams up with a new band of Avengers in a last ditch battle to stop the zombie plague once and for all.
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Ostinato is a short horror that runs at just under six minutes. It was completed through the 48 Hour Film Project - Shanghai, and was directed by Luke Luoh who also collaborated on the writing of this. It has also won a few rewards at the October 2019 edition of the Independent Shorts Awards.
Barret Coates stars as bartender John Fields who appears in two different settings here. The main part of the film has John repeatedly seeming to hallucinate that friends of his keep killing him. Wherever he goes he gets these violent visions, but just what is really going on? The second part has John in a white room directly speaking to the camera, these appear a few times edited within the other story.
So the mystery here is just what is happening. Within the six minutes this is clearly revealed with a third act twist that is kinda similar to a certain film involving a clown. I liked the variety on offer here, from being smothered with a pillow, to getting his throat slashed open, and even death by beer can, the effects were good, especially considering the time constraints. As part of the project the creators were in, not only did they have only two days to make this, but they had some other weird constraints in the form of a character, prop, spoken line of dialogue, and genre they were forced to go with. That these elements are integrated smoothly was impressive.
Ostinato is a well made short that features some nice editing and directing, a solid cast of actors, and some good ideas. It is also quite twisted, especially towards the end with the distorted music and the explanation of what has been occuring. With something this fun created in just two days it would be good to see what the director could come up with in a larger time frame.
Monday, 25 November 2019
I have said it plenty of time before, but I just am not a fan of Stephen King's writing, yet this year has been a good year for films of his work with Pet Sematary, It: Chapter 2, Doctor Sleep and this Netflix adaptation of In the Tall Grass. The film is based on a novella King wrote with his son Joe Hill. This is directed by Vincenzo Natali who I was not surprised to discover was the director on Cube, as this feels very similar to that cult classic at times.
Siblings Cal (Avery Whitted) and his pregnant sister Becky (Laysla De Oliveira - iZombie TV series) are travelling across America, and their journey has taken them to Kansas. While stopped briefly by a huge field of tall grass the two hear a young boy shouting for help, saying he has been trapped in the field for days and has been unable to find a way out. As he doesn't sound that far away Cal and Becky head in to find him, but soon not only get seperated from one another, but also discover that they too are now trapped, somehow unable to find the route back to the road. They, and a few others also lost discover the field has the ability to bend not only space, but also time...
Curiosity was the biggest factor in me deciding to watch In the Tall Grass, I just needed to know not only how this could ever work as a feature length film (101 minutes in length), but also what on Earth could happen to keep this interesting. With Natali as director you have someone who must be used to making use of a limited space, and making it seem like it is a much larger one. With Cube each section of the cube was just the same set lit differently, I imagine the field of grass was also utilised in a similar fashion. That series is something I will just keep on going back to as I really was reminded heavily of it. Not only with everywhere looking the same, but the time loss element reminded me heavily of Cube 2: Hypercube, with characters running into past and future versions of themselves. To help create the enormity of the field of grass there are many drone shots used, the wind on the grass often makes it seem like a living entity, most successful when the camera flies up from a character to give the impression of the grass swallowing them.
Sunday, 24 November 2019
I don't really play many games on my mobile phone, but after getting an email about horror game Nox Mortis I thought I may as well check it out. This is more of an experience than a game per se, and it is designed specifically with VR in mind, though can also be played in a traditional sense as well.
There is limited set-up but basically you are in a haunted room, and due to being paralyzed with fear you are unable to move. All you can do is turn around on the spot, hoping against hope to survive the random horror coming your way.
Nox Mortis has you in a first person perspective, stood in a room lit with a blood red light. Each game you play is completely randomised and has you experiencing 12 unique scares out of a pool of 20. These include among them a mounted deer head laughing, a giant spider scuttling across the ceiling, a figure appearing at the window, and a doll's head rolling down the corridor towards you. All you have available to combat these terrors is 360 turning movement (using a finger on the screen to move around), as well as a zoom option that as it would suggest zooms in the screen a bit. Each play lasts a few minutes depending on how well you do, and it always ends (as far as I can tell) with your demise. I played through this around three times and felt like I had seen most of what the game has to offer. I liked the visuals and the sound design was actually not that bad. Plenty of knocking sounds, creepy laughter, and other traditional horror noises.
If you are reading this and thinking it sounds very limited then you would be right. However Nox Mortis is free to download and play and so it is hard to complain about not too much content. There are no microtransactions, the only concession to being free is having to watch a short advert if you wish to play again once you have died. I played this entirely in 2D, as with everything it would be better in VR, I don't even need to try it to know that. Despite that the first time I died I did give out a small yelp as I was not expecting it! Sure this is a wafer thin experience, but it is also free, and it is of a high enough quality that it is worth a go.