Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Last Request (2019) - Horror Film Review

The Last Request is a low budget indie horror that was written by and stars Dallas Ryan and Ryan Vania, with Dallas also directing. This was an odd film that became quite experimental at times. While it is a bit rough around the edges the general idea behind it was decent enough.

John (Ryan) and his brother, Michael (Vania) wake up in a strange house with no recollection of how they got there. John soon discovers a letter which informs the siblings  that Michael's daughter has been kidnapped, and that unless they play a series of cruel games she will be killed. They are also told that any attempt to leave the house will also result in the girl's death. Bizarrely, they have also been given a small dog which they are instructed they must take care of.

This is a low-fi movie in which everything is suggested and barely anything is actually shown. The brothers are on board to do what the letter instructs without any real evidence to support the claims. It starts off innocently enough with them told a watch they find has been fitted with a bomb. As the day goes on the two get told to do more and more sadistic things to each other. All of this occurs off camera, when trauma does happen this too is all just suggested with no blood or anything. This is working to the limitations of the budget but it also created a feeling of low stakes. The fact that their kidnapper chose to speak to them via printed letters hidden around the house fits this weird low stakes situation.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Animal Uprising! (2020) - Horror Anthology Book Review

Any frequent visitor to The Rotting Zombie will know I absolutely love anthologies due to the variation they always bring with them. Any anthology worth its salt will have a theme, and by the title, Animal Uprising! it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to discover the theme here is, of course animals...and insects as it turns out. Included in this anthology are 14 different short stories, each of which written by a different author. Some of the stories included here might not be as good as others, or not particularly to my liking, but all of them are well written with even my least favourites fitted in well.
Rather than go through the stories in order I have instead tried to group them together as best I can into four different categories. These are magical and mythical stories, stories about made-up animals, stories about insects, and stories concerning real life animals. 

Magical and mythical stories make up nearly half of the 14 here and are a varied bunch. Michelle Mellon's The Goat is the books first story. It wasn't bad, but having a goat possibly be a devil in disguise is something I have seen done to death in plenty of other media and so it felt maybe a bit too familiar.
Old Shuck by Patrick Winters is another one that uses a familiar idea, this time in the form of a dog that portends doom. I did like the industrial revolution setting used here though.
How Does Your Garden Grow by M.R Deluca is one of only a couple that injects some humour into things. This one is about a nosy journalist whose curiosity into the secret behind a woman's award winning garden leads to great misfortune for him.
Jacob Floyd's Taxidermy Nightmare does exactly what the title suggests. Like so many stories in Animal Uprising! this is a cautionary tale, made all the better by a hunting enthusiast's twisted taxidermy creations coming to life to get their revenge!
Now everyone dislikes the deceitful and sinister animal that is the fox and Judith Baron's The Fox is a good example for why that is the case. I really loved this one, both with the unique setting; a car in Hong Kong one dark and rainy night, and how it blends myths and legends into real life. Sure it was obvious where this was going but it was a great read.
The final magic based story is the collections one true comedic story, J.T Haven's The Lion, The Witch, and The Walrus. This was sandwiched in between two much darker stories and so it was a breath of much needed fresh air.

Friday, 31 July 2020

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for July 2020

Another month into this dreadful year and added to my list of woes is a bad back I seem unable to fully recover from, and the more surreal incident of the phantom attic rats. I have a week off work in a weeks time, it will be my first proper time off since February (I had 4 days off at the end of May, but that was due to my mother dying so wasn't exactly a happy relaxing period). I am looking forward to getting some rest and relaxation as am currently feeling quite burnt out from this draining year! Video game update for July...I was quite deep into Control, but then something newer and shiner came along (Ghost of Tsushima) so I have briefly shelved that. I have also been playing more Dead by Daylight recently, it's one of those weird games where I feel I will never be at a stage where I can comfortably put up a measured review.

A bit late as I received the email about this at the end of June! Arrow Video Channel's July lineup included undead comedy Zombie for Sale, as well as Gamera: The Complete Collection which brings together all 12 films (the collection is also coming out on Blu-ray on the 17th August (UK) and 18th August (NA)). These films went live on the channel in the US and UK from 1st July and are joined by Creepshow 2, Bloodstone and Black Rainbow
Hand in hand with this news is the Arrow Video Blu-ray releases for July. Zombie for Sale, Black Rainbow, and Inferno of Torture came out on 7th July, Hiroshima on the 14th, and Bloodstone and Life is a Long Quiet River coming out on 21st July.
Lake Michigan Monster, a 'black-and-white nautical nightmare' will be available on the Arrow Video Channel and Digital HD on 3rd August in the US and UK. This comes from writer/director/actor Ryland Brickson Cole Tews and is about a bizarre sea captain on a quest to kill the sea monster that killed his father. The film is also enjoying a 24 hour virtual premiere on 31st July, though I am not sure this blog post will be up in time for you to see that. Still, try the link if you want to try and get a late ticket!
Finally, the Arrow Video Channel releases for August sees alongside Lake Michigan Monster, classics Tenebrae and Children of the Corn joining the platform, as well as The Untamed, Inferno of Torture, The Comic, The Case of the Scorpion's Tale, The Black Report, and Black Test Car.

Terror Films have formed a new partnership with Playnow Media. They are a leader in niche-specific, long-tail VOD/OTT channels across a variety of streaming services. Titles, including The Taking of Deborah Logan and Hell House LLC are now on the channel.

MVD Entertainment and Rue Morgue Magazine have launched Midnight Movie Unchained. This is an offshoot of the SVOD service Midnight Movie Society and is a free channel exclusively at Roku. It is designed to offer more traditional horror. The titles are from the MVD film catalog, from underground horror to cult classics.

Summer Hill Films have recently released ultra-low budget horror The Luring on Amazon, YouTube Movies, Google Play, iTunes and other streaming platforms. The film is about a man named Garret who tries to recover the memories from his tenth birthday. He is unaware that he lost them due to a horrific event that occurred there. This surreal psychological thriller was filmed at director/producer, Christopher Wells old family home in Vermont a week before it was sold.

Lection, the post-apocalyptic political drama from David Axe (SHED) is out now thanks to Gravitas Ventures, I will leave it up to the press release to sum up this unique film: 'The world ended. Then they had an election. The apocalypse wasn't loud. They forgot how to make things. They forgot how to run things. They even forgot...how to talk to each other. Now in the aftermath, do the residents of an isolated village entrust their ruined society to the victims of its collapse? Or do they ask those who wrecked it to try to make it right again? Who's in charge? How do they even decide?'

Me and the Devil is to be released on 1st September under the HNN Presents banner of Bayview Entertainment. This comes from Italian filmmaker Dario Almerighi and is about the unravelling of Mario (played by Antonio De Nitto) after his fiancee dies in strange circumstances during a holiday. The film shares its release date with Master Pieces.

A crowdfunder campaign has started for the female driven psychological thriller Callback which comes from HorrorScreams VideoVault and FoxTrot Productions. It is about a struggling actress Sonia (Jennifer Nangle - The Last Roommate) who snaps when her successful friend Jessica (Jackie Falcon - Lockdown) gets the role she wanted, and ends up kidnapping her. The Indiegogo campaign can be found here.

A new clip has been release for upcoming horror anthology Realm of Shadows. This anthology promises that all its stories are based on real events, and is to feature such notable horror icons as Tony Todd (Candyman franchise), Michael Berryman (Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes) and Tamara Glynn (Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers). The clip is from the segment Dreamlady

Radar Pictures are in development of an auditory horror film called Unseen, with Jen and Sylvia Soska set to write and direct this. It is based on BlindSide, an audio-only mobile adventure game. The film is about a couple who wake up blind in a nightmarish world. It sounds like it will join the growing sub-genre of horror about sensory deprivation (Bird Box, A Quiet Place, Creature in the Dark)

Polestar Studio's Evergreen Is the Blood was due to be filmed in July and is based on a screenplay written by award-winning filmmaker John Reign (who also directs and stars in this) and William Long. The film is about a man who is living as a recluse after the death of his family. It turns out a lair of vampires are living in the woods around his secluded home. 

The next episode in the paranormal show We Want To Believe is now out. The title is a bit of a mouthful; Episode 3: The Demon Jar Part Three. This episode sees the team continue their investigation at an apparently haunted hotel. Check it out for yourself via YouTube

Evil Dead documentary Hail to the Deadites is to have its world premiere in August at the Fantasia International Film Festival. This documentary is about the fans of the iconic franchise and includes interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, fans and more. Of course, with the ongoing pandemic the film festival has been revamped as a virtual festival. The documentary should be up to watch on the Fantasia online platform from August 20th to September 2nd. It's 'geo-blocked' to Canadian audiences only for some reason.

The trailer for season 6 of The Walking Dead spin-off show, Fear the Walking Dead has dropped. I've only ever seen one and a half seasons of this show so it is about high time I get around to catching up with events. The new season premieres on Monday 12th October at 9pm on AMC.


UK based dark cinematic rock artist Brocarde has released the official music video for World Upside Down. This self-directed video features Ray Luzier (KoRn) on drums, and the song is taken from new EP, Love Me Till I'm Beautiful that came out on 19th July.

Continuing the pandemic theme, darkwave act Thrillsville has put out a new video for song Lockdown. It made its premiere on ReGen Magazine. Rani Sharone from the group stated "This song was directly inspired by the unrelenting restlessness of being 'stuck on lock-down'. In essence it's a romantic song about longing for a normal night on the town."


Horror board game Slice & Dice will be available for pre-order from 11th August. This is a deck building strategy game from Horror-Fix creator Ash Hamilton. The blurb for this says 'In a dash to either kill or save the game's victims, players will have to not only defeat the victims themselves, but other players in combat as well. Ever wondered if Chucky could go head to toe against Leatherface? Well, Slice & Dice looks to answer that question and more.' This will be on Kickstarter for pre-sale.

Final news is with David Moody (author of the phenomenal Autumn series of zombie novels). After suffering a heart attack earlier this year (another nail in the coffin of 2020) he is now thankfully recovered and set to release a new book. The Bleed: Rupture is the first in a three book series that he is writing with Chris Philbrook (Adrian's Undead Diary) and Mark Tufo (Zombie Fallout). The book is out now in paperback, ebook and as an Audible exclusive audiobook.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Smiling Woman (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

It is very rarely that I abandon a movie I've been sent for review, but today, 40 minutes into one I did just that. To be fair it wasn't a horror, and while I wont shame it by giving away its title it concerned copious drug use, hookers, and movie moguls and was really very dull. So, I needed a movie to fill the gap in my schedule, thankfully, YouTube is a veritable treasure trove of short horrors and at random I chose Alex Magaña's Smiling Woman.

It is 1am at a desolate train station and a girl (Ariel Fullinwider) is sat waiting for a train. It isn't before long before a strange woman (Merlynda Sol) catches her attention. This woman, wearing a bright yellow dress keeps showing up in different places, always with a strange smile on her lips.

Smiling Woman was a well made short that covers a lot of ground in its 2 minute 44 second run time. There was perhaps too much going on. The woman standing around smiling would have been effective enough, instead there is also the inclusion of texts from an unknown person added into the mix which just detracted from the more visual horror. The woman was creepy, though the best part is ruined in the image for the short that shows the very end of it. People smiling for no reason always come across as sinister, and the sheer isolation of the setting worked here. The soundtrack was far too dramatic for what was going on. Usually music doesn't get in the way of films too much, yet here it is so over blown that it seemed overwhelming and drowning out the atmosphere.

There is nothing particularly surprising about Smiling Woman, but it is well made and effective in the parts that it does do right. With a tighter focus on the titular lady, rather than branching out into the generic and often used text message idea this could have been something special. Regardless, it isn't bad, worth a watch if you have a few minutes spare.



Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Star Wars - Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead (1997) by John Whitman - Children's Horror Book Review

Star Wars - Galaxy of Fear was a most surprising series of books in that they were basically the Goosebumps of Star Wars. This 12 book collection were written with children in mind and mainly centered around the young siblings, Tash and Zak, who get into a series of misadventures while travelling around the galaxy with their secretive Uncle Hoole. City of the Dead is the second book in the series, and takes place chronologically three years after the events of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and just a few days after the first Galaxy of Fear book, Eaten Alive (which apparently was to do with an evil sentient planet). Of course all expanded universe lore has since been ruled non-canon, after reading this one that is probably a good thing! I chose City of the Dead to read as it is a story about the undead.

Hoole, Tash, and Zak hitched a ride on the Millenium Falcon (of course) to the mysterious planet Necropolis, in order to secure a new starship. The inhabitants of Necropolis are a superstitious bunch and hold a special regard for the dead, believing an ancient legend that not to do so will unleash a zombie plague. Zak makes some new friends, and they dare him to enter the Necropolitan cemetery at midnight. Doing so he is more than shocked when he discovers the dead rising up from their graves. While all this is going on the legendary bounty hunter, Boba Fett has arrived on the planet, searching for a wanted mad scientist.   

Star Wars: Death Troopers which came out 2009 was a much better Star Wars zombie story, which wasn't too hard. To be fair, that book was intended for adults and so the horror could be a lot more extreme. Even so, as good as that book was the author just could not resist including some of the popular characters from the films. Their inclusion was quite jarring and so, when City of the Dead immediately has the main characters on board the Millennium Falcon I felt very dubious as to how good this book would be. This book worships the ground Boba Fett walks on, he is stuffed into far too much of the 144 page novel and is always treated as if he is the coolest person ever to exist. If it wasn't for him this would have been a much better story, as it is, like Death Troopers that came much later the presence of film characters ruins events.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Heartbeat (2020) - Horror Film Review

Heartbeat is a giallo inspired thriller that was directed by Gregory Hatanaka. It was actually filmed at the same time as Choke, a film of his I reviewed at the start of the month. Due to this it features many of the same actors. Also like Choke this is one strange film, its stylistic choices certainly made it stand out, but I'm not sure it was entirely to my liking.

Jennifer (Nicole D'Angelo - Choke, and who also co-wrote this with Hatanaka and Chris Spinelli) is a reporter whose latest story, concerning the dodgy dealings of a company, has resulted in a slowly growing number of murders. The victims all happened to work for the company. She teams up with, and gets involved with Detective Santoro (Spinelli - Choke) and together they search for the answers into who the killer could be.

There is a certain rhythm to the death scenes here, and while they were certainly interesting to watch they were also a bit strange. In giallo fashion we have the killer's perspective as he approaches his victims. All we see of him (or her) is their black leather gloves, and a nice little tidbit of the new victims initial reaction to seeing this person. The kills, either by strangulation or by cut-throat razor are only partly shown, and this is what makes this feel so different. The initial part of the kill plays out in a traditional format, but then the camera freezes on a close-up of the victims face before cutting to a shot of the person now lying on the floor dead. It gives a weird dispassionate feel to these killings and worked well, but with such a huge amount of victims it would have been nice for some variation. The prologue murder was a very bloody affair, so it was a shame that nothing that comes after matches this.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Dead Dicks (2019) - Horror Film Review

When I received the email about Dead Dicks the idea behind it really stood out for me. I love anything to do with time loops and while what happens is slightly different here it still involved loops. The story here is a crazy one but it still goes into a realistic look at suicide and mental health, and the effect that has on loved ones who are trying to help someone going through that. This was co-directed and co-written by Chris Bavota (Minutes Past Midnight) and Lee Paula Springer in what was her directorial debut.

After receiving a concerning phone call from her suicidal brother Richie (Heston Horwin - A Zombie Love Story) one night, his sister Becca (Jillian Harris) rushes around to his apartment. To her shock she discovers him dead in the bathtub, but is even more shocked when her brother then walks into the room. He explains to her that for some unknown reason he is unable to die, or rather that he can die but when he does an exact copy is birthed in his bedroom via a huge growth of what appears to be mould on the wall there. What begins as already surreal takes a darker turn over the night as Becca not only has to deal with her brothers strange condition, but also with a nosy neighbour, Matt (Matt Keyes - X-Men: Dark Phoenix), and the fact that despite her brother constantly being 're-born' he doesn't actually want to live anymore.

There is a feeling of David Cronenberg to this movie which isn't a hard feeling to discover. The fleshy growth on the wall is the most obvious sign of this, but also how the darkly surreal becomes normal. This starts out as almost a comedy with both the dialogue and the editing contributing to this. Richie has become blasé about dying, and his sisters reactions at all that is going on often initially seems funny, helped by moments such as a quick montage of Richie's deaths. The central idea was out there, and a lot of the mystery you would think would be exactly how any of this is happening. This is almost relegated to the background though and becomes more an intimate look at one man's mental health troubles. What at first seems to be a huge gift for Richie becomes a curse over the course of the film. No matter how many times he is brought back it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't want to live. Dead Dicks never tries to fix the character of Richie, there is no clear cut happy ending here, instead it is more for his character to put into words the reasons behind his depression and try to explain as best he can to the person who loves him most.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Genevieve (2020) - Short Horror Film Review

Nicholas Michael Jacobs 2019 anthology film Urban Fears featured a segment that was about a grotesque supernaturally possessed doll named Genevieve. Now the director has released a spin-off from Urban Fears, and from the title, Genevieve it is obviously all about that particular doll.

A thief (Nicholas Michael Jacobs) has heard about the notorious, supposedly possessed doll that is kept in the basement of Ted Morris's house, he suspects that the doll will fetch a lot of money from the right buyer. With Ted at his son's funeral the thief decides to break in and steal it. Unfortunately for him, he is ill prepared when he finds out for himself that the rumours about this creation are all too true...

Genevieve is as predictable as can be, yet, like all of the directors films there is just an indie charm here that many others fail to conjure up. The best part for me was the black and white prologue that plays after a sound bite. It was all so atmospheric and mysterious. I'm not too sure how much this plays into the segment from Urban Fears, the doll itself stuck in my mind, but not so much the story that revolved around it. Like in that film, here the doll is only ever shown at extreme close up, or in the distance, done so to get around the trouble of making it appear to move on its own.

The meat of the short is kind of a found footage, but it seemed more like what we were seeing was literally from the thief's perspective, rather than being anything recorded. It was fun going back to that basement, and the doll remains as hideous as ever, which is a good thing I might add. I may be misremembering, but I recall it being wise cracking and vulgar, here we just hear the doll giggle a lot.

Despite the predictability of the short, and the general lack of any sort of violence I really enjoyed it. It was nice revisiting what is an effectively designed doll, and the filmmaker is getting better and better at the creation process of his films. Genevieve is free to watch on YouTube, so check it out for yourself.


Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Arrangement (2020) - Horror Film Review

The Arrangement is a thriller that at first glance doesn't seem to be that much to do with horror. It has quite an interesting story to its creation. The script was originally written by Andrew Hunsicker (an actor from Epidemic) when his son was just 6 years old. His son, Jake Hunsicker then grew up to become a writer/director, and together they reworked the original script. It is this reworked version that Jake has directed here. Andrew's other children, Jessica, Melissa and Nick also had key roles in the production of The Arrangement.

Newly made detective, Jessica (Jennifer M. Kay) and her partner, Harry (Danny Donnelly) are called out to investigate the apparent suicide of a businesswoman. The woman died holding a polaroid in her hand which has the woman with a man who Harry identifies as an adult filmmaker. It isn't too long before this man is also discovered dead. With both victims dying at around the same time one day apart Jessica begins to suspect that a serial killer is on the loose. More evidence of this is that the photo the detectives found at the scene of the original crime keeps seeming to get replaced with an updated photo that reveals the identity of the next victim. With corruption in the force and the trail of victims getting closer to home the two detectives must race to try and protect those still alive, from a killer who seems able to strike no matter where their target happens to be...

The Arrangement is played seriously, and the majority of its characters seem realistic. It's a shame then that one of the main actors appears to be playing a comedic role. Harry bumbles and stumbles around all the scenes he is present in and became a big distraction from the story going on. The stuttering way he talks, even the way he runs, with arms flapping everywhere, I just couldn't take him seriously. He came across like a child trapped in an adults body. His character is the films heart, and while he was very attention stealing he was at least memorable even if he never failed to break the tension. Jessica was the straight woman to his bumbling and she was far more of a subdued character, but also something of a mystery. Near the movie's start for instance it is implied that she gets raped, but aside from a quick scene in a bathroom afterwards she then appears perfectly fine, even with her apparent rapist. The main core cast of characters were all interesting in their own right, each of the victims having their own strong personalities.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Toxic Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space - Horror Film News

I don't really do news posts for individual items anymore on my blog, but made an exception for Toxic Alien Babes From Outer Space as the creator, David Black asked me nicely! Black is an Australian director whose works usually take the form of short horror films, often comedic ones at that. Despite being in lock-down due to the obvious he has still managed to release 5 films over the past 3 months. These include Babble On, Babylon, Quest of Questions, Blargenfloof and the Seventh Golden Shamrock, Sinister Symbiosis and Klink, Klunk, Klonk. His latest film is a little different as it is to be a feature length one.

He has teamed up with Gerado Chierchia for this latest film, and it is Chierchia who is going to be directing and editing it. They face some challenges in that Melbourne, where they are based, is currently back in lock-down. To deal with some of these challenges, green screen, sfx, and some currently secret methods are going to be used to help create what is intended to be a pro level film.

The film has already had some actors confirmed, these confirmations include Vixey Teh who will be starring as the titular Toxic Alien Zombie Babe, Melanie Kuhn as Sgt. Harper, Natasha Mace as a 'concerned mother', and Glen Cook. All of these actors have previously worked with Black, either in front of, or behind the scenes on his previous films.

The intention of the movie is to pay homage to cult classics from the past, ones such as War of the Worlds, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Attack of the 50 Foot Women. From the title alone this is obviously inspired by that golden age of B-movies. The original idea was to have plenty of guest appearances from B-movie stars, but they all turned down the offer. Chierchia says of this movie:
"I'm sure the film will be interesting...this period will be a time we will never forget...what better way to put ourselves on the inside, of our memories by making a film for us and for the future."
For more information about this head to the film's Facebook page, here.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Stained (2019) - Horror Film Review

Stained (also known as The Letter Red) is a horror that came from director Joston Theney (director of the Axeman series). I don't know if it was due to being hungover today (got drunk for the first time since pre-pandemic the night before I wrote this) but I really struggled to make head or tail of what on Earth was going on. It was two thirds into the run time that it all clicked and I finally understood what the film was actually about.

John Macbeth (Edward Gusts - Alien Expedition) is distraught when he learns the long promised for pay rise at his job is not going to materialise. During an argument with his boss, Gregory Duncan (Theney) he kills him, and ends up dumping the body in a nearby river. Returning home to his wife, Jane (Arielle Brachfeld) she is delighted with what he has done to secure their future, and uses his new murderous streak to her advantage. John becomes the new boss of his company, but as things begin to unravel he has to take more and more drastic actions to stop the police from discovering his many crimes.

My mind just could not understand the film at all to begin with. Characters seemed to be extremely over acting, so much so that it felt like they were aliens inhabiting the skins of humans and trying their best to seem normal. It was also bizarre how John and Jane seemed to both independently go insane at the same time. It made for an intense killer couple, but also seemed to make little sense. Once I got past the 80 minute mark I suddenly realised that Stained, rather than an original story, was actually a very loose modern day remake of Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth! In school I studied The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Hamlet, but not Macbeth. Due to this I had no idea what the original story was all about and so much of this movie was lost on me. It sure retroactively made sense why some of the characters seemed so insane. The three women fawning over Macbeth constantly were obviously the three witches, and after a quick summary of the plot of the old play it became clear many characters shared similar names and roles in both the play and this reimagining. It was only once I deciphered the films intent that I began to enjoy it, but that could only go some way to repairing the films first two acts.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Never Without the Pentagram (2020) by Hvile I Kaos/Emerson Sinclair - Music EP Review

I rarely do music reviews and with good reason, I am at best ill informed when it comes to music, I certainly have no place critiquing it. At the end of last year I wrote a review of the latest album from Hvile I Kaos, which is the personal project of prolific California-based cellist and composer Kakophonix. Now he has teamed up with Emerson Sinclair with a pretty neat split EP titled Never Without the Pentagram.

This EP is made up of 7 tracks, Hvile I Kaos opens and closes this, with Sinclair contributing the middle tunes. Opener is Rise, Engulf, Envenom which even at 11 minutes long was a genuinely good track. Like the previous EP I reviewed this sounded like 'rustic horror', all strings, again evoking The Witcher series of games. Second track, Intro is where things begin to change, and the journey that I didn't even expect begins to move along. This 2 minute track introduces the vocals of Sinclair which I was not expecting, while keeping the rustic sound.
Graphite is a continuation of the transformation in style of sound. Starting off with Medieval sounding female chanting this changes into something that I can only describe as making the demonic sound sacred and holy. Fourth track, Mother brings with it the introduction of industrial sounding music, and continues the unexpected with the addition of barking dogs who in their own way close out the track. This leads into Singularity that becomes even more industrial, with added synth, the sound reminded me a bit of NIN. The song felt light and optimistic despite the lyrics sounding like they were coming from the perspective of an occult or demonic being.
Penultimate track, Closing brings back the strings, and like Intro is a short interlude. It leads to final track, the 6 and a half minute Cleanse, Dispel, Disperse that begins with the typical old style sound but becomes something that sounds a lot more modern as it goes on.

I like the sound of Hvile I Kaos, so I knew that part was going to be good. I wasn't expecting how varied and unexpected the places this went to. Each track felt like an exciting new present to open, with it always managing to surprise. Kakophonix has said that the EP "flow as a continuous work of ceremonial magick", and that "stylistically it's best described as occult neoclassical with elements of black metal and electronic music". I may not know much when it comes to music, but I know this was a joyous ride from start to finish. Never Without the Pentagram was released on 10th July by Metal Assault.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

The Music Box (2018) - Horror Film Review

The Music Box (Il Carillon to give it it's native title) is an English language Italian horror that was directed and co-written by John Real (Feel the Dead). The story being told here is one that was very familiar, and due to a lack of thrills was also one that became quite tedious to watch.

Annabelle (Rachel Daigh) and her newly orphaned niece, Sophie (Cearl Pepper) have moved into an old Victorian house. Buried in the garden they discover an old box that contained an antique music box. Sophie becomes obsessed with this music box and takes it with her everywhere she goes. Strange things start to occur around Sophie though, objects moving on their own, lights switching on and off, and a ghostly little girl who keeps appearing. Unable to get rid of the box, Annabelle seeks out help to deal with what is becoming apparently clear is a possessed item.

This was quite a dull film and that is down to several factors. Firstly, creepy child films have been done to death so many times before, and this one brings with it nothing original. It all played out so safely that it felt like it was following a formula rather than trying to stand out as a unique horror. Nothing much really happens here from beginning to end. There is a gradual ramping up of the horror, but even by the films finale there isn't really much going on. The ghostly girl appears every now and again but doesn't do much other than standing around before abruptly vanishing. Sophie, who is mute for much of the film had no personality to her character and so I found it hard to care about what happened to her. Annabelle also was a bit of a bland character. The lack of personality from any character here surely helped to keep events boring.