Thursday, 25 July 2013

Rise of the Zombies (2012) - Zombie Horror Film Review


There are so many zombie films out there that I can be forgiven for having never heard of this one before today. The cover is dominated by Danny Trejo's head, obviously the films big star (the guy has been in a ridiculous amount of films and TV shows, everything from Breaking Bad to Halloween and The Devils Rejects). What is also obvious is that the film makers couldn't afford to hire him for the whole film as *spoiler alert* he is killed off very early on into Rise of the Zombies. Anyway, onwards with the review.

Zombie apocalypse has swept at least America, a water based infection it seems. A bunch of survivors are holed up in Alcatraz Prison, San Francisco. One of the survivors is Lynn Snyder (Mariel Hemingway) a scientist whose colleague working in the city may have come up with a cure to the undead virus. Not long into the film zombies over run the prison causing mass chaos and death, with just one person staying behind to do his own research into the cure the rest flee by dingy to the mainland where they split into two groups. Snyder wants to head into San Francisco to find her scientist buddy's work, while Captain Caspian (Trejo) wants to head to a safe zone the radio talked of. Both go their separate ways and both groups encounter many zombies...


For a lowish budget straight to DVD film there are a few cool actors here. As well as Trejo you have a main trio of characters that include Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl), and Chad Linburg (Ash in Supernatural). There are hundreds of zombies, they have various states of make up on them, some have prosthetics for fun head crushing, others are legless and crawl along with their insides trailing behind. One of the blurb pieces spoke of this as The Walking Dead with more violence and I can kind see that, initially I did think it had a The Walking Dead style look to things.

Rise of the Zombies is a jam packed zombie ride, it seems no one can walk more than a few paces before hordes of zombies show up, sometimes to silly effect though. On the boat ride over to the mainland swimming zombies suddenly appear, I do not know how they managed to locate a solitary boat in the dead of night. Later while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in what is the most stupid part of the film legions of zombies quickly crawl up the bridge supports like ants or something to attack the humans. That scene in particular is so stupid as later on in the film zombies are unable to climb over a fence that is literally only 7 foot tall. Zombies only seem able to run when the film calls for it, tense battle in a narrow corridor sees them almost charging, yet later scenes out on the empty streets of San Francisco the ghouls stumble around as if they have all the time in the world to catch their prey.


As is often the case with zombie films nowadays there is a hell of a lot of CGI effects used. Gunshots as you would expect but also really weird CGI used to show a helicopter in the air, a jeep crashing down a hill, and a tram crash that results in a hilariously bad and over the top explosion. Jeez, the explosion effect is the worst and there are plenty of them. I get that these big stunts could not be done for real, but the CGI is so obvious that it rips you out the film a bit. A scene in which a character goes through a Saw style self torture situation was so gruesome to watch that I admit I shielded my eyes with my hand! So not all effects are bad.

The plot is extremely bare bones, it is just there as an excuse for the characters to fight lots and lots of zombies. There are sub plots that go absolutely no where and just seem pointless. For instance the film kept going back to this one character as if there was going to be some importance to him, but no, eventually he just dies bringing nothing at all to the main events of Rise of the Zombies. I think the main problem with the poor story is you just don't care. The characters are not very likable or interesting, their goals are boring and their actions make you scream in frustration with what idiots they are all being.


There is nothing new here, yet Rise of the Zombies is better than average, I could see myself seeing this again whilst drunk or with friends as a film to watch with your brain disengaged. So a six out of ten then, but a respectable six. There are far, far worse zombie films than this, no new ideas but you get lots of zombie action.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The World's End (2013) - Comedy Horror Film Review


The World's End is the final film in the so called Cornetto Trilogy. The previous film of course (all staring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright) being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. While Dead dealt with zombies, and Fuzz dealt with a cult The World's End has a sci-fi bend to it influenced by the Invasion of the Body Snatchers films.

At the start of their adult lives 5 friends led by cocky rebel Gary King (Pegg) attempt a legendary pub crawl that would see them visit each of the 12 pubs in their home town of Newton Haven. The pub crawl is not successful though much to Kings dismay. 20 years later King decides to find his old friends and convinces them to return to Newton Haven, this time to successfully complete the crawl. However the town has changed since they have gone, nothing seems the same and the towns folk all act strange. It turns out that it isn't just bad nostalgia that has caused this perception change but that it appears the entire town have been replaced with alien pod people. Not wanting to draw attention to the fact that they know this fact King convinces his group to plough on and complete the pub crawl, but is this a sound plan or is King putting his own wishes against the betterment of the group?


When I first saw Shaun of the Dead I actually didn't like it! It took me repeated viewings before I fell in love with it, it has layers of comedy that just shine more and more with repeated watchings. The same happened with Hot Fuzz, though in that case I watched the film while sat in the very front row of the cinema so was hard to enjoy it with a terrible view. I left The World's End not thinking it was fantastic, though certainly better than the poor trailer would suggest. Cameo wise this has the most yet of the trilogy, everyone from Mark Heap (Spaced, Jam), Al Murray, Pierce Brosnan to loads and loads of actors from Dead and Fuzz show up. Pretty much each of the 12 pubs introduces a slew of recognisable faces.

The 5 main characters are not that well developed. King is unapologetically cocky, a teen trapped in a 40 year olds body who sees the failed pub crawl as the starting point of his lifes downward spiral. For him completing the crawl is a way to fix his problems, even the appearance of a town full of deadly robots (or Blanks as the group term them) is not going to stop his mission and he will drag his friends with him to the bitter (The World's) end and his salvation. Pegg does a great job there, the others are not so interesting. The rest of the group have all matured and have proper jobs and are not that different from each other. Nick Frost as Andrew Knightley has a hidden deep seated resentment for something King did in the past, Martin Freeman as Oliver is kinda bland, as is Paddy Considine as Steven. Eddie Marsen as Peter the former bullied kid is very well acted actually.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a scary film, the idea of being surrounded by emotionless husks and the potential to get assimilated was frightening, however even though it is a similar situation here there is never any fear. The Blanks may attack in force but they are physically quite weak, literally falling apart when attacked which leads to some fun moments, and plenty of blue ink (which is what the Blanks bleed). I kept thinking if the blood/fuel/whatever was red then it would have probably ramped up the film to an 18. The special effects are quite cool and fight scenes are chaotic and exciting but Blanks are just less dangerous zombies really.

I did laugh out loud on quite a few occasions, the humour's in full force but I would have to see it again to see if it is as funny as the previous films, it didn't seem like it was. Plot wise the whole sci-fi angle is ok, bit of a sloppy resolution that left me slightly unsatisfied, and the film did seem to drag a bit towards its final section. I couldn't decide whether this film was a 6 or 7, I went with 7 in the end based on the assumption that it will get better with repeated viewings.

SCORE:

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Self Storage (2012) - Short Horror Film Review

Self Storage is a short film made by Get Coned Productions, directed by Chris Durand. For just over 7 minutes it manages to have a start, middle, and an end that is impressive in the short time frame.

Vincent (played by Mitchell Herrin) is a successful local puppeteer whose act everyone loves. Interviewed by TV show host David Browning he is asked if he intends to create any new material or puppets for his act to stop it getting stale. This troubles Vincent who hadn't thought his act could get boring, his stress about this in turn affecting his performances and leading him to fall out of favour. Vincent has a plan however to win back his fans.

Being a puppeteer it is odd you never get to see the puppets, or any of Vincent's performance, instead the camera is focused on him with an attempt to create the illusion of a watching crowd. This of course would have been done due to the low budget of this indie film so that is perfectly fine. About two thirds of the way into the film it does seem to loose its pacing a bit, it seems to jump forward in time with a bizarre mini montage. The last third is not as fresh as the rest even if it is the only horror themed part of Self Storage.

Chris Hough as Mr Browning is well acted, and I really liked the interesting dialogue Rue Morgue the Poetry Girl had, something quite surreal about her words that appealed. Herrin looks the part of Vincent as a strange loner, being a puppeteer he would not need to look presentable and again the acting is solid. Some strange direction meant it was a little bit confusing in places, intentional or not I don't know. There isn't actually any violence or gore in Self Storage, some alluded to which was slightly disappointing that there was no pay off.

Not a bad film, certainly a lot in there for the 7 minutes running time, is just a shame that the low budget prevented the films scenes being a little bit more fleshed out and I felt that more on the puppet side of things would have been cool. Anyway check out the film below to see what you think, is quite captivating. Get Coned Productions are currently working on their next short horror titled 'Secret Family Recipe'.

SCORE:


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Koudelka (2000) - Horror Videogame Review (Playstation): Brain Bites Special!


Here is the inaugural Brain Bite special! There is so much stuff that I would like to review on my site that I have already played, read, watched or listened to and being the busy man I am don't have time to re-do. So Brain Bite Specials will be reviews with a difference. They will be reviews based on my shady recollection of events and will reflect the impressions I have stored in my brain of said product. Whew, with that lengthy introduction over onto the first Brain Bite...Koudelka on the Playstation.

Koudelka came about during the golden age of survival horror games where Resident Evil and Silent Hill were on their rise to power. For this game though something different was tried; to combine survival horror with traditional RPG mechanics.


A young woman arrives at Nemeton Monastery in Wales at the end of the 19th Century. After breaking in she finds a man who is fatally injured and proceeds to heal him using magical powers she has. They then encounter the caretakers of the Monastery; an old man and his wife who act benign but secretly poison the soup they offer to the pair. Memory is shady and I never actually completed the game but there are lots of ghosts, demons and creepy locations. Interestingly Koudelka takes place in the same universe as the fantastic Shadow Hearts games and has a character from that series show up (the Shadow Hearts games take place on an alternate Earth during the 20th Century where magic and monsters are common place things).

The game looks great featuring lots of FMV cutscenes and beautiful for the time static fixed angle rooms (think Resident Evil) and is an eerie game, unfortunately the RPG mechanics are what let the game down. You have control of 3 different characters; Koudelka herself who has access to magic, the guy she rescues at the games start who is armed with a gun, and a priest (if my memory serves me well) who can regain courage points in battle by drinking from his hip flask. Battles are random and take place on a grid. Unfortunately these battles are ridiculously tough, I always got badly beaten up even when I won meaning a lot of the time I was stressed as I explored the locations as healing items and save points are few and far between. Survival horror games while scary are also about the locations, the fun and fear you have exploring them. If your being plunged into a nightmare hard random battle every few minutes then exploring environments for items and story becomes a chore.


The experimentation with RPG elements failed basically. The random battles are as tough as nails and ruin the experience. While it is good to see they improved this loads with the Shadow Hearts games it is a shame that the inclusion here of these stopped me getting to see the whole game.

SCORE:

Check out the trailer below to get a taste of what the game looked like. Still think the non FMV bits look good.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Crawl Bitch Crawl (2013) - Horror Film News


First of all I must say that is a great title for a film, really stands out I think! Secondly; this is the first time ever I believe I have ever done a news post the same day as receiving the press release, go me.

Crawl Bitch Crawl (directed by Oklahoma Ward) has an interesting premise, it grabbed me. The film takes place in the future where a group of soldiers are tasked with escorting the last human female able to conceive to a safe location. During the journey they find themselves lost deep underground in a maze of tunnels. Pursued by a deadly creature the team have to press ever onwards, but the tunnels they are in keep getting smaller and smaller...

This indie film is due out later on in the year, always hit and miss with indie films, obviously due to the reduced budget, this could be great though, check out the trailer below:

Monday, 15 July 2013

Blood + Brains (2012) and other things on the Zombday Zombie Round-up Special

Blood + Brains is a short zombie comic story written by Jeffrey Burandt with art by Dean Haspiel published on Trip City. Very short but a fun little thing that I think was or is intended as part of a larger story. A woman is alone fighting zombies during zombie apocalypse, wishing for company to say any more would spoil the twist. Anyway click the link above to see the comic for yourself.

Clearing some space on my terrible mobile phone that to be honest is a bit of an undead ghoul itself with the many problems physical and internal it has. Thought I would share some pics on my blog:




Lastly, I have been playing the Uncharted series of videogames, they are adventure games that give big nods to both the Indiana Jones films, and Tomb Raider games. At least the first and second one had final sections involving lots of monstrous beings, the first one featuring vampire/zombie creatures, Uncharted: Among Thieves featuring both Yeti creatures and mutant tribesmen. Only part way into Uncharted: Drake's Deception but have encountered a nerve tingling section where I was being pursued by giant killer spiders. The games have great stories and some great ancient locations, really do recommend them.

Any improvements or anything you think I should do a post about then please feel free to contact me at:

therottingzombie@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Midsummer Nightmares (2011) - Horror Film Review


Midsummer Nightmares is an independent horror Concept Media (the people behind the not bad The Sleeping Soul). It is a teen slasher film that tries its best to emulate the stale genre.

Audrey and her friends have planned a summertime Halloween party; a tradition they do every year. Unfortunatly for her there is a killer on the loose who has chosen the party as the place to murder everyone it wants to. Most the film is the run up to the party with various friends talking about nothing in particular, the last fifteen minutes take place at the party itself. Not a lot to it but then there never is with teen slashers.

There is a heck of a lot of talking in Midsummer Nightmares, in fact for the first forty five minutes there is nothing but awkward, stilted conversations between characters that sound extremely unnatural. There are also a few murder scenes but each one doesn't last more than a minute or so. The sequence at the party features a huge body count but is quite silly really. The characters are nearly all unlikeable, squabbling and fighting amongst themselves, none of them seem able to act either which I guess is more forgivable for an independent film, a lot of over acting but the bad script also must take some of the blame.


Alfred Hitchcock once said that having characters in danger but not knowing it created a lot of suspense for the viewer watching but here that doesn't work. The killer is so disjointed from the rest of the film that no one ever has an idea that people are being killed. Audrey gets a phone call from a friend who is in the process of being hunted down and killed but apart from a couple of arguments with her friends over if the girl was actually pretending or really in danger she doesn't seem to care enough to actually check up on her. The horror seems to take a side line to the boring friends party planning.

Wearing all black and wearing a white mask the psycho still manages to not be scary at all, not once did I feel even a little bit of horror or fear. It doesn't help that everyone is murdered so quickly, one ridiculous scene had the killer almost springing from victim to victim as they entered a room one by one and got picked off. The reveal at the conclusion is no big surprise, certainly not original at all though kudos to the actor in hamming it up.

The real problem with Midsummer Nightmares is that it just emulates, nothing new is brought to the genre, there are far better examples out there it just feels a bit pointless to be honest, even the death scenes are nothing special as everyone is taken out in pretty much the same way. It feels like a lot of the conversations people have are not due to bad editing but more that it had to be left in to have the film still be feature length, cut out all the flab and the film would be around forty minutes which would have actually helped it I feel as there are some bits in here that are not too bad.


The camera work is nice, it all looks crisp and clean with some nice locations used and the opening credits are quite fantastic, loved watching the character introductions. The special effects also really are not that bad, certainly seen far, far worse on films with much larger budgets. A lot of work has obviously gone into this film the best was done with what was had.

Overall it is sadly hard to recommend Midsummer Nightmares, it does show promise in places but does nothing that really demanded my attention. Wish all the best for the sequel that I believe is currently in the works.

SCORE:

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Zomblogalypse - Zombie Horror Film News


Wow, a momentous day as I have reached the end of my outstanding news posts. All that's left now is a massive list of films, books and games to review.

Apparently Zomblogalypse is a cult British comedy web series, I have never heard of it before to my detriment I'm sure. It was about 3 young survivors of a zombie apocalypse in York who blogged about their experience to relieve the boredom. The episodic format has been broken down and a feature length story created around the 3 characters played by Hannah Bungard, Tony Hipwell and Miles Watts. Such greats as Tom Savini (special effects genius), Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn) and Marc Price (Colin) are counted among the shows fans.

Back in April crowd funding was being used to get the funds to go into pre-production of the feature film, as I am so behind with this news I do not know how that is progressing...however I have just watched the first episode.

Part video blog and part handheld camera shenanigans it wasn't bad, I have it told that it does improve and you would expect it to do so as shows usually improve with time. Lots of apathy and stupidity seems to be the comedy element. The whole show has been running since 2009 and has 4 seasons, each episode roughly ten minutes long and can be seen on YouTube or at the Zomblogalypse site. Anyway wish them luck with getting the film made.

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Returned/They Came Back/Les Revenants (2004) - Zombie Horror Film Review


Originally released in France in 2004 titled 'Les Revenants' and previously known in English as 'They Came Back' (a superior title that instills more dread in my opinion). Then an apparently successful Channel 4 series based on the film called 'The Returned' was created, so it isn't hard to see why the DVD release of the original film has had its English title changed to The Returned. Now I have never heard of the channel 4 show but may be forced to see it now I have seen this bizarre film.

A worldwide event occurs in which seemingly everyone who died in the last 10 years mysteriously comes back to life, arriving back in droves, no injuries, no decomposition and wearing fresh clothes. The Returned takes place in a small French Town where 13,000 have returned. 60% are 60 years or older, 40% are 40 or over while the remaining 10% are the rest. There is no explanation for the dead peoples return and they seemingly have no memory of where they have been. The local government arrange a centre for them to be processed so that they can reintegrate into society. The dead however are changed, behaving strangely as if they are not the people they once were and instead are just imitating and pretending. At night the recently dead meet up for mysterious meetings. Just why have they returned, and for what purpose sinister or otherwise?


This is an arty film that leaves far more questions than it answers. If your expecting a nice resolution then you will be disappointed, I can tell you now if your asking yourself 'Why have they returned?' or 'What on Earth is happening at all in this film?' then you be left wanting. As The Returned progresses the questions I had just increased, the artiness ramps up leaving a confusing end that makes little sense.

I would class the recently dead in the film as zombies but be warned there is no gore or even violence here. The opening sequence showing the dead returning is fantastic and sets up the film well, the people, mostly old slowly walk down empty streets as the normal people look on at them in shock. The dead talk and can do things but they are mysterious and exist in a dream like state. They have memories of their lives before they died but seem caught up in these memories and are unable to adapt to their new lives. It is suggested the dead peoples trance like zombie state is due to them being unable to process the transition of living again yet the weird night time gatherings hint that maybe they are more aware than they give on.


The plot mostly concerns three different groups of people. You have the old Mayor of the town whose wife has returned and is creeping him out. You have a couple who get reunited with their young boy, and you have a wife reunited with her dead husband (with scenes of necrophilia). The towns people seem more shocked than anything, none of the hatred and anger I was expecting but this goes with the general melancholy tone of The Returned.

Like the dead themselves the film has a dreamlike quality to it, there is no joy or fun to be had here, it is all bleak and bittersweet. Having your dead loved ones return to you but in such an altered state would be heartbreaking. Saying that the dead I found to be quite irritating and very evasive at answering any burning questions, hard to feel sympathy for them, or for the local government who seem intent on forgiving the slow witted returnees faults. It has the feel of a documentary at times as it frequently goes back to Town meetings as people discuss what they have learned about the returned.


The film is in French with English subtitles but there isn't that much dialogue anyway, plenty of long shots of people walking around with sombre music playing. The Returned is out on DVD on 22nd July for £12.99. If your a fan of the show then you must see how it all started. If you go in with patience and knowledge that it isn't some schlocky gore fest then there is enjoyment to be had here.

SCORE:

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Zombies Hate Aliens! (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)


Maybe it's due to the exclamation mark in the title, or maybe it is due to it being a X-Box Indie game but I wasn't prepared to give this game much of a chance.

It isn't actually too bad, at least it is programmed well enough. You play as a group of zombies recruited to fight a war against aliens, chosen as your the only zombies with still attached trigger fingers. The aliens used to be your allies but have launched an attack on the Brain Bank (where all the brains of the killed humans are stored I guess). Your group of zombies control a cannon that can fire a variety of things at the flying saucers.


Zombies Hate Aliens! is bright and colourful and has a fun vibe to it and good presentation but it's when you get into the game that things go a bit south. The zombies you control are all silhouettes, the flying saucers have no animation to them, when shot with your ammo (in the demo I had access to rocks and fireworks) they just vanish, no animation to them, no sound effects, they just go. Ammo is limited and has to be purchased using cash gotten from destroying the suicide saucers that just seem to be crashing into the Brain Bank when they reach it.

I got bored with this game very quickly, there just is not enough variation and no amount of bright colours and jaunty mission briefings can change that.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Zombie Death Car (2011) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)


Well at least this game does something different. Unlike a lot of the zombie X-Box indie games this one has you driving a car rather than controlling a guy with a gun.

Your mission is to stop the zombies eating the red square. Not quite sure how they would eat a red square but there you go. You control a police car in a square arena that has a red square in the centre. Zombies appear at the sides of the square and run or walk towards the centre. If they get there they disappear. Too many reach the centre and it's game over.


I had fun to begin with, the generic music recalls that of old Amiga games, the car has a good enough engine sound and hitting zombies gives a satisfying sense of impact. At first the zombies were few and far between. It was very easy to knock them over, this only lasted a few minutes though. After around 2 minutes lots and lots of zombie spawned in and I was quickly overwhelmed.

The problem with the game is that your car doesn't react well to hitting zombies. Most times after impact my car would spin around 180 degrees making it irritating to get back in control. Likewise hitting the boundary of the square caused my car to go mental, trying to flip over but unable to do so. The graphics are really bare bones and have no character to them.


Zombie Death Car tries something different but it fails as it is just too bland and generic. Another one that I really cannot recommend.

SCORE:

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Darkness II (2012) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


I only played through The Darkness the once and that was many years ago. I remember it had a cool realistic  look to it much like the F.E.A.R games and Condemned did. This time around the realistic look is gone replaced with cel-shading which I can understand seeing as the game is based on a comic book.

The Darkness II takes place around 2 years after the events of the first game. In that time Jackie Estacado the owner of an ancient evil called amazingly enough 'The Darkness' has become don of the Franchetti crime family whilst keeping his power locked away within him. An attempted assassination attempt on Jackie at a restaurant forces him to release the darkness to save his own life. A powerful secret society calling themselves The Brotherhood led by a mutilated man named Victor want The Darkness for themselves and pursue Jackie everywhere he goes. He is further incited to defeat them when The Darkness reveals it has his dead girlfriends soul trapped in Hell and if Jackie looses the power of The Darkness he will loose her (she was killed in the first game). Periodically Jackie wakes up in an insane asylum where the Doctors suggest to him that he is hallucinating the events of the game and that he is just delusional that gives an interesting angle to things.


I will start by stating The Darkness II is extremely bloody, you get access to a variety of gruesome finishing moves that see your tentacles ripping apart enemies. They get their heads pulled off, sliced in half, ripped into pieces and even have their eyes gouged out all with fountains of blood. Jackie himself is subjected to various horror throughout including taking a shotgun shell to the face, run over my a train, and even imprisoned inside an Iron Maiden, so not a fun time for him. I guess the cel-shaded look means there can be more violence but I have never been a fan of that graphical style and did miss the realistic look.

Gone is the hub level and various mini quests and instead you have a linear progression that is usually accessed from your mansion. In the mansion you are free to explore but you can't run in this level and so is painfully slow to get anywhere, I tended to just go straight to the next mission. The game does look fantastic but the locations are just not that interesting. A secret brothel, graveyard, abandoned amusement park; all look great but are just kinda boring truth be told. The most exciting section of the game saw you riding a ghost train for an easy shooting gallery though the whole game feels like a shooting gallery being as it is very linear. Enemies run towards you shooting or using their anti darkness tools (a whip that can take weapons out your hand, a spiked shield, light guns and light grenades etc) and are all quite easily dispatched.


Jackie has the use of both guns and the darkness powers that can be levelled up by eating the hearts of dead enemies. darkness powers exist as two tentacles and can be used mainly to attack enemies and to grab objects in the environment. Lights are not your friend and need to be destroyed for your powers to work. In The Darkness destroying these lights was a large part of the game, here they are not that plentiful so you loose a lot of the element of creating the ideal playground to kill your enemies. Flames and sunlight shining through boarded windows create some variation but on the whole it can be frustrating to get caught in light. The cel-shaded nature makes it hard to tell where lights are shining, all too often I found myself getting burned up by light purely by accident. The light grenades the enemies throw are also super annoying. They wouldn't be so bad but the game also does that ridiculous thing that if your dying the screen starts to turn red so you can't see anything (I have never understood this; if your nearly dead the last thing you want is for the screen to become obscured, it can only double your chances of dying to do that).

The plot is quite bare bones even if the acting is not that bad a quality, it just seemed too simple, sure you got a little motivation for revenge against the Brotherhood but nothing like in the first game. The very best part of the game is the narration done for each of the 29 hidden relics you can find. The character Johnny has a fantastic voice actor, these little stories about the relics are narrated by him, they are inventive, interesting and provide back story that is missing from the game.


Another cool feature is a separate game mode called Vendetta's. In this you play as one of four characters; an Asian man with a darkness infused samurai sword, a woman with a darkness infused sawn off shotgun, a Voodoo guy with a magical staff, and an obnoxious Scots man armed with an awesome throwing axe that returns to your hand at the press of a button. I loved the Vendetta missions, they even use some new locations not seen in the main story. But, and quite a big one at that...you can only play a few of the levels in single player, a whole heap of them are locked unless you do it in multiplayer which is again frustrating for me as I am being punished for not being able to do that.

The Darkness II was as good as I thought it would be. Is nothing special but can be empowering at times. The cel-shaded graphics are not to my liking though voice acting is good. Can't see myself playing this again for a long, long time. A final note; if your not a guaranteed hit then please don't end your game on a cliffhanger, just a bit embarrassing assuming you will be around to make a sequel.

SCORE:

Deep Shock (2014) - Horror Film News


Davide Melini (director of The Puzzle and The Sweet Hand of the White Rose short horrors) is currently working on a new film titled Deep Shock. Davide wants his film to be a homage to the Italian giallo genre created by Mario Bava that is a crime mystery usually revolving around a mysterious black gloved killer using elements of horror and eroticism. I have read lots about the giallo genre thanks to British horror magazine The Dark Side but never actually seen any.

The plot as described by Melini is of a girl called Sarah who is unable to get over the deaths of her Grandad and sister. As a result of her grief she embarks on a journey of apparitions and murder apparently caused by her mind.

The short film began pre-production back in November last year and is hoped to be finished for 2014 with a trailer due out any month now. Produced by Davide Melini and Fabel Aguilera. I really enjoyed The Puzzle so do hope this turns out to be another great short film and maybe a perfect introduction to the giallo genre.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Anger of the Dead (2013) - Zombie Horror Film News


Another short blog post for today. In the time between this and my earlier post about Bombshell Bloodbath I have gotten sun burnt on my yearly excursion into the outside world. Don't know much about this film, maybe I should just skip doing news posts!

Anger of the Dead is a short zombie horror film by Francesco Picone that is due out any time now. Apparently it takes place between now and a post apocalyptic future where the undead roam the world, described as a horror drama.

Included below is the trailer for the film, and you can check out the Facebook page here. Another well made trailer it has to be said, there can never be enough zombie films.

Bombshell Bloodbath (2013) - Zombie Horror Film News


A quick post as I don't know much about this film. Bombshell Bloodbath is an Italian style zombie splatter feature directed by Brett Mullen. Love the title, and has zombies in it so my interest was caught.

A daughter of a scientist becomes exposed to experimental treatments designed to re-animate her dead mother. As a result the girl slowly turns into a zombie. The plot sounds kinda similar to the excellent Return of the Living Dead 3 and the Facebook page has plenty of photos of great looking zombies.

If this can mirror the feel of the classic zombie films of the 80's then it is sure to be a winner, I (as the blog title suggests) love zombie films so I am very interested to see how this turns out! Bombshell Bloodbath premieres later on this year.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Butcher of Banner Cross Issue 1 by Craig Daley (2013) - Horror Comic Review


Craig Daley's surreal murder mystery series never fails to be entertaining, the level of research that goes into them, along with truly surreal twists fuse together to create something very original in feel, and they are always set in Sheffield. The Butcher of Banner Cross is the first in the series to have the art done by someone else; Chatri Ahpornsiri in this case.

A woman on her way back from a pub after a night out is attacked and killed, her body mutilated; chopped into pieces, organs removed and the body neatly arranged in a matter of seconds. Baffled police call in a paranormal investigator known as Punchline. Working with a couple of dubious Detectives Punchline analyses the crime scene to try and find just who or what is responsible.

With a new artist comes a new art style. The usual primary colours and bizzaro look is replaced by pen and ink, all black and white that does suit the morbid tone well and it is good to see none of the background details is lost. Often Daley hides clues in the background so it is great to see this still occurring. I did get a bit confused a few times with which character was which but on the whole the art is simple and clear even if it no longer stands out from the crowd.


Not too much happens in this first issue, the character of Punchline is introduced, the crime scene of the second victim is analysed in extreme detail and discussions in great detail about ritualistic murders happen. Daley's comics always focus on the investigation so this is no big surprise and it is pleasing to see as usual a huge amount of research has been done.

I know there will be a good payoff, my theories are always wrong but it is fun to finally find out what has happened. The Butcher of Banner Cross can be purchased for download from a number of places including Amazon and DriveThruComics for the low price of £1.40. Excited for the next issues.

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Friday, 5 July 2013

This is the End (2013) - Comedy Horror Film Review


The trailer for this made me laugh a lot so I had to give the film a go. Am I the only one who finds it weird that this has come out pretty much the same time as the Simon Pegg film 'The Worlds End'? Titles just sound too similar to me. This is the End has a whole host of famous people playing exaggerated versions of themselves.

Jay Baruchel is in L.A to visit old friend Seth Rogan who convinces him to go to a party at James Franco's new house. After heading out to buy some supplies Rogan and Baruchel experience cataclysmic events; earthquakes, fire, explosions, panic and people being beamed up into the sky. They rush back to the party just in time for a huge sink hole to open up and swallow most the guests. Thinking they may be facing the apocalypse the survivors; Baruchel, Rogan, Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson barricade themselves in Franco's mansion and wait for rescue. As the days go on with no rescue the group start to realise that it may in fact be the real end of the world.


I was slightly worried that all the films best bits had been shown in the very funny trailer, but no, this film is consistently funny and laugh out loud funny at that. Around 50% of the film is apparently ad libbed which leads to some utterly hilarious lines. Most the humour comes from the dialogue which is liquid gold for nearly the entire running time. There is some low brow humour that is not really my thing but for the most part it works and has some fantastically placed dark humour as well as well as sight gags (using tape to tape up cracks that have appeared in the walls of the house for instance).

There are a hell of a lot of cameos which unfortunately were lost for the most part on me as I only knew a handful of the actors due to not watching the right sort of films. For example Rhianna was in the film and I hate to admit I had no idea what she looked like, that shows the level of celebrity knowledge I have. Special mention has to go to Michael Cera who is portrayed as a coked up idiot, he was fantastic, so funny. There were quite a few people I recognised from other films,  and of course Emma Watson (from the Harry Potter series) who had quite a funny role.


For the most part the film take place in Franco's house and details the interactions between the core leads who are hilarious and each have a shed load of awesome one liners without coming across as trying to upstage each other. The group squabble over supplies, theories about what is happening (such as a zombie apocalypse or biblical Armageddon) and have plenty of talk about previous films they have done with there even being a sequel to Pineapple Express acted out and filmed by the bored group.

Being a film about the end of the world brings with it some horror elements. The characters become so likable that I did come to be worried for them, I couldn't see how a good ending could be arrived at and so despite all the comedy there was a tinge of sadness to things. Though a lot of the film is set in the one house special effects are used to great effect when ever the outside is shown to display the raging hell hole the world has become. Some later scenes have genuine horror to them with nods to a variety of horror films. There are some quite bloody parts also, one great early scene had a severed head get into the house, the group all screaming and kicking it at each other in terror, so funny to watch. Every time you think things can't possibly get worse for the poor characters they somehow do, it's amazing how it just keeps ramping up and up right until the end. There is real evil outside the house, discovering what exactly is going on in the outside world is part of the hook for the films plot.


I don't know how to review comedy films! This is a terrible review and for that I am sorry. This is the End is the funniest film I have seen this year, it is frequently hilarious and while there is not a particular stand out comedy moment it gave me a lot of enjoyment even if it did start to drag ever so slightly towards the end. The acting is mostly of a high standard, especially Franco who I did not rate as a good actor previously, and I do like Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill anyway. When I left the cinema my jaw was hurting from laughing so much, that is my endorsement. I imagine it is one of those films that just gets better with repeated viewings. For all my talk of comedy it does do enough to warrant being labelled as a horror

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