Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lord of Tears - Horror Film News

Lord of Tears was in my Top 10 films of 2013, it was expertly made and stayed with me long after the end credits rolled. The music was also really good, for some weeks after the soundtrack was the background music to any work I did on my blog. Even though the film is now out there is some new news for it.

The film is in the official selection for the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival later this year. Lord of Tears has also been praised by both Stephen Susco (writer of the American Grudge remakes), author Ian Rankin, and William Malone (director of the House on Haunted Hill remake; a guilty pleasure of mine). As well as all this there is a new trailer for Lord of Tears, as well as a fun video of the Owlman creeping out random people on Chat Roulette.

New Trailer:



Owlman on Chat Roulette:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Bombshell Bloodbath (2014) - Zombie Horror Film News

Back last year I spoke of Italian zombie film Bombshell Bloodbath. There is now a trailer out for the film. It looks quite good and the influences of such Italian horror film legends such as Lucio Fulci are apparent, what was shown reminded me heavily of Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi which is a great thing. The zombie effects look decent and seems to be some quite gory sequences in this film. Anyway check out the trailer below...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Autumn: Disintegration (2011) by David Moody - Zombie Horror Book Review


Autumn: Disintegration is the fourth book in David Moody's series of zombie novels. Originally written back in 2006 it never saw the light of day until 2011. With an already solid series could this one surpass the high bench mark? Mild spoilers ahead

Disintegration focuses on a whole new bunch of survivors of the virus which wiped out 99% of the worlds population. In contrast to before though these survivors are not content to lay around wallowing in self pity but instead are a surly lot. This bunch include a young offender, an alcoholic, a shirker, a crazy woman (who cradles a doll thinking it is her dead child) and more. Rather than try to hide from the zombie horde these go about their days making as much noise as they please, with frequent attacks on the ghouls. Nearby a different group of survivors hide, these see keeping silent the best way to survive, pretty soon the two disparate groups are brought together and must find a way to make their differing ideologies work.

This is by far the best book in the series, something I seem to say with each new book, yet it is true. Moody's writing seems leaps and bounds ahead of his earlier work, the new characters seem to have more personality and distinction between them, the descriptions of the dead far better detailed. With a focus on aggression the new group create some of the most violent scenes yet seen, there is an immense amount of zombie fighting going on here all told in vivid details. Often the group go out of there way to attack the undead, and some even seem to relish in it.

The two different groups are handled well and their differing beliefs are exemplified in the personification of these ideals. The first group see the zombies as an enemy to fight and defeat, Webb being the key member for this. He hates the undead, he enjoys working out his aggression on them seeing them as not even human anymore. The intelligence and strength advantage puts these above their enemy. The group who believe keeping silent and out of sight is the way to go is demonstrated in Martin. This second group fear the undead having hidden away since the start of the apocalypse, they would rather slowly starve to death than risk getting the attention of the innumerable corpse army. It is telling that two key events both originate from these two key characters later in the book.

There are some references to past books, and I found these to be cleverly done with it not being at first apparent, the book is well paced and features a fantastic ending which was so exciting to read that I could really picture it all in my head like it was actually happening. Also happens to feature my favourite line of the entire series to date:
"There's something about the end of the world, he thought, that makes everyone dress like complete f**king retards."
Actually made me laugh out loud in context. Some niggles come from the amount of noise that everyone does make. In the previous books it was found that noise, however small was enough to draw thousands upon thousands of zombies, the group at first living in a condemned council block of flats make all the noise they want, shouting, playing loud music, and yet they never seem to have a problem getting out and about when they wish, I guess this is down to the cadavers rapidly disintegrating bodies making them no problem to mow down. As always the zombies do not act traditional at all which is as ever a nice touch.

Where the previous books showed what would happen to normal folk in a zombie apocalypse Disintegration shows what people on the lower side of the human spectrum would do. People who appear to have low intelligence, who bicker and fight constantly, but ones who are brave and not afraid to act. It all makes for a far more interesting story, and the best so far in the Autumn series.

SCORE:

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Devil's Due (2014) - Horror Film Review


I did not have much interest in going to see Devil's Due, I have a stinking cold and a killer headache but due to the limited showings I felt tonight would be the last chance I would get to see it before it was gone. At first the signs seemed hopeful, the cinema was bizarrely packed full of people. As soon as it started my heart sank...another blasted found footage film! I don't know how I managed to miss that fact when I saw the trailer.

Most the film is shown from the perspective of Zach McCall (Zach Gilford) who has filmed himself his whole life (much like Louis Cole of YouTube fame without the fame I guess). Starting off with his marriage to Samantha (Allison Miller) and then chronicling his honeymoon where the newly weds are drugged and Samantha has a strange ritual performed on her. Soon after arriving back to America Samantha finds out she is pregnant which over joys Zach. As the months progress Samantha starts to act more and more out of character, and Zach becomes convinced a strange group are spying on him and his wife...


First off all the fact Zach films his whole life is just plain weird, taking the camera into Dr's appointments, to church, and not even putting it down when alarming stuff with his wife happens. On top of this is the fact that he never bothers checking what he has filmed. The whole Satanic ritual his wife is put through on their last night of the honeymoon is there on camera but he just never feels the urge until far too late into the film to bother seeing just what happened the night they both lost their memories.

To supplement this lots of security camera footage and hidden cameras are used to give plot for when Zach is not there to film. There are quite a few shots obviously not even filmed by anyone at all, yet rather than go for a steady cam the view jiggles up and down like a vibrating hamster on crack (an exaggeration). There is no harm in including traditional camera shots if you must do so.


Now what is there to distinguish this film from the countless other found footage films? It was only last week I saw the latest Paranormal Activity film so this had to do something special to not send me to sleep. Instead for the first hour it does even less than bare bones. It is a real snooze fest with the only exciting scenes happening already spoiled in the trailer so I knew they were coming. There was a fun little violent scene out in woodlands that I enjoyed though. It is only in the last twenty minutes when the pace finally picks up and crazy spooky stuff starts to happen. I did enjoy the last part of the film, but after over an hour of tedium it was far too little too late.

A boring take on the rise of the Antichrist that spent far too much time leading up to anything worth watching. The plot is riddled with holes and the characters are just not interesting with no one to care about. If you can stomach the build up then the final part is kinda fun and some of the special effects are quite cool throughout.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Witchfinder (2013) - Short Horror Film Review


January seems to be the month for short films, the third one I have seen for review in just over a week. Witchfinder (written and directed by Colin Clarke) is a period piece that takes place during the American Witch hunts. While I have never seen the British horror classic Witchfinder General that is what immediately sprung to mind during the film.

William Thatcher Blake (Dave Juehring) is a witchfinder and the film starts with him interrupting a demonic ritual and capturing a suspected witch and her customer. Just before him and his men burn the witch at the stake she puts a curse onto Blake. Thinking nothing of it Blake carries out his duty and returns home to his family. In the middle of the night a strange noise awakens him and the terror begins...


I was quite impressed with this short 18 minute film, it appears to have a budget with some great special effects used. Period pieces can live or die on their believability, Witchfinder succeeds with locations and costumes that form a cohesive whole. There is a 3 act structure here, the first act being the arrest of the witch, it starts the film well. The witch character had some slight over acting to her I felt, but she redeems herself later on anyway. The second act takes place out in the woods and has some decent special effects such as a nasty use of a spiked mask that made me wince. The final act takes place at Blake's family home. I felt this act to be slightly rushed and I did not think much of the ending yet the special effects in this sequence are the best of the whole piece, I almost got goosebumps.

Throughout Juehring is a strong lead, his costume makes him stand out and his acting is of a good standard, it would be great to see more of this character. The direction and lighting is used to great effect, especially the switch from the woods in night time to the grey of the woods in day which I found to be quite striking.


Overall my main complaint is that there just was not enough here, that is something I don't usually say about short films but in this instance I really found myself itching for more when the end credits rolled.

SCORE:

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Rise of Valhalla - Zombie Horror Film News


Back in May last year I spoke of The Rise of Valhalla and included their first teaser trailer. Now I am pleased to bring you the second teaser trailer. The German made film takes place during World War II and involves the Nazi's summoning a legion of zombie Vikings who soon start to rampage out of control.

This new trailer features Nazi's fighting the zombie Vikings and seems like it has a comedic edge to it. For an independent film it seems to have some good special effects even if some of them are CGI (the muzzle flash is actually CGI due to firecap weapons being illegal in Germany I have been told by the films Director). The trailer ends nicely with the reveal that there are to be zombie Nazi soldiers also, never a bad thing to show up in horrors. Anyway check out the trailer at Vimeo.

The Rise of Valhalla by Daniel Konze is 70 minutes long and due out Summer 2015. I look forward to seeing it.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Secret Family Recipe (2013) - Short Horror Film Review


Secret Family Recipe is a short horror made by Get Coned Productions (also responsible for Self Storage), written and directed by Chris Durand. It is a far better made film than that one and has a better vein of black humour running through it. Minor spoilers ahead for those who can't see the twist from the title alone.

Anne (Lisa Arcaro) and Arthur (Chris Durand) seem like a typical American family. The film takes place on the day they are due to have a BBQ for their friends and neighbours. Their BBQ's are well known for the special type of meat used. It turns out quite soon into the piece that the meat is that of a family who have been kidnapped and are trussed up in the basement.

Immediately I was pleased with this film as it directly links itself to Self Storage by way of a radio news story. I love it when unrelated films get linked to each other (such as Eli Roth's Cabin Fever and 2001 Maniacs featuring an identical character). The husband and wife it has to be said are not the greatest actors in the world but as soon as it become apparent that this was not a film to be taken seriously the over acting became more acceptable. With low budget films such as this it is easier to be more forgiving with acting quality and least there is enthusiasm.

Partly a commentary on the American Government and the ills of capitalism it never becomes too preachy. The reason for the family's odd meat choice is down to increasing taxes and keeping the wife happy with expensive clothes and jewellery meaning it is just not affordable to buy regular meat. There is quite a lot of gore packed into the near 16 minute running time, some of the gore effects are quite effective such as a throat being slit, and implied threat (someone being beaten to death with a meat tenderiser just off camera) work well, the later especially due to the uncomfortable place they went to with that.

At first I found myself put off by the nasty family, yet by the end, especially with the later twist they came to be quite enjoyable and fun. Also loved how the surnames of people tie into the whole plot, made me smile. While the budget is not the highest (I swear a table in one scene was made out of cardboard) it is obvious the cast and crew had fun making this. Not a bad short, and a lot stuffed into the running time.

SCORE:

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Real Ghostbusters: Haunted Humans (1988) - Action Figures


I was jogging around E-Bay when I noticed something that gave me an almost lethal dose of nostalgia. I had some of the Haunted Human Ghostbuster toy range when I was a kid, so I leaped at the chance to pick up 4 of them for the cheap price of £8 (the Frankenstein one is actually from the Hollywood Monsters series). Apologies for the low quality camera work, hoping to pick up a decent camera some point this year.

The first figure is X-Cop Ghost (what a lame name). This is a Policeman who to my mind more resembles a female. She/He transforms into a skeletal monster. Actually thinking about the whole idea behind Haunted Humans; if these are normal humans whose bodies are taken over my ghosts then I would imagine in most cases this would lead to the hosts death.


Next up is Mail Fraud Ghost. Again not sure why this counts as a ghost when it is a physical being. Now I know for sure a friend of mine owned Mail Fraud Ghost when I was a child so it is good to see this back in meat space. Mail Fraud Ghost turns into a monster, complete with jaw chewing action by pushing on the legs.


Last in the Haunted Humans range I got was Hard Hat Horror Ghost, Now this one I actually owned as a kid so this has huge nostalgic value for me. This time the human transforms into a giant bat monster, pretty awesome.



Finally I got Frankenstein Monster based on Frankenstein's Monster appropriately enough. Rather than transform this one instead opens its mouth really wide if you lift up its arms.



There a few more in the Haunted Human range I would like to get hold of. From memory there was a Granny one I used to own, as well as an American Football player one that my friend had. Fun trip down memory lane!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) - Horror Film Review


I was not looking forward to seeing the latest Paranormal Activity film, each one is pretty much identical to the last milking what was once a novel and effective way to be scary into utter boredom. I think The Marked Ones is the 5th film in the series, I don't know, they all seem to blur into one, even the film makers seem to have lost count.

This time events are focused on a Hispanic boy named Jesse. He has borrowed/been given a camera and with his best friend Hector they are filming everything they do. The flat below the one he lives there is a strange woman who is rumoured to be a witch. Strange noises are often heard from the place, and after dangling his camera down a ventilation shaft he witnesses what appears to be some sort of ritual. Not long after this the woman is murdered, the two boys accidentally catching the killer on tape. Investigating her house they come across a weird notebook. Soon after this Jesse discovers he has some sort of force that is now shadowing him, protecting him. At first him and his friends think this is an awesome thing but Jesse starts to change becoming cold and withdrawn and evil...


I have to start by saying thank God that the film mixes things up from the usual 'ooh something weird is happening in the house, lets film it...night...day...night...day...night twist end'. There is more of a plot this time around and much of the film takes place in daylight, away from Jesse's flat, in fact most the film takes place outside his home so was a refreshing change. Also gone are the stupid time lapse montages, people being dragged around by invisible forces, and stupid sudden room explosions. A handheld camera works a lot better than the static cameras of the other films ever did.

Also new is the reintroduction of fear, I actually got some chills at some points, a good thing as I discovered while The Marked Ones is in no way a great film it is actually not boring.  Jump scares feature plenty, but these are so telegraphed that I can only imagine they were left in as a nod to the previous films. Talking of the past films there are plenty of references, from returning characters, to returning locations, all good but I was a bit confused due to the utter mess the over arching story is supposed to be; something about an army of witches raising an army of devil children? I don't know.


The characters this time around are far more willing to believe something bad is going on, lost is the chunk of film where characters are living in denial. Jesse is super irritating as is the mission of all Paranormal Activity bad guys. Special effects are pretty great it has to be said, there are elements lifted right out of Jacob's Ladder, there is a fantastic scene in which someone literally teleports into a room causing chaos, and even time travel is hinted at! This madness is certainly welcome but doesn't help make the film cohesive, feels like it was going off at a hundred different tangents.

After about half way though I started wondering just why the main character was still going around filming everything, it was a bit odd, especially during a sequence when the character heads to a place with two heavily armed gang members who are talking about murdering some people, seemingly fine to have all their actions recorded on film. The final part of the film is a real thrill ride, but at times it does just feel like a ride, complete with random scary figures bursting onto shot and then vanishing again as if you are in a Haunted House. Enjoyable but highly silly.


When the film ends it ends, as in it felt like mid sequence, abruptly. Everyone in the cinema kind of sat there in stunned silence, like me confused as to why it had suddenly finished. This silence was broken by me letting out a huge sigh, followed by several people muttering to themselves about how they had no idea what had just happened. A confusing mess, but by far the best ending yet for a Paranormal Activity film.

With a high body count, some decent scares, and that insane ending sequence I actually found The Marked Ones to be the best Paranormal Activity film in years. No idea where they will go from here, but for once I am happy to find out.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Ozombie - Action Figure News


I heard about this in September last year, as can be seen from the quality of the figure I was in no great hurry to blog about it. Sure it is hard to tell from just one image but it looks quite low quality.

The figure is Barack Obama but zombified. The creators Hero Builders have a whole range of bad looking Barack Obama comedy figures on their website that include another zombie one, and even a Joker one. Zombie news I guess but nothing to get excited about. If for some reason your desperate to get one of these then head to the Hero Builders website.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Order of the Ram (2013) - Short Horror Film Review


For my first film review of the year I chose the short indie film Order of the Ram by Crossroad Pictures Productions, a film written, directed, and produced by Scott Lyus. It is a 15 minute short that spins an interesting yarn.

Mary appears to be a shy loner who on her 21st birthday heads out to the local woods to do some photography. Whilst there she is kidnapped by a crazed cult led my a woman named Mother who intend to sacrifice her.

Order of the Ram is distinctly split into 3 parts, each one separated by a moment of blackness. The first act is the run up to the abduction, setting Mary (May Kaspar) up as a loner. The following two acts deal with what happens after her capture. I liked how the title only appears at the start of the second act, as if to say 'now the horror begins'. The whole film has a soft focus effect going on so there is usually at least some of the screen slightly blurred out that creates a slight dream like feeling.


Kaspar's character is quite plain and doesn't really make much of an impression but in the context of the plot I think this is on purpose. The key stand out character is cult leader Mother (played by Danni Scott-White) who both looks and sounds the part, conviction in her voice, and able to convey a whole range of emotions just from her facial expressions. Mesmerising, so am glad it was decided to focus on her rather than the other cultists who mostly stand around looking kinda daft in their cloaks and capes. All the props used look a bit low budget, like they got it all from a fancy dress shop. Nothing wrong with a value range cult, just saying.

Mostly Order of the Ram takes place in woodland, and in a unusual take on horror takes place in the middle of the day, it certainly impacts on the film being so bright, though again in a story based sense it is cohesive. For the most part it is characters talking, there is small amounts of violence but these are very brief. Reminded me a bit of The Wicker Man but with all the singing and large amounts of insanity cut out.

Though not at all scary it is nonetheless an interesting film, Scott-White makes this work, and the ambiguous ending was a nice touch.

SCORE:

Monday, 6 January 2014

Autumn: Purification by David Moody (2004) - Zombie Horror Book Review


Now after a New Year break I have returned to The Rotting Zombie for another year of horror filled goodness. For my first blog post of 2014 I have chosen to review David Moody's third book in his fantastic Autumn series. Needless to say there will be spoilers about previous books here, so really if you have yet to read an Autumn book then I would suggest avoiding this review.

Having reached the safety of a military bunker at the end of Autumn: The City the survivors of the plague that wiped out mankind have finally gotten a small amount of breathing space. The soldiers of the bunker though have orders to clear out the thousands of undead on the surface. During this assault the army get over run and the bunker becomes breached. With no option but to run the immune survivors race head long into the zombie covered world they thought they had left behind, and there they finally find reason to hope...

While story wise this is almost a retreading of The City (people needing to get from Point A to Point B) it is so much more exciting, especially as characters have been well established now so there is no introduction of a glut of new characters meaning the book gets off to a thrilling start (something that did affect The City slightly). The couple Michael and Emma give a reason to really care about their fates, while Cooper the ex soldier is as cool as ever here. It is true a whole host of new people show up later but of these there are some stand out ones (the two pilots in particular). Also two soldiers join the group, ones who are forced to wear their cumbersome bio suits due to not being immune. These two are wildly different and provide a real sense of hopelessness, they both know they are doomed; unable to eat or drink, knowing they have no future. A real hellish situation they are stuck in, and a unique aspect of this particular book.

The biggest problem I had with Purification was a small plot point. This is my second time reading it and I had totally forgotten that an explanation for the thing that wiped out most of humanity was given, an explanation that the more I think about the more it makes no sense. It bizarrely riles me up, though it is such an insignificant part of the book and isn't even confirmed as the real cause. Even the characters get on board and tell themselves (and me) that it is insignificant anyway and not worth dwelling on!

The zombies continue to evolve, slowly gaining more intelligence and awareness which has made me darn excited to see what happens next as the next few books in the series I have yet to ever read. There is lots of violence against them (even a human vs. zombie war at one point) and their massive numbers always create such a sense of hopelessness for the survivors.

As always I will sign off with the apology that I am no good at doing book reviews. Purification is the best book in the series yet but would not recommend reading it before the previous two.

SCORE: