Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Unlisted Owner (2013) - Horror Film Review


Unlisted Owner is a found footage made in Illinois, and one that very much falls into the old way of making these. This is the directorial debut of director Jed Brian, he also wrote, edited, produced and even acted in it as the primary camera holder. It was interesting to find out that this is the first film all the actors here have ever done apparently and that they are comprised of friends and family of Jed.

A family that have just moved into a house rumoured to have a dark past end up all dead. A group of friends on their way to a camping trip nearby decide to check out the place after hearing the news of the murders on the radio. These six friends include Jed (Brian) who has recently brought a new video camera, his girlfriend Andrea (Andrea Potts), Griffin (Griffin Groves) and his girlfriend Haidee (Haidee Corona), as well as the comedy duo of Gavin (Gavin Groves) and Tyler (Tyler Landers). Later that day the friends decide to head back to the house in order to get a look at the crime scene, a decision that may not be too wise...


A lot of decisions made here do make a lot of sense due to being a first for so many of the actors, and for the director himself. The obviously limited budget lends itself well to the found footage genre, though because of this there isn't really anything that you haven't seen before. You get the usual shaky cam, camera glitches (which seemed pointless here), jump scares and hokey reasons for filming everything. The acting also isn't the best, saying that though, I don't know if this was filmed in chronological order but I felt like the acting actually improved as Unlisted Owner went on. I guess it makes it more natural if you call each other by your real names, and it helps a huge amount that they apparently know each other in real life due to the group seeming cohesive together on screen.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Call of Duty: WWII (2017) - Thoughts on the Nazi Zombies mode


As always November saw the release of the latest instalment of Call of Duty, and as nearly always there was a zombie based game mode included with it. Nazi Zombies was designed to be scary, so at complete odds with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's bright and colourful Zombies mode.

I was immediately impressed in that before you can play the game proper you have to play a tutorial that takes place as a neat little single player mission. You play as one of four characters: Austrian engineer Marie Fischer (Katheryn Winnick - The Dark Tower), Scottish ex-art thief Drostan Hynd (David Tennant - Doctor Who, Jessica Jones), French Resistance fighter Olivia Durant (Elodie Yung - Gods of Egypt), and USA captain Jefferson Potts (Ving Rhames - Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead). The foursome have been tasked with heading to Fischer's hometown village of Mittelburg in Bavaria in order to retrieve lost artifacts stolen by the Nazis for experimentation, also for Fischer her brother Klaus was the one who alerted the allies to this as he had been forced to work with the Nazis, and so she hopes to rescue him. The train the group are riding into town on is attacked by a huge monster and so they get briefly separated before arriving at the village square where they discover the place over run by the living dead...


There are two maps that are included with the base game of WWII. The main one is titled The Final Reich, this takes place in Mittelburg and includes both the village streets as well as sewers, and a huge Nazi bunker. This does things slightly different to other Zombies modes. First of all like Exo Zombies in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare you have no boards to repair on windows, it felt less strange this time around and so I didn't mind this omission. The second change I noticed was that there is a time out stage in between rounds, you will have around 20 seconds with no zombies spawning which is nice for a little breather, though special enemy types will still be here during this time. The best thing about this new mode is the Easter egg quest. In all previous games this process of 'completing' a map was behind the scenes, the game gave you no indication of what you should be doing and in what order to get the ending cutscene. Here though this is brought right into the forefront with the next step in the quest always in the top left hand corner of the screen. I loved that there is more sign posting this time around, especially as this was about the first Zombies map I have ever completed (I.E: got the end cutscene). The steps have you doing various things such as flipping switches, killing set number of zombies by special points, constructing an electricity gun, and shooting huge batteries off a Nazi blimp flying over head.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Caller ID: Entity (2018) - Horror Film Review


Caller ID: Entity is the first feature length film from Eric Zimmerman who is best known for his iconic music videos such as Nine Inch Nails 'Down in it' and 'Head Like a Hole'. What I found interesting about this is that the idea for this was inspired by real life phone messages received from an anonymous woman. Apparently this led to the investigation into mind control experimentation and psychological torture, it's claimed everything in this movie is based on real messages and victim testimonials.

A group of students that includes Miles (James Duval - Donnie Darko, May), Noah (Nathan Bexton), and Dale sign up for an exclusive psychology course that will guarantee them a Masters degree upon completion. The professor in charge of this instructs each of the small group on the jobs they have to perform. It appears the course is designed to find ways to monitor the brain activities of people and create a way to control the actions of the subjects chosen. Due to the questionable ethics involved many of the students drop out but find themselves with increasing paranoia that they are being monitored by electronic signals. The ones who do stay discover themselves in situations where the test subjects they are monitoring end up dead. The professor tells them if they can track down an elusive woman who has threatened to go public on her discovery of the project than these problems can be made to go away.


From my jumbled plot synopsis you can probably tell this was quite a confusing film, I can't say that I particularly know what was going on in it. This is down to the way it is shot as much as anything. Zimmerman has stated that he made the film in a style that "reflects the fragmentation and paranoia of having your brain hacked". In that way he is successful as this is disjointed with scenes shot out of sequence and seemingly unrelated sub plots meeting up with each other. Scenes will transition from a character doing something to someone else monitoring that character on a TV screen. Some scenes are cut in half so that you may get the second part early on, then much later in the run time you get the first half, this keeps you on your toes to work out what is really going on. I was lost a lot of the time, but also I didn't see the point of the course the students were taking. By this I mean that almost immediately it appears the students are going crazy and hallucinating (such as Noah), going psychotic, or ending up dead and so it didn't seem sustainable.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Raw (2016) - Horror Film Review


It is the week of viewing films I have yet to see that have earned nominations in the 2017 Fright Meter Awards, today (well a few days back when I wrote this post) is the day of Raw: a French language horror that is up for Best Makeup. This is the second film I have seen this week that I recognise as a good film yet did not enjoy watching, though for different reasons than with Personal Shopper.

16 year old Justine (Garance Marillier) has gone to start vet school, it is the same place that her wild older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) attends. Justine has been a vegetarian her whole life but during a hazing ritual she is made to eat meat. This has a bizarre effect on her as she discovers a side to her that she never knew existed, and soon she finds herself hungry for meat of any kind...


I do not enjoy gross horror films, I also do not like cringe worthy moments in any sort of media, and Raw has plenty of those moments, so many that I lost count of the times I had to pause the film and look away grimacing. Film like this are the very reason I made the rule not to eat food of any kind while watching horror as this really put me off wanting any dinner today. I'm giving this movie a low score and that is no slight to it, it is just it made me feel really queasy watching it which is not a nice feeling, it is not something made for me to watch. First of all the whole setting of the vet school was horrifying to me in that the newbies are put through awful ordeals such as having buckets of blood thrown over them, paint thrown over them, made to crawl around on all fours, and mattresses thrown out their windows. This is all extroverted fun I am sure but I would just want to curl up in a cupboard and hide for the entire week.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Dead Space 3: Awakened (2013) - Horror Video Game DLC Review (Playstation 3)


The whole reason I decided to finally tackle Dead Space 3 after so many years was due to a friend going on about how good the DLC was for it. Awakened contains within it the true ending of the Dead Space franchise, I guess originally it was meant to lead the way to a fourth installment. While I enjoyed my time with this playable epilogue I was a bit disappointed to find out how short it was, and how it was happy to recycle locations from the main game. There will be spoilers for Dead Space 3, unavoidable when talking about this.

Isaac Clarke and John Carver somehow survived the events that resulted in the ice planet Tau Volantis seemingly falling apart. The two find themselves on a race to find a spaceship to escape from the surface, but with the Unitologist army having the same idea transport is becoming scarce. To make matters worse destroying the necromoon didn't end the necromorph threat, as before it passed it was able to make contact with other necromoons all over the universe that now have their sights set on Earth...


It was only once I started this DLC that I realised the insanity elements of Dead Space 1 and 2 had been nowhere to be found in Dead Space 3. Awakened more than makes up for this though as from start to finish it is full to bursting with Isaac hallucinating. I loved how this started with the threat of the monsters seemingly over, it led to a great moment when the two characters realise the nightmare is not yet over. I was reminded of Alan Wake's DLC in that all the areas you go to are taken from the main game, but with some amendments to them. The ice planet section seemed partly to have some new areas, but once you get into space you head straight to a ship that you explored already in one of the optional missions of the main game. It was nicely populated with a crazed cult though, another part of the original game I had forgotten about.

A lot of the enemies you face here appear as hallucinations that are still very much a threat but has you wondering just what is real and what is fake. It brought to mind the fantastic first mission of on-rails shooter Dead Space: Extraction where you discover at the end of the level that you had been killing defenceless humans and not monsters as they had appeared. These enemies include baby necromorphs last seen in Dead Space 2, so that was a nice bonus. Here you get a series of boss battles against the leader of an even more radical splinter group of the Unitologists that appeared once the necromoon died. He appears time and time again to hound you, as well as appears in flashbacks detailing the sadism that tore the surviving soldiers apart. You also get to fight Carver which was nice (as I think his character sucks), again in a battle that takes place as a hallucination. To be fair I liked Carver a lot more here, or rather the game actually treated him as an actual character rather than a bland second player placeholder. There was some great dialogue, my favourite being (paraphrasing) "Isaac when people hear voices in their head they are going crazy. You are going f*cking crazy, now go get that machine part so we can get out of here before it's too late".


Awakened only lasts for around 90 minutes, I had hoped for two or three hours at least so wasn't impressed with that. However while it is mainly business as usual you do get to do some stuff that felt different, such as fighting enemies in the midst of a huge blizzard, and an impressive looking finale that had you powering up a huge reactor that was spewing out deadly radiation everywhere. While the main game ended on a cliffhanger here there is even more of one, setting up events for a game that will never come, instead it acts as a bleak finish to a dark and moody series that would be original if it were not nearly identical to the Mass Effect Reaper storyline (literally nearly identical!).

I did like playing this DLC, however the short length and the recycled areas means that I can't rate it too highly. I liked that your upgrades and weapons carried over from the main game, though this did mean it was very easy to do. Thank the gods though that this DLC is a huge improvement over Dead Space 2: Severed, as that was absolute tosh.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Personal Shopper (2016) - Horror Film Review


Another day and another watch of a film eligible for an award in the 2017 Fright Meter Awards. Personal Shopper is up for Best Screenplay while Kristen Stewart (the Twilight series) is up for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Sometimes a film doesn't have to be bad for me to give it a middling score, that is the case with this film that I couldn't get on board with due to my own stupidity. My best friend once said I never pay attention when watching films and that is the case on at least two pretty big occasions here.

Stewart starts as Maureen who is still in mourning for her twin brother Lewis who died three months previously. Both the siblings were spirit mediums and had made a pact that whoever died first would try and contact the other in order to prove the existence of the afterlife. Due to this Maureen lives out a half life in Paris (where Lewis died), she has a job as a personal shopper to a celebrity: Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten) to fill the time while she waits for conclusive proof. Then one day she starts getting a series of bizarre texts from an unknown number which may or may not be related...


So some truth bombs...first off Lewis has a widow in the form of Lara (Sigrid Bouaziz). Until fifteen minutes were left before the end of the movie I thought Lara and Kyra were the same character, this led up to a very confusing moment. Due to thinking this my view of characters relationships was pretty incorrect which did impact on my enjoyment. Secondly there is a key scene in this film that I possibly wasn't paying attention to, it seemed to be like the plot was moving on up to this dramatic showdown, but when this showdown occurred it was farcical and rushed leaving me very muddled. The whole introduction of the creepy mysterious texter gave Personal Shopper much more of a thriller edge to it, it was clever in that Maureen had been tricked into doing certain actions that would reflect badly on her. I was well on board to see this plot thread resolved but even putting aside my denseness it was very unsatisfying with Maureen pretty much explaining the resolution to a friend after the fact.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Dead Space 3 (2013) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 3)


For a while I was deeply into the Dead Space series of games, the first in the series back in 2008 was a fantastic survival horror that was a master class in design and suspense. When Dead Space 2 dropped in 2011 we got another fantastic entry in the series, even if the later half was a disappointing devolution into high action, something the game had not been particularly well known for. With the DLC chapter Severed we got our first taste of what an all action Dead Space may feel like, so when a demo was released for Dead Space 3 in 2012 and it was very action orientated, coupled with poor early reviews I 'severed' my ties with the series. I thought now it was finally time to return and try out the final entry to see if it really was as bad as was made out.

Engineer Isaac Clarke has been hiding out in an apartment on a city on the moon since the events of Dead Space 2. He just wants to be left alone and is a broken man, so is none too happy when Captain Robert Norton and Sergeant John Carver of EarthGov arrive to request his help. It turns out a group of scientists led by Ellie (Isaac's ex girlfriend) have gone missing while exploring the possible location of the original marker (too complicated to go into, basically 'markers' are devices that turns people into monsters). They want Isaac to go with them on a rescue mission as he has prior knowledge of how to destroy the things, however they are interrupted by the outbreak of war. A Unitologist (a marker worshipping religious group) army led by Jacob Danik have attacked EarthGov and activated a nearby marker unleashing hell onto the city, all in an attempt to kill Isaac who is seen as an enemy of the religion. Isaac and his group escape and head to the planet Tau Volantis where Ellie's signal was last heard...


The story is deep in that if you haven't experienced the previous entries you will be extremely lost, hell, I've played those games loads of times and I was still mightily confused at points. Usually time makes games worse than they were due to the ageing process, however here I think is a rare example of a game that has actually improved, if only due to some of the more irritating design choices getting removed. Dead Space 3 was very much a product of its time. It came out when people making video games started to become convinced no one wanted to play survival horror anymore, they believed everyone wanted games that were high in action and fast paced. Due to this the weird decision to include human enemies was made with a poor facade of cover based shooting slotted in, obviously trying to appeal to the Gears of War crowd. That was the first nail in the coffin for me not buying this game when it was first released. The human enemies though only appear in around 15% of the game and controversially I kind of like them due to the dialogue they add, and the three way fights you can get into when you, the soldiers, and necromorphs all meet at the same time.

Monday, 22 January 2018

The Devil's Candy (2015) - Horror Film Review


It is that time of year again when the annual Fright Meter Awards finalist have been announced and I find myself playing catch up on the ones I had missed. This year there are six films that I need to see before casting my votes, The Devil's Candy is one of these and is up for a few of the categories including Best Horror Movie, Best Score, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ethan Embry) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Pruitt Taylor Vince).

Struggling painter Jesse Hellman (Embry - The Walking Dead) moves into a new house along with his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and teenage daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). The property had been heavily discounted due to the previous owners dying there. Not long after moving in a strange man who appears mentally unwell; Ray (Taylor Vince - Stranger Things, Identity) calls on them saying his parents used to live there. It soon turns out this man hears voices in his head that tells him he has to kill children for the devil, and that he has his sights set on Zooey...


I wasn't completely sure to begin with if I would like The Devil's Candy, but it had an undeniably great soundtrack due to the father and daughter being metalheads. It was strange seeing Embry outside of his role in light hearted comedy Grace and Frankie but I soon came to like his portrayal as a 'cool' dad, the family dynamic worked well here and he gives a good performance as someone who is trying his best by his family but is a bit of a flawed person. It was interesting to see the supernatural used in such a low key way, while Ray is a serial killer it seems the voice he hears telling him to kill are actually real, as it isn't long before Jesse also starts hearing voices, though the ones he hears inspires him to go into a fugue state and unconsciously paint chilling pictures of past victims of the killer. There is a nice atmosphere of unease but this never really comes to the forefront of the movie though the Satanic connections are threaded deeply, not only with the paintings and motives given for characters, but also for clips from TV shows that talk about the origins of the devil throughout history, and religious programs talking about Satan.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for January 2018


So for 2018 I shall be continuing putting all news items into one post. Back in the day I would dedicate an entire blog post to each item of news, but I am so busy nowadays that that just isn't practical. So this shall be the first news post of the year. Starting off with Shudder news is that season 2 of Jordskott was released on January 18th. I haven't seen the show at all but it sounds like something I would enjoy. In season 2 Eva returns to her old job in Stockholm trying to put the events of season 1 behind her, but the discovery of a mutilated corpse in an icy lake makes her think things are not quite over.

Some late Christmas news first with a trailer for a fake Phantasm holiday special from Darkly Films that uses clips from the film and is based on the Star Wars Christmas special. More than anything this has made me want to watch the Phantasm series again, still haven't got around to watching Phantasm: Ravager.
Also from Darkly Films; they contributed three horror films towards the 2017 15 Second Horror Film Challenge (a post about the top 20 shall be coming in the future). One of their shorts Honest Horror Films: The Basement was selected by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment as his #1 film out of all the entries.





 The first official teaser trailer for cyber crime psychological thriller The Darkest Nothing: Paraphrenia has been released. This film is about a live video feed streaming out of a website hidden on the dark web in which a psychiatrist uses it to manipulate the viewers. This is apparently the first feature length film in the series, 5 other short movies are going to accompany this as bonus material showing how the live feed came to be. From the teaser it looks like there is some sort of Hostel/Saw type situation going on with victims being filmed for the viewers pleasure. Post production has started, and the shorts will be made available once the main film screens.



Next up comes the news that Dakota Bailey (The Acid Sorcerer, American Scumbags) has released a trailer for his upcoming feature length exploitation film; The Rise and Fall of an American Scumbag. Again going with what he does best this film will feature a bunch of interconnected stories that revolve around drug addicts and degenerates. As the title would suggest this is related to 2016's American Scumbags and features the same cast, including Dakota himself as hitman Johnny and the wheelchair bound Vietnam veteran Wheeling Deals (L.B). No one quite does films like this so will be interesting to see how this turns out.



Last month I reviewed short horror film The Temple of Lilith that was a companion piece to a large short; Sulphur for Leviathan. That film now has a trailer out for it. Director James Quinn refers to this film as "An outcry of anger against the anti-rationalism of the Catholic church". This arthouse short looks pretty cool so maybe one to keep an eye out for.


Next some music news with Australian gothic.industrial hard rock outfit The Creptter Children's new album having been released on January 12th. Asleep With Your Devil EP features five tracks, with one being a new version of their 2016 single Watching You.
Circle of Dust have a new single out in the form of Contagion (Sebastian Komor Remix). The press release says 'Experience glitchy vocals and revamped guitars, while still head banging to the industrial overtones'. This was released January 18th on Spotify, FiXT Store and Bandcamp with it coming to all other digital stores on January 19th.

Finally the fan film Michael Myers versus Jason Voorhees debuted on YouTube on 15th January. The clues in the title as to what this involves. Directed by Mason C. McDonald and starring Jeff Payne as Myers and Dustin Miller as Vorhees.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Blue World Order (2017) - Post Apocalyptic Film Review


I don't often stray away from horror on this blog, yet I see the post apocalyptic genre as such a fascinating subject that I never mind covering it, especially as the destruction of the world shares a lot with my most favourite genre. So Blue World Order is of course post apocalyptic, it was directed by Dallas Land and Che Baker who were actually editor and actor respectively on Theatre of the Dead.

A devastating nuclear war wiped out the world of old with the survivors finding themselves succumbing to a strange virus. A vaccine was developed and sent out in the form of an electromagnetic pulse that 'downloaded' information to everyone the pulse touched. However this vaccine secretly installed mind control into the people it affected, not only that but it killed nearly every single child. Now a self appointed government naming itself The Order, led by Master Crane (Billy Zane - Zombie Killers: Elephant's Graveyard) rules with an iron fist. Jake Slater (Jake Ryan) had been living in the wilds for the past two years and so knew none of this. For reasons unknown he is immune to the mind control pulse effects, while his daughter Molly (Billie Rutherford) has been in a coma since the pulse occurred, and so as the film begins he arrives at a settlement seeking assistance for her condition unaware of the trouble he is going to find himself in...


Blue World Order is a very cheesy sci-fi adventure film, but this is done purposely and not in error. In many ways this reminded me of movies of this type from the 70's and 80's but brought into modern day with over use of adequate CGI rather than dodgy practical effects. These have a certain charm but it is always obvious what is real and what is not, brought to great attention during a late Mad Max style car chase across a desert in which our heroes find themselves being chased by no end of vehicles that explode in a CGI ball of flame when shot. One thing going for this movie is how much crazy stuff happens, it can be hard to keep up at times with the amount of plot twists and turns going on. There are some fun to watch fight scenes due to the way the attackers seemed more focused on dancing around than actually fighting. The fighting scenes work well due to the no nonsense approach Jake tackles his foes with most his moves being a single punch, kick or headbutt to decommission his enemy. John Wick is a beautiful ballet to watch, here Jake is like a runaway steam train barrelling into everyone through force of will. I think the best fight scene was when Jake had his unconscious daughter in his arms, to all intents and purposes it really looked like he was using her prone body as a weapon!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Elfen Lied (2004-5) - Horror Anime TV Show Review


My best friend has been on at me for years to give Japanese anime Elfen Lied a watch, so as a kind of self serving Christmas present to her I binge watched it over the course of a week. I've been sat on this post for a while as it was a 'break glass in case of emergency' kind of thing and after an exhausting day in my day job the time is ripe. This is a horror that is based on the manga of the same name and ran for 13 episodes, it could be said to be quite bleak and depressing covering some nasty topics and featuring a lot of extreme violence.

Lucy; a deadly human mutant (known as a Diclonius) escapes the secure facility she had been kept prisoner in for several years, butchering many of the staff and guards along the way due to several invisible long limbs (known as 'vectors') she possesses. However just as she is escaping she is shot in the head with the resulting trauma creating a split personality. A teenage boy Kouta and his cousin Yuka discover her washed up on a beach at a nearby town and take her home, Lucy's split personality manifests as a mentally disabled girl barely capable of speech, who they name Nyu. Desperate to stop Lucy the facility sends out various groups including a task force, a ruthless mercenary, and other Diclonius in order to try and kill her, all of which is unknown to her new personalities innocent new friends.


Elfen Lied gets off to a fantastic start, the initial escape from the facility is amazing with blood shed and mayhem setting up the tone of the show. Blood is in high abundance, as is extreme violence against everyone. Innocents don't escape here with graphic murders of both men, women, and even children by the Dicloniuns, even I was shocked to see a child get ripped in half with her spine visible out her body! These scenes are so cool and fun to watch (within the scope of the show of course) it makes for some really exciting scenes of horror in a kind of Carrie type way. It also helps neuter the antagonists as they are mostly awful human beings who do truly awful things (such as one who is tasked with killing newborn babies who exhibit signs of the mutation within them) yet looking objectively trying to stop a mass murderer whose DNA calls for her to kill all humans is not an evil act per se.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Insidious: The Last Key (2018) - Horror Film Review


I go more out of my way to try and avoid trailers nowadays, especially as they seem to have evolved to the stage where the entire film is shown in them. As such the release of the fourth Insidious film took me totally by surprise. I really enjoyed Insidious, it felt like a breath of fresh air at the time, however by the time 2013's Insidious: Chapter 2 came out the series was already starting to feel stagnant. My problem was that Lin Shaye's performance as Elise was the best thing about the series, and so to have her die straight away meant there wasn't really anywhere to go. That is except backwards with Insidious: Chapter 3 actually being a prequel, but one that again felt like it was towing the line and not really doing anything to stand out. Insidious: The Last Key is another prequel, this one is shoe horned directly before the very first film and features a lot of Lin Shaye which can only be a good thing.

Spirit medium Elise is contacted by a man who requests her help due to his house being haunted. This house turns out to be the childhood home she was raised in, and one in which as a child she was tricked into freeing a demonic force which proceeded to kill her mother. Returning to the place brings forth a lot of painful memories for Elise, but ones that will help her, and her lackeys: Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell who also wrote this) find a way to right the wrongs of the past.


Much like the previous entry I went into this with my expectations not raised very high. Initially my low expectations were met, mainly due to being very tired and not really being in the mood for a cinema visit (second day in a row!). However I came to appreciate The Last Key, mainly due to having so much Elise who still remains the most interesting character of the whole series. I liked the fact that this time around the story was very much about her, sure the plot has her responding to a request for help but it is her past that gets explored. This is done by a couple of flashbacks, one when she is a small child and first discovering her gift of seeing the dead, a second one set when she is a teenager. I liked how these flashbacks were revisited during the film shedding new light on events both in the present and in the past.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Lion (2017) - Short Horror Film Review


The award winning (has currently won 64 of them) Lion is the latest short film from Davide Melini (The Puzzle, The Sweet Hand of the White Rose) who both wrote and directed this ten minute horror piece. I mentioned this back in May of last year so it was a pleasure to finally get to see it. It does something a little different with respect to the horror, both in terms of the message it tells (even ending with a message from children's charity Unicef) and in the focus of the threat (of which the clue may very well be in the title).

This takes place at a remote woodland homestead where the abusive Jeff (Michael Segal - Anger of the Dead) drinks beer in the front room, watching TV, while his wife Amanda (Tania Mercader) is in the kitchen, and child Leon (Pedro Sanchez) complete with fresh bruises on his face lays in bed upstairs. The child wishes for help, and it seems his prayers are answered when the nature documentary Jeff is watching suddenly becomes a lot more realistic...


Lion has almost the feel of a fairy tale with the mellow soundtrack and the repeated images of a remote home in the middle of a snowstorm. It is a story of justice, though one tinged with an aspect of sadness, not just because there is an abused child at the forefront of the story, but because he is shown to be obsessed with lions and so the justice that occurs could well be all in his head. At ten minutes there is no room for padding out and so events move at a pace that is steady with everything having meaning.

To be honest I was a bit wary about how a lion would be shown, I really hoped there wouldn't be awful CGI to show a lion in a house, thankfully that is not the route gone for with the creature showing up in several shots close up or partially glimpsed, I liked the initial reveal of the horror in particular with a great face off between the lion approaching the front of the TV screen in a style similar to Sadako from Ringu and the increasingly furious Jeff who drunkenly shouts at the screen after the remote stops working. The effects in general were good, the setting and the snow on the window looked CGI, but helped with the fairy-tale feel, while there is a great looking severed appendage at one point.

Lion is a simple story but one that is filmed well and uses something not often seen in films in general. While a lot of what happens is left up to the viewers imagination this doesn't detract from the piece, or the message it is giving out. Worth a watch if you get the chance.

SCORE:

Monday, 15 January 2018

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Zombies Mode 'The Beast from Beyond' (2017) - Thoughts on the final Zombies map


It has been so long now that it hardly seems worth even mentioning the final map for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare 'Zombies' mode. However I do intend to do a blog post on the Call of Duty: World War II 'Nazi Zombies' mode and so I felt I needed to get some closure by wrapping up this games DLC. The Beast from Beyond is the fifth and final map, following on as it does from Zombies in Spaceland, Rave in the Redwoods, Shaolin Shuffle, and Attack of the Radioactive Thing.

This continues the story of four unfortunate actors finding themselves trapped in the films of director Willard White. This time around they find themselves trapped in a desolate military station on a far away ice planet. However in a move that reminded me a bit of Call of Duty: Black Ops III 'Revelations' you get to also go to quite a familiar place. You unlock a portal that allows you to travel to the cinema from which you were banished at the very start of the story, here you can fight around the cinema, as well as go to the 'real' version of the Afterlife Arcade. Initially I thought this extra area was from Shaolin Shuffle and so got excited to visit the other settings, but no, it just looks like that place.


Me and my best friend had a baptism by fire playing this. Rather than zombies you start the level fighting off alien creatures straight from Extinction (which was the Call of Duty: Ghosts sci-fi flavoured extra mode). These aliens were frustratingly tough to kill, even when this map starts you with an assault rifle rather than a pistol. We both detested the lack of zombies and were quite ready to give up on this for good. However after doing the equivalent of turning on the power the undead finally make their appearance, with the aliens coming back as special enemies. It was interesting that the special round zombies are made up from ones of a few different maps. You have the exploding clowns from Zombies in Spaceland, the aliens from this map, as well as the Kung-Fu zombies from Shaolin Shuffle.

What I like about this map is that there are some pretty open areas making it easy to manage the undead hordes. I also like the sci-fi setting that set itself apart from the other maps, though it never rivals Rave in the Redwoods that is one of my favourite Zombies maps from any of the games. What I didn't like, aside from the map starting with aliens is that there is no licensed music, but then it had been on a steady decline since Rave. Also I thought the costumes the characters wear were all a bit bland and samey looking. I didn't play enough of this map to get a good feel for what the Easter egg on it was, to be fair I still haven't had a decent amount of time spent here.


For those who don't go in Infinite Warfare 'Zombies' much there is actually a mode on there now where you get to fight the bosses from each of the maps. This includes the secret boss for The Beast from Beyond that has you fighting a gigantic Satan. Overall this map was a good end to what has been quite a decent spin on the Zombies formula. I really liked the more light hearted tone with these maps and if they ever decide to bring it back in a future instalment I will be on board.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Bible Black: Episode One (2017) - Horror Show Review


I first mentioned horror show Bible Black back in October last year (here) and have now had the opportunity to watch the first episode of this new anthology series. This was created in the tradition of Amazing Stories and Twilight Zone but has been done in quite the unique way. Rather than be live action this is actually like a graphic novel come to life with a voice over narration as the camera sweeps around pages of a book with mild paper craft style animation.

Over 22 minutes there are a huge variety of different short stories and written pieces melded together, some lasting for just a minute or so, others like the story about a lobster girl has much more screen time (that one is actually told in three parts). The stories are all very dark and deal with subjects that can't help but be controversial with some distasteful topics looked at. You have a piece about God committing suicide after giving up on mankind, you have a rape victims poor treatment at the hands of friends and family leading to her identifying with her rapist, even a piece about Jews questioning their belief in God due to the Holocaust. Others include a religious woman drowning her six children in a bathtub, and the rounding up of Jews to be sent to Auschwitz dressed up like a jovial circus advert.


The style of these are so dramatic and over the top that it is hard to take too much offence to them, more than anything this reminded me of the TV show you could find playing on televisions in the Max Payne series of video games, Address Unknown I think it was called. The gruff deep voice of the narrator, coupled with the still graphic novel style images couldn't help but remind me of that game. For that reason I quite enjoyed this, I do love anthologies anyway and this over the top camp and unsettling tone hit a nice median with the bleak, yet well drawn artwork on show.

The way this is presented makes this stand out, I can't think of anything similar out there, as a pilot it creates the right sense of where this show will go. My only concern really is that by grabbing at the low hanging fruit that is murder, rape, religion and Nazis I wonder how much variety there can be in future episodes; if it will keep following the same topics until there's nothing else to explore, or if it will find new and exciting avenues to explore. Episode One is now available to watch on Amazon Video.

SCORE:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

One of Us (2017) - Horror Film Review


I have one last item left to deal with from before Christmas and then I am up to date with 2017 requests. The penultimate goal of mine was to watch One of Us that was directed and co-written by Blake Reigle. This horror was well made, in fact more so than I had expected, yet I found it was missing that certain spark to make it a great film.

Christa B. Allen (Detention of the Dead) stars as Melanie; an investigative reporter who isn't adverse to taking risks. After getting a worrying message on her phone from an old friend who then disappeared she decides this shall be her next big story. She heads to the last known location of her friend, this happens to be a mountain commune ran by a charismatic man named Brent (Derek Smith). There she infiltrates the group but soon discovers the commune has more the trappings of a cult, and that she may have gotten in over her head...


This both reminded me of found footage The Faith Community as well as Tricia Lee's Silent Retreat in that an unsuspecting innocent ends up trapped in a strange cult. Here the main protagonist is already pretty clued in that things are probably not right here, something that is shown to the viewer in the prologue when Brent gives a brainwashed cult member a gun and tells them to shoot themselves. This introduction by the way features a great scene in which the visuals match up to the music playing over the scene. Drugs play a big part here with Melanie (going under the name Mary) constantly getting drugged when she sleeps, suffering amnesia and becoming pliable to the leaders whims. However her goal was to go undercover and it never becomes crystal clear if she is actually just pretending to be getting ingrained into the group or if she actually is. With no other characters to speak to who know who she really is this aspect is always a bit misty. Near the films start she has her phone confiscated and so it is up to her sister and editor back in the city she came from to explore just what exactly is going on. The subplot of this exploration though never felt smooth, at one point it takes place just as a voice over, another part this sub plot starts with a far away shot of a city, as if to remind people these other characters actually existed. I felt if Melanie herself had discovered this it might have added to the tension a bit.

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Rotting Zombie interviews Andrew J.D Robinson


Andrew J.D Robinson is a prolific director responsible for a lot of short horror films, that include among them Placebo, A Walk Home Alone, and Sightings. He has a penchant for making more artful pieces, ones that are executed in interesting ways. He is also the founder/festival programmer for 15 Second Horror Film Challenge which is a nonprofit international filmmaking contest. I interviewed him about the process of making his films and what ideas inspire him as a creator.

First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decide to make films, what is it about the horror genre that brought you to it?

Filmmaking, for me, is an infusion of all my artistic passions.I decided to make films after my life with the arts evolved towards film. Ever since kindergarten, I always thought I was going to be a Disney cartoonist which evolved into comic book illustration. I'd produce comic strips for my high school classmates that were an amalgamation of everything I loved at the time - Star Wars meets Spawn - where I'd invite classmates to create characters into my superhero universe. Soon after, the family got their first computer and I discovered Newgrounds; an animation community fostering indie creators. This led me to teach myself Macromedia Flash 5 so I could animate cartoons onto Newgrounds. There were viewers able to look past my works' initial crude craft because my strong suit was writing comedy/horror content. As the technical side caught up to the content, I received nine daily Top 5 awards, as far as 2nd place for an episode of mine called 'Brunch of the Dead'.

As my teens continued, I found myself shooting dozens of short films on our family DV tape camcorder with a rag-tag cast made of my sister and friends - skits, faux commercials, and comedy/horror - whether they were for school or outside of. After graduation, I was enrolled to a General Arts College program, however, I dropped out two weeks in after soon discovering that I wanted to be a filmmaker.

In retrospect, drawing and animation were pre-requisite. With filmmaking, I'm able to adopt and explore all of my passions for film whether it's photographic shot composition, storyboarding films, in-camera art direction, VFX post, or conceptually collaborating with FX artists to create horrors. From 2011 and on, my portfolio established myself predominantly as a horror filmmaker. Horror is cinema's Swiss army knife that can draw comedy and drama from. What's tension without moments of levity? What's action without emotional stakes? And how can joy be felt without its struggle against horror? I find the most effective horror movies are a symphony of emotions whereas by the end of it, you could leave the movie with a euphoric feeling along the lines of leaving a fun amusement park ride. That's what draws me to filmmaking and the horror genre - the opportunity to give someone that experience as other filmmakers have for me.

You put out a lot of short horrors, do you have a whole host of ideas waiting to be turned into films, or do you come up with them one at a time?

I never come up with one idea at a time, and could not even if I tried. That's not to say that I cannot focus on the purpose of a singular story. It's very important to be able to reign in all of your ideas, whether it's scenes, subplots, or characters under an umbrella of themes. When it comes to coming up with ideas, I'll indiscriminately write them down. Some begin small and grow, some appear larger that they're meant to be, but all of them have the potential to bring new meaning when I puzzle them together and see what new ideas comes together. Many of my feature-length ideas originally came from experimenting with crossing over ideas into the other.

You appear to have a small stable of actors that appear in quite a few of your films. Do you write parts for particular actors, or is it good fortune that the people you use are able to fit a variety of roles?

I've been fortunate to find actors who have that enigmatic ability to assume characters that are polar opposite from the other. Naturally it comes with practical perks, but more-so I gravitate towards building a working rapport with actors that only time and experience grants. It inspires me to write different shades for staple actors because not only is it thrilling for the actors and myself to see our collaborative process grow new creative dynamics, but myself as a fan of movies I love to see when actors have the opportunity to showcase other sides to them like painters producing new portraits.

Often with a lot of your films a lot of the horror comes from dialogue suggesting events rather than any on screen visuals; such as the radio announcer in A Walk Home Alone, or the phone call in Sightings, these were both pretty effective methods that not a lot of films seem to do. How did you come up with this idea of suggestive terror?

I found myself becoming a student of horror just from sheer passion for the genre growing up. The principles of "less is more" and "the filmmaker cannot create something worse than the audience can for themselves" began to be tools of the trade for me more-so towards my late-twenties. Suggestive terror is not without information; it's information that the filmmaker provides the audience that creates tension. It's certainly worth paraphrasing Hitchcock's bomb theory from his masterclass on suspense:

Imagine two people sitting at a table talking for five minutes, and then suddenly a bomb goes off. The audience is shocked for five seconds. Now, imagine the same two people sitting at a table talking, and the filmmaker shows the audience there's a bomb underneath the table that's going to blow up in five minutes. Now as the scene plays out for the next five minutes, their conversation about baseball or their chicken dinner brings new context as the audience hollers "Stop talking about whatever! Look under the table!" You've now managed to re-engineer the same scene to have five minutes of suspense instead of five seconds of shock.

I find those elements fascinating to play with and my long-hand films will explore that. When done right, it can make for a fun time at the movies!

From beginning to end what is the average amount of time it takes to craft your films from idea to finished product? What is your personal favourite one you have made?

The length of time to craft a film differentiates depending on its needs, but a principle is that I never put a deadline on pre-production when I'm the sole producer. Some films, from ideas to production, can happen in a flash whereas others may wrestle to sync schedules. Once pre-production is complete, I try my hardest to win principal photography as soon as possible because you never know how schedules, over a length of time, may change and conflict. Everyone I work with does not 'do this full time' - we all orchestrate around our day jobs.

My personal favourite would be a 2016 production I had to axe called "The Watcher". The making of the film over the course of summer nights, starred Maura Stephens (A Walk Home Alone) and Aileigh Karson (Something Scary). It's my favourite because of what came out of it: what didn't come out of it was a finished product presentable for the public due on my behalf because I hit a glass ceiling to my DSLR filmmaking know-how - I naively embarked on a low-lit thriller without ever having grasped aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure, and in-camera settings. I was shooting it as I would do with a camcorder. I was very happy with the cuts, staging, choreography, and for Maura and I's craft. Initially, when I looked at the noisy blotchy footage in post, it was devastating, however I bounced back to go to YouTube film school and learning low-lighting.

You either succeed or you learn.

After reigning in on the technical side, I realized the sins of my ways haha. For you filmmakers out there, get ready to cringe: imagine shooting a low-lit scene with an f/stop of 22 with your kit lens zoomed in for most shots while your exposure is cranked up on blast. It was a personal achievement with my 2017 shorts to avenge my loss - "Placebo" and "Sightings" in particular were rematches to low-light filmmaking and they proved my YouTube film school in practice. "The Watcher" is my personal favourite because it was both the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

Do you watch much horror at all? and what is your favourite scary movie? Going off that who would you cite as your biggest influence on the way you build your films?

I watch a lot of horror. Especially growing up, I'd watch every new movie that came out. Nowadays, I'm more conservative with watching the next new wave of films, because I'm more occupied hunting down titles that have always been on my to-watch queue.

My favourite scary movie would be tough to choose one, and they've changed as I've changed - from Hellraiser, Black Christmas, to Suspiria - but one that's really spoken to me during the past few years now is an Australian mockumentary called "Lake Mungo" that chronicles a family dealing with the grieving loss of their family member. It's a slow-burn that begins to blur the lines between drama and the fantastical, until it coalesces into a fever pitch.

Filmmakers such as Carpenter, Rodriguez, and Corman speak to me with how to build a production - fix it in prep, have a Plan B, get as much as you can on the screen, shoot only what you need, be open to trying new things in post production while always keeping the edit and the audience in mind. Guillermo Del Toro, speaking on Pan's Labyrinth, fought against studio pressures 'to reach a wider audience' by telling the people upstairs that he didn't want a wider audience, he wanted the audience for the movie.

Speaking to Maura she mentioned a film you're working on called Dispatch. Is there any additional details you can give on that one, and do you have any additional films you are thinking about making at the moment?

"Dispatch" is an emergency distress call told solely from the point of view of a dispatcher (Maura Stephens) dealing with a caller (Erin Kiniry) who is experiencing a home invasion. It will be the last stop before completely embarking on our debut feature-film "Shadow People" - a script that I've been carving out for years. For the past year, it's been winning significant strides amidst the many bad drafts I had to get out of me haha but where it's at now, I'm happy that this wasn't a film that I had jumped in too early before honing my craft towards. The plot follows an ensemble of grieving characters investigating the sudden disappearances of loved ones.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Paranormal Farm (2017) - Horror Film Review


I am finally just about back on track after far too much time off from doing film review requests over the festive period. I like to go into films without any prior knowledge, it turns out English horror Paranormal Farm is quite a literal title as it is set on a farm where ghostly things have been going on. This is a found footage horror, but thankfully comes from the more recent trend of having legitimate believable performances. While this is not without its faults the indie nature of how this was created is really quite impressive.

Writer and director Carl Medland (The Spiritualist) stars as Carl; a paranormal investigator who has responded to an ad in a paper to explore the spooky goings on at the farm of Lucy (Lucy French) and her husband Darren (Darren Earl Williams). His aim is to spend the night alone in the farmhouse of the couple in order to find out if the paranormal activities reported are real, and if they are connected to the couple's daughter; Jessica, who went missing some years previously in the area. Carl discovers not everything is as it should be...


I love the indie sensibilities of this movie, IMDB reports this has a budget of just £200, apparently the entire film was shot over just one weekend, and it was all filmed on an iPhone, to my knowledge only the second film I have seen that was recorded on a phone (found footage The Break-In being the other one). Despite following the current trend of awesome main lead performances (more on that later) this goes right back to The Blair Witch Project in how it was planned, with real Carl having a rough outline of what was going to happen, but then pretty much ad-libbing all his lines, and having crew create scares around him that he wasn't aware of, in order to get real responses.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Knuckle Supper: Ultimate Gutter Fix Edition (2017) by Drew Stepek - Horror eBook Review


Author Drew Stepek released Knuckle Balled around November last year which was the follow up to his 2010 novel Knuckle Supper. He contacted me to give his new book a review, however he made the mistake of also including a copy of the first book in the series. I say mistake as I am notoriously slow at reading books and so it has taken me until today to read the first one, let alone his sequel (that I shall start reading this evening!). However it has come to my attention that I was actually provided with a newly edited version of the first book, the 'ultimate gutter fix edition' and this actually was also newly released last November. This is a vampire story with quite a difference (and one where 10% of the book's revenues goes to a charity dedicated to helping save child prostitutes).

RJ Reynolds is a heroin addict who also happens to be the leader of a gang of vampires known as The Knucklers. One day he takes the fateful decision to take pity on a child prostitute named Bait who ends up a prisoner at his hideout, rather than kill her he decides to take her under his care. This causes friction between him and his second in command; a young arrogant vampire named Dez who thinks there is no point keeping her alive. While this is going on The Knucklers hatch a plan to steal a large amount of heroin from another vampire gang called The Battlesnakes, one that is run by King Cobra who is the self appointed leader of all the vampires in the city. These two events begin the downward spiral of RJ...

Knuckle Supper is Tank Girl meets Twilight as directed by Rob Zombie. I loved this book it was so fresh and so captivating in the scum ridden world it portrays. Main anti-hero RJ is barely much better than anyone else, regarding humans with very little respect, foul mouthed and homophobic he exists only to get high and feed, wallowing in his own filth (sometimes literally). He lives out his life in decrepit trashy surroundings with no care for anyone. He serves as such a fantastic character though as he is a change from typical leads, he brought to mind more of someone from a Charles Bukowski or John Fante novel, an anti-hero who is given a purpose and a chance to make something of his life, but staying pretty despicable as he goes. It's telling that such a character is the main light, his journey finds himself going against cultish hypocrites, traitorous rapists and even neo-Nazi's. I struggled to understand just how someone like RJ would decide to take a human child under his wing. At first it makes no real sense as it isn't like Bait is a sweet person, she is just as corrupted and ruined as anyone else in this messed up world. However backstory of a similar thing occurring in the past kind of smoothed that out.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (2017) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)


I was intrigued from the moment I first heard about Ninja Theory's latest game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. At its heart it is a psychological horror, but the fascinating part comes that it is a deep exploration of psychosis. The main character; Senua suffers visual and auditory hallucinations that the game does a damn fine job of showing to you, this was apparently made with help from neuroscientists, mental health specialists, and people who suffer from the condition.

Set in the late 8th century we follow Senua (a Pict warrior) who has gone on a journey to Hellheim in order to rescue the soul of her lover Dillon (whose head she carries in a sack on her belt). Along the way she is forced to confront the darkest memories and secrets of her mind.


If I were to review Hellblade based purely on its sound design this would get a solid 10/10, the sound in this game is simply phenomenal. You are advised to wear headphones while playing and I would say that is pretty much essential as the voices in Senua's head are done in such a way as to feel like they are right by you whispering or shouting into your ears. Everywhere you go these voices persist giving you both useful information, but also mocking you and threatening you. I was so impressed with the voice work throughout, there is not a bad voice actor to be found with the cast all giving fantastic performances. This is helped by the use of sound effects that are all spot on, from wind chimes and crackling fires to the sound of dripping water, it all sounds so authentic and natural.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Stirring (2018) - Horror Film Review


Stirring is the second film to come from new director Troy Escamilla, after last years Party Night. In the interest of disclosure I should mention that I contributed towards the Kickstarter campaign for this film, and that I know Troy through the Fright Meter Awards committee. As such I won't be putting a score at the end of this review. So Stirring is a Christmas themed horror, following in the great tradition of such classics as Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas.

A new member of a Sorority house snaps after bullying from one of her new sisters, she brutally murders her bully before taking her own life. Fast forward ten years and Amber (Kaylee Williams); the sister of the murdered girl has joined the same Sorority as a means of dealing with the tragic event. However someone is not happy about this, a new killer wearing the disguise of Mrs Claus has arrived to try and kill her and her friends...


It was only once I sat down to watch this that I realised just how much I had been looking forward to seeing it, the entire film for me was a joy fest. Party Night (that gets a nice reference here) was a decent first effort from Troy, but it seems he has learnt a lot from that one with Stirring feeling tighter and with a more focused script, as well as overall better direction for the cast. It was cool to see quite a few returning actors from Party Night, both Billy Brannigan, Ryan Poole, Drew Shotwell and Lawrence McKinney reappear. Much like the first film it was Shotwell who became my favourite actor, his performance as the stoner Jake was well played, leading to the films most tender scene between him and his female best friend. Elsewhere Poole's turn as jock Grant got the biggest laugh from me when lame Christmas music started playing at a party he was at, he exclaims something like "what the f*ck!?" which is exactly what I had been thinking myself! The star attractions here are Helene Udy (The Dead Zone, My Bloody Valentine) and Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre), with Stevens as the campus security officer being the best acted role. This time around the performances felt more consistent, the acting isn't outstanding, but it is satisfying and certainly fits the trashy 80's slasher vibe down to the bone. It was also to good to see another strong female lead with Williams's Amber. I really liked her, she had far more to her than the normal one dimensional character you would expect.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Rotting Zombie interviews Jacob Perrett


My latest interview has been with Jacob Perrett who is a 20 year old filmmaker from Meadville that is part of a group known as Fame Cinema. This group do a lot of varied projects, including horror shorts such as Planet of the Dead, Night of the Sitter, and latest film The Initiation. They can be found on YouTube at JacobSpeaks, and I will include one of their films after the interview.

Can you tell us a bit about your team; what was the genesis for deciding to make films?

The current Fame Cinema lineup we have now was acquired over the span of 2017. It is composed of Taylor Rhoades, who is my main collaborator, producer and acts in a majority of the projects. Along with Taylor is his wife, Danielle Rhoades, who does a great deal of behind the scenes work, she is like my "go-to" type of person on set. Another member is Matt Nale who had began working with us when he was 14. He attends the school I graduated from, and had expressed an interest in filmmaking, so I sort of took him under my wing. To finish off the group, Mackenzie Anthony and Christian Styborski both play pivotal roles in behind the scenes work.

I began making short film when I was around 10 years old. Growing up, I tried a multitude of different activities, basketball, baseball, even taekwondo. I could never really find any joy or fulfillment in any of these things, not to mention, I was terrible at being an athlete. My dad had eventually introduced me to YouTube, where I realised that making content was what intrigued me more than anything in the world.  I began making stop-motion shorts with my legos and clay. This world would soon spiral into a YouTube channel titled Jacob Speaks, and then eventually into a more "professional" Fame Cinema.

Your films all look very professional which I admit I wasn't expecting, each film seems to be an improvement over the last in terms of quality. Where did you learn to do this, and do you think with technology these days it is a lot easier for people to be able to realise their vision if they have the right group of like minded people?

Thank you! I'm self taught. When I was first introduced to YouTube, I would find videos I really liked, and I would try my best to replicate them. Over the years I just got better I suppose. With each film I try and focus on one particular aspect of the filmmaking process, and try and perfect that aspect. For example, Pumpkin Eyes I focussed on sound design, Night of the Sitter I focused on cinematography, etc.

Like minded people certainly help. Prior to the short film Two Good Things, I was working with people who took advantage of the opportunities I was giving them. I won't go into detail because it's a personal matter, but my creativity excelled greatly after meeting Taylor Rhoades. It's just great having someone who understands your goals and supports them.

What is your ambition, do you see film making as your future, and if so what lessons do you think you still need to learn?

I've never wanted anything more than to be a film director. I'm currently a sophomore in film school trying to expand my knowledge and hopefully make connections that will benefit me in the long run. I believe I have what it takes, I just need to meet the right people.


Who would you say your biggest inspirations are, and how did you come up with the ideas for your films?

As of late, the biggest influences have come from 80's horror and television shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? We're currently putting together an anthology feature film about an old television show and four recovered episodes. It's my love letter to Goosebumps essentially, which played such a big role in my childhood, for better or for worse.

With some of your films the young cast compliments the story, such as latest short The Initiation (set during a strange frat party), in other films such as the impressive Planet of the Dead it sometimes felt like older actors would have better suited some of the roles. Do you think it matters about the age of the actors if their acting is a high enough standard to play the part believably?

I absolutely think age matters. Planet of the Dead was my first REAL stab at making a movie. I was 17 at the time and only knew people of my age who would want to help me make the film. Adults in the area are so lame when it comes to this type of thing. Nobody wants to get behind or follow direction from someone who is younger than them, so I make do with what I have.


A lot of your films have been horror based, or at least associated with the horror genre. What do you find attractive about this genre, and what would you say is your favourite horror film of all time?

That's a good question. It's just something I'm attracted to. In particular I love old horror. For example, I didn't have the privilege of growing up in the 1980's but whenever I watch a film from that time period there is just a sort of nostalgic sensation I feel for that time.

As far as my favourite horror film goes, I'd say A Nightmare on Elm Street or James Whale's Frankenstein. A Nightmare on Elm Street was the film that got me into the genre. Frankenstein, in my opinion, is one of the greatest stories ever told. I've always felt some sort of weird connection to the monster.

Which of your films would you say has been your favourite to make, and do you have any regrets how any of your films have turned out?

Night of the Sitter is my favorite. For Her is a short film that is most personal to me, and I get a lot of joy when I look back on it, but it's not the best. The Black Ribbon is probably the film I have with the most regret. I just think we were trying to take ourselves too seriously in that film. I don't regret the experience as a whole at all, however. It's just not who I am as a filmmaker.

So over Christmas you released The Initiation on YouTube (loved the POV camera work on that btw), what is next in the pipeline for you and your team?

Well, Incubus and Night of the Sitter have been taken down from YouTube, for a very big reason. The next film we will be working on is called Goodnight, Daddy, and is my version of a slasher film. It will have the same aesthetic and feel that Night of the Sitter did. It will be the third entry into the anthology. The final segment will be called Cosmic Terror, and will play on some of the science fiction tropes of 80's horror. That will be shot in the spring. The feature all these films make up is called Weird Fiction, and has an estimated release date of October 2018.