Monday, 22 July 2019

Blood Paradise (2018) - Horror Film Review

I do like it when films I cover in my monthly news round-up later on down the line get offered up for review. Such is the case with Swedish horror comedy Blood Paradise which I first wrote about back in November of last year. This was directed by Patrick von Barkenberg who also appears in a secondary role here, and it was written by both him and Andrea Winter (who stars in this).

After acclaimed best-selling crime writer Robin Richards's (Winter) latest book flops her publicist sends her away to the Swedish countryside hoping it will inspire her back to greatness. The location chosen for her is a dilapidated property on a farm that is owned by a creepy farmer. She soon finds that everyone around her in her new surroundings have their own oddities, from her driver Hans Bubi (Christer Cavallius) who turns out to be an obsessive fan, to the farmer's sinister sister and son, something really isn't right with the place and Robin starts to see the whole trip as a bad idea.

I really wanted to love Blood Paradise and at times it came so close to me feeling that way. However there are moments here that led to frustration with how the story was playing out and being told, though some of those might not even be the fault of the film at all. There is a mild slasher vibe going on, with it made clear not that long in that there is a killer on the loose. I liked how it wasn't immediately obvious who this killer was, and with every character Robin meets weird in their own way it was easy to believe it could have been any one of them. This straddles the line between being a comedy and a horror though which sometimes leads to a surreal mish-mash of the two genres that gave me a feeling of The League of Gentlemen. For the most part this is an English language film, but there are moments when characters speak exclusively in Swedish with no subtitles present. I feel a bit wary about mentioning those parts as I'm not sure if it was just the screener I was provided with that had no subtitles, or if it was the intention of the director to keep these few scenes subtitle free. This mainly came into play with a subplot involving Bubi and his psychotic plant obsessed wife. Despite not being able to understand what they were saying to each other I still felt it was easy enough to get the gist of it. This language barrier works later on when Robin is encountered with a character speaking in Swedish to her, it allows the viewer to identify more with the alienation she is feeling.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Tales of Frankenstein (2018) - Horror Anthology Film Review

Here at The Rotting Zombie anthologies are always welcome. It seems I say this every time I speak of them, but they usually never fail due to variety meaning at least one story is going to be entertaining enough for the trade off for life spent watching. I first heard of the award winning Tales of Frankenstein back in 2017 and have today had the opportunity to see it. Despite the tale of Frankenstein's monster being a close cousin of the zombie genre I have always felt the story never quite works in modern times, it seems best suited to the past. With this anthology there are four different stories, all taking place in different time periods. The stories are all taken from director and writer Donald F. Glut's book of the same name.

In modern day a Frankenstein's monster is exploring the ruins of a castle when he comes across a portrait of Victor Frankenstein. Each story then follows a different character who came into possession of this portrait. This wraparound story is very barebones, so much so that it only really shows the traditional creature mournfully growling at the portrait he finds. The same clips are also used for flashbacks in some of the other stories.
First is My Creation, My Beloved that takes place in 1887. The hunchback Dr. Gregore Frankenstein (Buddy Daniel Friedman); a relative of Victor had also been working on bringing the dead back to life. During his studies he had fallen in love with a female science correspondent, but due to her ill health the pair had never met, though she donated her brain to him to study once she had passed. With this brain he hopes to give her a second chance at life in a younger, healthier body.
So this one lasts for around twenty five minutes and gives a good first impression of the style this anthology is going for. This is set out in style to the classic horror films from the Hammer Horror era, characters ham up their lines and throughout there is a soundtrack that creates a dream like fairytale atmosphere. I enjoyed the mild twist towards the end of this, and I liked the interactions Gregore had with the local corrupt mortician. It was a bit of a superficial story though in how beauty is prided over everything else here.

Next up was Crawler From the Grave which takes place in 1910. Helmut Frankenstein (Len Wein - the creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine in his final film role before his passing) has recently died from a plague known locally as 'the grey death', but not before drinking a potion he had created that he hoped would grant him eternal life. In life his jealous neighbour, Vincent (John Blyth Barrymore)   had desired Helmut's prized jeweled ring and so hatches a plan to dig him up to take it, though unable to remove the ring he was forced to chop off the corpses hand, which turns out to have a life of its own.
This was my favourite of the four short films with the severed hand reminding me both of Evil Dead II, and of Thing from The Addams Family. This played out in a way that felt similar to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, recurring themes such as the neighbour thinking he can hear the beating heart of Helmut, and the guilt he experiences due to the crime he committed made this into a cautionary tale. It was almost ruined by a terrible looking CGI shot of the severed hand crawling across a white floor, it was obvious where the hand had been digitally cut off to give its severed look, while the blood that drips from it also looked bad.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) - Horror Film Review

It turns out there was an installment of The Conjuring multiverse that I managed to miss (The Curse of La Llorona), not sure how that happened, I remember consciously not going to see it but no idea why! So Annabelle Comes Home (directed by Gary Dauberman) is the seventh in the series, the third film in the Annabelle series, and the sixth one out of the lot that I personally have seen. So obviously Annabelle started off as a spin off to The Conjuring. Annabelle was a misfire for me, though that is due to me expecting something different to what we actually got. I imagined a doll running around causing mischief, instead it is a demonic spirit that causes typical Paranormal Activity/Insidious style goings on. The prequel to this - Annabelle: Creation fared better as I knew what to expect. Now with Annabelle Comes Home we have a sequel to the mini story told about the doll in The Conjuring.

It is 1969 (allegedly) and is one year since the paranormal investigator couple Ed (Patrick Wilson - The Conjuring, Insidious) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga - The Conjuring, Godzilla: King of Monsters) have take possession of the cursed doll known as Annabelle, which, as Lorraine explains in the prologue (in which the couple are nearly killed by a runaway truck) is a beacon to spirits. The doll is kept in a locked room in the basement of their home in which everything evil they have defeated over the years is kept. Anyway the couple decide to head away on a trip and leave their young daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace - The Haunting of Hill House) in the care of teenage babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman - Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween). If that had been it then things would have turned out fine, however Mary's best friend Daniela (Katie Sarife - Supernatural) decides to visit the pair and it turns out she has an ulterior motive. Having recently found out about exactly what the Warrens do she has decided to find a way into their collection room to have a look around. In the process she ends up releasing Annabelle from the locked cabinet the doll had been kept in, and soon the Warren's house has turned into a place no one in their right mind would want to be...

Here at The Rotting Zombie I am all about lazy comparisons, and so to sum up this film it is basically that part in Ghostbusters when the Ecto Containment Unit gets shut down, and all the ghosts and ghouls escape, made into an entire film, but localised to a single dwelling. This also then makes it fit easily into my second comparison, that this is kinda like Thi13en Ghosts due to the amount of key spirits wandering around the hallways. For a film with 'Annabelle' in the title, and with a trailer that featured her heavily it was actually a nice surprise to see the doll wasn't actually in this too much. Sure she is an essential part, and is a catalyst for everything that occurs but she was just one of many spirits here. The doll looks as creepy as ever, and has some nice enough moments (including a part where her shadow starts changing into that of a demon) but she was hardly the highlight. Obviously she features a lot in the finale, and I have to say I did really like how this all ended.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Bit (2019) - Horror Film Review

I have never really minded the vampire genre of horror films, and it is one genre that has really benefited by getting with the times. As fun as the classic Dracula style stories are its when the mythos of the monster is brought into more modern times that the genre really shines. Films such as The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Stake Land even to an extent What We Do in the Shadows all take a look at just what sort of people these creatures would be nowadays. With a feminist angle to it Bit (directed and written by Brad Michael Elmore - The Wolfman's Hammer, Boogeyman Pop) feels very much of the time. Thankfully it never seeks to stuff its message down your throat but instead focuses on a smooth story.

18 year old Laurel (Nicole Maines - Supergirl) has headed to L.A for the summer to stay with her brother Mark (James Paxton - Boogeyman Pop) while she tries to work out just what she wants to do with her life. It is here that she catches the attention of the intense Duke (Diana Hopper - Goliath), and her all female gang. To Laurel's surprise she discovers that the girls are all vampires, and due to having a fondness for her, Duke decides to give her the choice to join them. All she has to do is follow the two fundamental rules - no glamouring other vampires, and no turning men.

This was a cool movie in that this was the intention it was going for. There is no end of stylish moments, whether it be the club the gang own that plays girl fronted punk music, or the great flashback sequence that shows Duke and her former master in a montage of sorts set during the 70's. These are self confident characters who feel very empowered, and also men hating in a way. Duke believes men would be too power hungry if they ever got to become vampires, and sees the perks of being one as a way to not only equal the sexes, but as a way to eventually put women on top, semi jokingly saying her goal would be to have every woman on Earth a vampire. Despite all this the film isn't preachy, it is more just the viewpoint of certain characters, which is counterbalanced by others, and by the fact that the vampires choose victims who they see as deserving of their justice, rather than indiscriminate killing. Despite all the gang seeming to be gay, and with the character of Laurel being mentioned as trans in all the press for this (Maines herself is trans in real life) this wasn't a part that seemed integral to the story. It seemed more a cautionary tale about self involvement to the point of damaging those around you that actually care about you, and need you.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Mermaid's Song (2015) - Horror Film Review

Mermaid's Song (originally titled Charlotte's Song) is a Canadian indie horror from director Nicholas Humphries (Night of the Living Dead Mexicans, The One That Got Away). It is set out as a homage to Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and acts as a twisted sequel to that classic story.

This takes place in 1930's Oklahoma and is about a young teenage girl, Charlotte (Katelyn Mager - Supernatural, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) who unknown to herself is actually a half mermaid/half human. Her father, George (Brandan Taylor - Supernatural, Bate's Motel) runs a club in which his daughters perform, but which has fallen on hard times ever since the suicide of his wife some ten years past. A local gangster called Randall (Iwan Rheon - Game of Thrones, Inhumans) offers to help George with his finances, but his involvement leads to things getting worse for the family.

So, not much really happens at all in Mermaid's Song, and nearly the entire film takes place within the home of Charlotte. Despite this I never found myself bored with what was going on, I was entertained despite some issues I had. The illusion of being the 1930's was helped a lot by the limited location, as well as the costume designs, and the music itself which became a real highlight. The plot is limited in its scope. On the one hand you have the human side of the story that sees George seemingly forced into pimping out his daughters on the orders of Randall. On the other side you have a subplot about Charlotte discovering the powers she holds. For a film about a mermaid it was interesting how this more fantastical part was relegated to the smaller storyline.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Midsommar (2019) - Horror Film Review

Midsommar is the latest film from Ari Aster whose previous film Hereditary was touted at the time as being 'this generations The Exorcist. Well it certainly wasn't, but it was a very well made film full of great acting, directing and cinematography. I was excited to see Midsommar mainly due to the fantastic trailer. It's an example I wish more people would follow as it was not only superbly edited, but it also gave the tone for the movie without actually spoiling anything at all.

Christian (Jack Reynor - Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Dani (Florence Pugh - Malevolent) are in a relationship that has really ran its course, her boyfriend mainly staying with her out of a feeling of duty due to her anxiety problems. Dani's family are discovered dead in horrific circumstances not long before Christian was due to go on a holiday that he hadn't told her about with his college friends. These friends include Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) and Mark (Will Poulter - Black Mirror: Bandersnatch). Due to her intense grief at her loss he feels obliged to invite her along, not expecting her to say yes. Pelle was from a remote pagan community in Sweden and has invited his friends to attend the annual summer festival held there which includes a variety of pagan rituals. Initially these rituals appear odd and vaguely humorous to the visitors, but they soon start to take on a more disturbing tone, and the friends begin to regret ever coming.

So to lazily sum up Midsommar it is basically a Swedish The Wickerman. To be fair though that isn't a bad comparison to make. Both films feature a remote pagan community, both feature plenty of singing, and there are elements in terms of where the story goes that feels quite similar. This really was quite the experience, and at two and a half hours it was something I totally got sucked into. I also was in two minds as to my actual thoughts to it, I left the cinema not really sure if I didn't like it, or if I thought it was an amazing film. I'm veering towards the later quite heavily now. There are some brutally dark moments tucked away in here, not least the traumatic prologue that shows the aftermath of the tragic event that took Dani's family.  There are some very surreal moments, helped by characters frequently taking mushroom tea that adds to the strong dreamlike atmosphere of the land where the sun never sets, this includes what is probably the strangest sex scene I have ever seen in a movie. On that side of things this features both male and female full frontal nudity which is used within the context of the story rather than ever feeling like it was there for titillation. I would describe this as a disturbing film, yet not one that ever felt scary. Despite dark things going on there was never really a feeling of peril. This is helped in that much of the darkness that resides within the commune occurs off camera. On the surface (and on the screen) it is all joy and brightness, with the dark underbelly mostly unseen by both the protagonists and the audience until it's too late to escape.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Child's Play (2019) - Horror Film Review

Due to my car being out of action for a week I almost missed out on seeing this re-boot of the classic psycho doll series. Child's Play has been a series I have always had a lot of time for, and one of the few series where they have been able to go from mostly serious horror to pure comedy horror and still remain good. With this reboot (directed by Lars Klevberg - Polaroid) they straddle the line, while it is full of funny moments it also at least tries to throw up some genuine horror.

The re-boot takes place in a world that is more technologically advanced than ours. This is a world where a company named 'Kaslan' are the prominent manufacturer, they have everything from TV's and phones to self driving cars, and a more advanced version of 'Alexa' in the form of a walking, talking 'Buddi' doll that uses A.I learning to look after and assist children. The film starts with a disgruntled employee at a Buddi factory getting fired from his job. The last thing he does before he kills himself is turn off all the safety protocols on the particular doll he had been working on.
We then go to young single mum Karen (Aubrey Plaza - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Parks and Recreation) and her teenage son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman - Annabelle, Light's Out) who end up with this defective doll that gets named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill - Star Wars). With its machine learning limiters removed the doll comes to the decision that anyone who gets in the way of his and Andy's friendship deserves to die...

I had purposely avoided all trailers for this film and so I was interested to see just what changes would be made. The biggest by far is why the doll is evil. In the original it was a killer whose soul came to inhabit the Chucky doll. From the start this doll was evil as it was a killer controlling it. Here it instead all becomes a problem that is more sci-fi than paranormal, Chucky becomes evil due to the influences around it. It's A.I learning distorts its world view, so when Andy complains about his cat Chucky decides it needs to go. When Chucky sees Andy and his new friends - Pugg (Ty Consiglio - iZombie) and Falyn (Beatrice Kitsos - iZombie, The Exorcist TV series) laughing at brutal kills in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film it decides that violence is something that would please Andy. This is far less Annabelle, and far more The Toyminator. This technological angle is integral to the new vision as the 'cloud' allows Chucky to remotely control everything, from thermostats, to cars, drones, shutters, and even other Buddi dolls. It felt more in line with a Black Mirror episode in how it takes place in a world not to far into the future from ours.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Flesh Without Soul (2015) by Pochassic - Zombie Horror Book Review

Everytime I come to review an eBook I say pretty much the same thing; that I built up such a ridiculous backlog over the years that I am working my way backwards through it, as I figure the earlier authors and companies have given up on me. So that is how I came to be reading Pochassic's zombie novel Flesh Without Soul that I received a copy of way back in 2016. While it has taken me a long time to get around to it, it is something I am familiar with due to the enticing email header that catches my eye every time I go into my emails -  'a zombie apocalypse with a sequel proof ending'.

Pizza shop owner Kara is invited to go see her brother Michael who lives in a commune outside of the small town she lives in. Once there she is unexpectedly attacked and captured. It turns out Michael is in fact the crazed leader of a cult. He has created an airborne virus that turns its victims into ravenous ghouls, and that his followers have already gone out into the world and released it. At first Kara thinks all the news reports she is being shown are part of an elaborate plot by her brother to brainwash her, but it soon comes to dawn on her that what she is witnessing is actually the end of the known world...

Flesh Without Soul is one of the stranger zombie novels I have read, and I think a lot of that is both due to its pacing, as well as its relatively short length (clocking in at 166 pages). There were also a few character shifts throughout that gave the book a bit of a disjointed feel to it. There was overlap, almost like the baton was being passed on, but it felt like there wasn't really a primary protagonist, and after the first one there wasn't really much development with them. It was interesting in that the majority of the book takes place well away from all the action, taking place as it does in a Doomsday bunker. This gave a unique angle of passively watching the unfolding chaos without any particular threat.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Brightburn (2019) - Horror Film Review

From the very first moment I heard of Brightburn (directed by David Yarovesky) it sounded like something really interesting. The films plot came from the one single thought - what if Superman had been evil? Due to the intense similarities to that hero this feels like an 'elseworlds' origin story. I love superhero movies, so having that concept twisted into something that was genuine horror appealed to me.

Tori (Elizabeth Banks - The Hunger Games trilogy) and her husband Kyle (David Denman - The Office) desperately wanted a child, and so when a strange meteor crashlands on their farm bearing with it a baby boy they decide to raise him as their own, rather than report this to the authorities. Twelve years later and the boy, that they named Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn - Avengers: Endgame) is celebrating his birthday. However it is at this time the craft that brought him to Earth starts to send out a signal that reveals to Brandon what his true purpose in life is, as well as reveals the very special, and very dangerous powers he has...

What I loved about Brightburn was her far they go with the idea of an evil Superman. This is very much an origin story, taking place around Kansas so there is focussed on the one small area of the world. I liked how bleak and dark this was, once the plot starts moving there are no moments of levity. The awakening of Brandon's powers can be seen as a contrast with becoming a teenager. Where before he was bright(burn) and happy, he has changed into someone sullen and rude, who just so happens to be able to melt peoples faces off with eye beams. Usually creepy kids irritate me no end, The Prodigy earlier in the year being a prime example. Here though Dunn gives a one note performance that works. Once he has awakened he realises he is literally better than everyone mentally and physically and acts with a disdain for one and all. While he does make excuses and tries to hide what he has become there is no fake emotion to go with that. He seems almost sociopathic in that there seems to be little understanding for the consequences of his actions. On the flip side of that though I could never really tell if the intention was that Brandon did care about some of the characters here, at least a little bit, or if even those closest mean nothing to him anymore. The other actors all do fine jobs also, as is usually the way the growing up of Brandon is shown via a quick montage and so you never really get a proper sense of his parents love for him. It was great to see Matt Jones (Breaking Bad) as a side character, he did comic relief well.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Canine (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Canine, directed and written by Sean Richard Budde (Machine Baby) is a micro short that clocks in at just under five minutes in length. Despite this it manages to cover a lot of ground with a lot of different things going on. It was nominated for both 'Best Midnight Short' and 'Best Recurring Nightmare' at the 2018 Nightmares Film Festival.

Ira Amyx (Shameless) stars as Earl; a man in the desperate search for his missing dog. As he runs around the streets some good samaritans offer to give him a lift, which may turn out to be quite the mistake...

Despite the short run time Canine felt almost like two interconnected shorts. The first two minutes perhaps my favourite, Earl running through the dark streets as urgent synth based hammering music plays was quite involving. Then the moment when the shift happens and you realise something different is going on...was just so well done. The second part is almost the polar opposite, taking place in daylight in a fixed location. It was here when I started to become a little lost as to what was really going on. Even at one point I thought maybe the dog itself was able to brainwash people, but it comes to be that while the short is titled Canine, and does feature a dog as the focal point of every event occurring this is all a red herring as to the true force here. I never really understood the motivations of this central force though and so felt a little bit confused.

While the story itself wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped there are some really nice moments here. Amyx was a great choice for the main lead and had some nice facial expressions. The cinematography, editing and directing were all lovely to see, especially liked a scene that involved a leash. The seemingly random actions of Earl were a bit abrasive, but the surreal nature was a bit enticing. Canine is currently available to watch on Bloody Disgusting's World of Death - June 2019, which I shall include below.


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Silent Panic (2018) - Thriller Film Review

I found the idea of director and writer Kyle Schadt's (Sunland) thriller Silent Panic to be a good one. The concept is relatable in the way that it is something that in the wrong circumstances could technically happen, and so I found myself constantly not only thinking what I would have done, but also feeling the same guilt, and gut churning anxiety about the events that unfold. This was were the problem for me lay though, as what the characters do is so opposite of what I would have done myself that I just became more and more annoyed by their actions.

Eagle (Sean Nateghi), Bobby (Joseph Martinez - Mega Python vs. Gatoroid), and Dominic (Jay Habre) are three friends who have gone away on a camping trip. Upon returning to Eagle's car they are shocked to discover a corpse has been dumped in the boot. In the past Eagle spent a year in prison for a crime he didn't commit and so he is very hesitant to call the police for fear they will think he was responsible. The trio decide that at least for the moment they aren't going to tell anyone about what they have found, but soon find their communal secret tears their worlds apart.

The idea of a group of friends trying to figure out what to do with a dead body isn't new (The Upper Footage comes to mind as one such example), but the fact that it is a random body, and something they themselves have had no involvement with prior to the discovery is new. While I had a lot of issues with the middle act I did think Silent Panic had both a strong start, and a strong finish to it. The fact that Eagle has no trust in the police is a good reasoning for the initial refusal to contact the authorities, yet it soon becomes a ridiculous crutch that is there just to drag along the almost farcical storyline. The whole meaty middle part of this felt like a plot from a sitcom, yet is played seriously. A prime example is when Eagle desperately cycles to the local shops, all to stop his girlfriend from opening the boot of the car to put her shopping away. Eagle becomes one of the most irritating leads in recent memory, his plan is to go into complete denial about the situation he is in. Watching his life fall apart gave me some satisfaction as he was the absolute worst. For this type of film to work you have to have some identity with the leads but his actions were so opposite of mine that I could feel myself getting annoyed.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for June 2019

This year is going by so quickly, it seems like only yesterday I was doing the news round-up post for May. It's a humid day today so I'm feeling kinda sleepy, though sure that won't affect this post! I had planned to have Monday as a designated blog day, but that was too much so am spreading the weeks posts out over three days, and putting up one post every two days.

The surreal anthology show Bible Black currently has its first episode free to watch. Apparently this has been banned in several states in America. The show is almost like a graphic novel come to life and features dark and twisted stories.

The excellent found footage horror Butterfly Kisses has now been released on various VOD platforms that includes iTunes, Google, Xbox, Amazon and Vimeo. It follows a wannabe filmmaker who discovers a box full of creepy DVR cassettes and decides to edit them together so he can release a real life found footage film. I said of this "is a film that reminds me just how much I love horror."
I mentioned in May's news round-up that there was going to be an anthology book about the legend of Peeping Tom (the evil force from Butterfly Kisses) released, and now there is a podcast that has been released that goes more into this fictional legend. Hosted by Michael Joy, he is joined by the director of the film, Erik Kristopher Myers, and the author of the upcoming book 'In The Blink of An Eye', Patrick Glover. The podcast can be found here.

Also recently released is the bizarre, yet great Rondo that I described as "an exciting, darkly comedic revenge thriller", and which pays homage to the exploitation films of the 1970's. It is now out on DVD and VOD.

Cautionary Comics have announced Offworlder issue #1 that is 'an Epic Fantasy that mixes History with Science Fiction'. It stars Henry Gunn who is a seventh century Scotsman that gets abducted by an alien race. They want him to stop an evil alien race from conquering the universe. It has been described as 'Highlander in space'. For more details check out the Indiegogo page here.

Drag queen horror film Killer Unicorn has been acquired by Indican Pictures. It is the latest film from director Drew Bolton and writer Jose D. Alvarez. It takes place in the underground dance scene of Brooklyn, New York and is about a serial killer who targets drag queens. It came to theatres in the U.S June 14th, and will be coming to DVD and Digital platforms July 9th.

Terror Films have acquired worldwide rights to ride-share feature horror-thriller End Trip. It features Aaron Jay Rome (who wrote, directed, and produced this) as Brandon, a rideshare driver who picks up Judd (Dean West). The two seem to be striking up a new friendship but for one of them things are about to get dangerous. This was due for release on June 21st, initially in North America on Prime Video and Vudu. Later in the year will see it get released on other platforms, and on DVD.

Gothic/Death Rock band Christian Death have released a new video for their song 'Forgiven'. This comes from their latest album The Root of All Evilution. You can check that out below. Christian Death are currently on tour.

Jeff Payne's (The Pale Faced Lady, Michael Myers Versus Jason Vorhees) is currently working on a sequel to The Pale Faced Lady. I said of that short film that there were not any surprises to be found, it was also slightly experimental with how the story was told. The sequel sounds like it will be traditional as it is to focus on one character and takes place in real time, as opposed to the almost fairytale style story of the first one. Payne is a genius when it comes to editing so I look forward to seeing if this can build on the ideas of the first film.

Small Town Monsters have revealed a first look at their new docudrama MOMO: The Missouri Monster. This intends to tell the real life story of the titular creature. It was said to be a hair covered three-toed creature that prowled the forests of Star Hill during the summer of 1972.

I had originally planned to end this months news post here, but in the past week I have received some more info about cool new things and so hot off the press...

Creature Feature Weekend is coming to Gettysburg this August. This is a new horror convention that is going to run from 30th August to 1st September. Confirmed special guests include among them Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander (The Lost Boys), Joe Bob Briggs (The Last Drive-In), Glen Ennis (Freddy vs Jason), Tom Woodruff (Aliens, Pumpkinhead), Billy Bryan (Army of Darkness, Ghostbusters) and Walter Phelan (House of 1,000 Corpses, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight). If you're interested tickets can be brought here.

The only information I have for this next one is a title - Vampyrz on a Boat, and going by the trailer this seems like an accurate description of what the film will involve. This one comes from Firebreathing Films.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Alien3 (1992) - Sci-fi Horror Film Review (2003 Assembly Cut)

Alien3 has had a bad rap over the years, and not without good reason. This was a movie that was plagued with no end of problems throughout it's troubled production, from extensive script rewrites, to bickering amongst crew, to going completely over budget, this had it all. Director David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl) has never gone back to Alien3 and so there wasn't a definitive director's cut, however 2003 saw the release of the 'Assembly Cut' that based a lot of its changes and reworks on what Fincher's original vision for the movie had been. This cut clocks in at 145 minutes, as opposed to the theatrical run time of 114 minutes.

Following on a few weeks (or possibly even days) after the end of Aliens, the film starts with an escape pod crashing on prison planet Fiorina 161. A xenomorph had managed to get on the ship Ripley (Sigourney Weaver - Alien, Aliens), Hicks, young Newt, and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen - Aliens, Near Dark) had used to escape the alien infested planet from the last film, and had caused its destruction. Ripley is rescued by the former inmates of the prison, who now live there as a religious commune. She is informed that she was tragically the only one to survive the crash. However a chesthugger also survived and has created a new type of xenomorph. Trapped on a weaponless planet Ripley and the inmates must come up with a way to destroy the creature before it kills them all...

I had only seen Alien3 once before and had found it to be very boring. I really wasn't expecting much going back, but honestly, it is not as bad as I remembered. I particularly liked the set design, and while this can be a little slow going at times there is a good sense of atmosphere and bleakness to be found here. That opening of all the survivors of Aliens getting unceremoniously wiped off still leaves a bad taste though. I understand the reasoning but it felt like a snub to the story of the previous film. I have heard it said that one of the reasons Alien3 failed critically was that it ignored the more gung-ho approach of the second film and tried to recreate the slow tension of Alien. Trying to create mystery about a xenomorph that is now a known property was seen as a bad move. However I actually like this aspect of the film. Having Ripley armed with knowledge of how the creatures work, teaming up with a whole band of capable followers led to some exciting scenes. Having to come up with occasionally Scooby-Doo levels of convoluted plans to trap the monstrous killer was pretty fun on occasion.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia is a short seven minute horror that was co-directed by Shane Ryan (Oni-gokko, My Name is 'A' by Anonymous) and Lilith Singson (Kamatayan) who also stars in this. As the title suggests it is made up of two halves, both that feature the same actress. This is an experimental film, as such it wasn't really my thing as I didn't really understand what it was going for.

'Chapter 1 = Her Life' takes up roughly half the short. It is a series of fast edits of two people covered in blood, throughout this it goes back to someone laying on the ground seemingly dying as a woman plays around with the blood on their face. 'Chapter 2 = Her Death' follows the girl from the first part as she walks around a forest, this part is shot in black and white.

Yeah, as I said I really didn't understand this much. There are some nice shots in chapter 1, there is great use of focus, and some strong images, such as how it ends with the woman looking tripped out staring into the camera. Looking up the title's meaning, dacryphilia is a term for one who is aroused by tears or sobbing, hematolagnia meanwhile is a sexual arousal by blood, which I guess explains chapter 1 a little better for me. While not much really happens in chapter 2 it was shot in an attractive way, and features a fantastic final flickering image of the woman in silhouette as this strange insect like sound effect plays.

Despite not really getting the message here I found Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia to be an interesting short that is backed up by some strong editing and some strong imagery, as well as a healthy amount of blood and some nicely lit scenes. This was something I initially didn't think I liked, yet found myself strangely drawn back to it again and again the days after first viewing it.


Monday, 24 June 2019

Boo (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

I first heard of Rakefet Abergel when I saw 2017's award winning Jax in Love in which she not only wrote the story, but also starred as the psychotic loner Jax travelling the backroads of America looking for love. She is now back with her latest film which again she wrote, and stars in, but which also marks her directorial debut. Boo is a fifteen minute horror about how addiction is not only harmful to you, but those you love also (and is not to be confused with the terrible feature length Boo from 2005).

Jared (Josh Kelly - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) arrives to pick up his fiancee Devi (Abergel) from her weekly AA meeting, but is shocked to find her panicked and covered in blood. As he drives her home flashbacks reveal just what happened to put her into such a state.

I'm a sucker for stories that start in the present and then go back in time to show how events led up to that point and so it was a pleasure to see that used here, at least for the first half before that has all been explained. I really liked how this was told, rather than just one long sequence you are instead given little bites that have a natural flow to them. Whenever Devi gets triggered in the present we then get to see how that relates to what she has gone through. So when she inhales deeply to get her breathing under control we then see her standing outside the AA meeting with friends while she inhales the smoke from a cigarette. Then later when Jared goes to touch her she recoils and we then get to see exactly why she is reacting that way.

Abergel gives a great central performance and gives a great contrast between her normal self when she is hanging with her friends, and the frenzied panic stricken mess she becomes. It was also nice that her upset part was varied rather than being one note, it made her seem like a more believable character. The rest of the cast also were great in their roles, I enjoyed the conversation her and two women have (played by Laura Wiggins - Shameless, and Parisa Fitz-Henley - Luke Cage) which gives the first hints that maybe things aren't exactly what they seem. It might have been obvious there would be some kind of twist, and even what sort of twist that would be, but it was still fun to see how the story gets there.

Boo follows the trend of more women in horror, and films in general, it is always good to see a female take on horror, and this went more so with it stated that over 50% of the cast and crew were female. For me personally this felt like a step up from Jax in Love, I enjoyed the more condensed story, and the format with how it was shown. A take on an old idea, but one that was entertaining from start to finish.


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Clinton Road (2019) - Horror Film Review

I liked the idea behind Clinton Road (directed by Richard Grieco and Steve Stanulis) even if it didn't exactly sound original. A group of friends lost out in the woods can make for a decent horror. However it soon becomes clear that just like the protagonists here, the film itself is a bit lost and doesn't really know what it wants to do, and ends up just being a bit of an incoherent mess. What is good though is that Clinton Road is actually a real life road in New Jersey, and is said to be one of the most haunted roads in America. Apparently a lot of the accounts and events here are based on real life stories of things people have experienced there.

A year after his wife went missing while travelling on the notorious Clinton Road, Michael (Ace Young), along with his sister-in-law Isabella (Katie Morrison - School Spirits), his new girlfriend Kayla (Lauren LaVera - Iron Fist), and best friend Tyler (Cody Calafiore) head there, along with psychic Begory (James DeBello - Cabin Fever) and his girlfriend. Michael and Isabella hope that the psychic will be able to give them some closure, instead his connection to the spirit world turns out to be an accidental gateway for all the evil spirits haunting the road to come through to attack the group.

After a star studded start that occurs in a nightclub run by Rj (Ice-T - Bloodrunners), and which felt like it existed only to show off some cameos we head to the woods. It was only later that I came to appreciate this first act. On the one hand it is a jarring contrast to the dark and silent woods, but it also is the only part of the film that feels cohesive. The friends arrive at the woods and within moments all conveniently get separated from each other, barely to ever meet up for the rest of the movie. This leads to three different plots going on, each following a pair as they experience spooky stuff. Tyler and Kayla end up by a river, their sleazy interactions with each other made me think for sure they were going to get up to no good, but that isn't the case. Instead there is a weird sequence that doesn't really get resolved, the movie rarely goes back to these characters. The same happens for Begory and his girlfriend. The reason for everyone splitting up is that the psychic has some kind of fit which gives him visions of all the evil around them. This happens during the day time yet it is soon inexplicably night with him still just sat around not really doing much. This felt like another wasted storyline in that nothing much happens at all. It is Michael and Isabella who become the main focus, which I guess makes sense due to their connection to Clinton Road.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Black Summer (2019) - Zombie Horror TV Show Review

It seems lately there has been a real shift in the love affair people in general have had with the undead. First there has been no end of complaints about The Walking Dead with people saying it had gotten stale and dull. Next earlier in the year the fantastic open world survival game Days Gone released to critics apathy, and now after having finished watching the fantastic Netflix series Black Summer I was dismayed to see that the majority of the reviews were less than favourable. Once again I have to battle against the negativity and proclaim this is something that needs to be watched.

Black Summer takes place a couple of months after a global zombie outbreak and follows a series of survivors over the course of a couple of hellish days. Uninfected people had been kept within a military safe zone and are due for evacuation, the evacuation point being a football stadium in downtown. On the day this transfer is meant to happen a whole bunch of different people miss the military transports and have to band together to make the perilous journey to the stadium on foot. These include among them Rose (Jaime King - My Bloody Valentine, Sin City) who got seperated from her young daughter during the move, a criminal (Justin Chu Cary) who has taken on the identity of a soldier he killed named Spears, a young Asian woman named Sun (Christine Lee) who doesn't speak a word of English, and the cowardly Lance (Kelsey Flower).

I can't remember who said this but what they said was very fitting and so I will include it here. Before watching Black Summer I read that it was basically if the first five insane minutes of the Dawn of the Dead remake had been stretched out into an entire series. This is the perfect explanation for what is going on here as from beginning to end this is near enough one intense and crazy adventure to reach the stadium. What a lot of people don't realise is that Black Summer is actually a prequel spin-off from zombie apocalypse comedy Z Nation. I'm not surprised this wasn't made more known though as the tone for this and that is like chalk and cheese. Black Summer is serious and horror filled with zero allowances for humour. Over the course of eight increasingly shorter episodes (roughly, ranging from around fifty minutes to the season finale that takes up just twenty) we follow a whole host of characters over several days. Even in such a short time frame the core group loses and gains members with no one seeming to be safe. By seasons end characters I would never expect to be killed off are so, sometimes in the most coldest of ways.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Killing Death (2008) - Comedy Horror Film Review

The Killing Death (directed and written by Ian Russell) is a low budget comedy horror that was inspired by the films of the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!). Lewis was credited for creating the 'splatter' subgenre of horror films, a genre that focuses on gore and graphic violence. As is always the way I avoided reading anything about this film before watching it but was pleasantly surprised to find that the shoe string budget didn't get in the way of what is for the most part quite the funny movie.

Seasoned detective Frank (Jeremy Dangerfield - R.L. Stine's The Haunting Tour) and his rookie partner Jimmy (Tyhr Trubiak - Tempus Tormentum) are investigating a series of grisly murders that have taken place around the city they work in one long night. At each crime scene a victim has had a different body part removed. Meanwhile crazed pizza delivery guy Phil (Neil Reimer) is on a mission to collect ingredients for a very special pizza he is making...

The joy of not reading anything about this before watching was that it took me a little while to realise this was a comedy. I thought the script was very corny but it soon become very apparent this was of course on purpose. This is a film that starts off almost as a straight horror but becomes more and more farcical as it goes along. Leading this comedic adventure is Dangerfield who gets the most ridiculous lines, speaking mainly in tired cliches. His inept detective work, as well as his look, and the way he speaks really reminded me of Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin from Police Squad, in fact the only thing missing was him also giving narration. Much of the humour comes from the dialogue between the characters, usually between Frank and the straight man that is Jimmy. An early example of an exchange between them: "Sure is a nice night" "For a murder" "...I meant there wasn't a lot of traffic" "A quiet street hides a killer, never forget that Jimmy" "but we're in a suburb" "Hell is a suburb, where all the bad guys hang out together". The Killing Dead is littered with such ridiculous conversations throughout that on at least two different occasions made me laugh out loud. The highlight of this was a scene involving Jimmy interviewing a very jaded janitor.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

I Am Evil Brain Taste (2019) by Evil Brain Taste - Zombie Music EP Review

Back in 2015 I became aware of UK thrash/death/black metal band Evil Brain Taste when I was sent the video to 'The Taste of Evil Brains' that was taken off their debut album Dead Dead Bad. I enjoyed the song so much that I went and brought that album. Well  they have recently put out some new music - a six track EP titled I Am Evil Brain Taste that was released on 31st May. Even better is that it is currently free to listen to on YouTube. I don't often review music so I hope you can at least take the feeling I got from listening to this, even if I don't know how to explain how the music actually sounds.

Send More Paramedics were one of my favourite bands back when they were still un-living, and so I have a lot of time for any similar style of music that rises, especially when the band members are all of the undead variety! The members consist of Bone - vocals, Stench - guitars, Chot - Bass, and Legg - drums. As can be inferred by everything said so far this band are not about tackling serious issues, but instead just produce music that is not only entertaining and silly, but which is also actually competent and played to a satisfying degree.

First track on Evil Brain Taste's latest EP is 'The Day When Everything Became About Brains' which is a glorious five minute instrumental held together from various soundbites detailing zombie apocalypse. Starting off with news reports of the dead walking it leads up to a final desperate message from a man under siege wondering if he is the last human alive on Earth.
Next up is three minute titular track 'I Am Evil Brain Taste' that is the first we hear of frontman Bone's almost whisper like growling singing style. I have to say I was impressed with the quality of the recording on this EP, I did kind of expect muddy production but everything is crisp and clear to hear with the rotting vocals coming through for the most part clear.
Following this is the excellent 'Spider Bath' that again comes in at around three minutes. Like the rest of their songs this has a really great chugging style to the guitar work, the lyrics that contain such lines as "you can take the bath out the spider, can't take the spider out the bath" work so much better than they should, and actually imparts a sensible message about how stupid it is to be scared of the mostly harmless creatures.

Onto the second half of the album now with 'Terinator' that is about the funny tale of someone recounting how they used to draw pictures based on VHS covers as a child, but one day made the traumatic mistake of missing out the letter M when drawing the cover for The Terminator. This has a nice energetic chorus and a fun little soundbite paraphrasing Arnie "If you're alive you are coming with me". Again what I love about this style of music is the chugging guitar, it makes the songs feel like they could go on indefinitely in the best way.
'Ghosts' follows this and unsurprisingly is about ghosts, specifically hunting for them. It has some old style spooky music blended in, and no end of entertaining lyrics, such as "ghosts - are they in the cupboard, ghosts - is it just thin air?".
Final track ends on an undead note again with 'Ultimate Zombie' which eventually leads into a great riff that wouldn't have sounded out of place with the original version of the Doom video game.

I Am Evil Brain Taste is an enjoyable 22 minutes of zombie death metal that in my humble opinion is well worth a listen. There sadly are not too many good bands that do this style nowadays. I will include the link to the EP below so check it out if it appeals.


Friday, 14 June 2019

Ma (2019) - Horror Film Review

Now that I no longer work Mondays I figured I would do a double bill at the cinema due to two different horror films being out at the moment. Ma was the first film, with Godzilla: King of the Monsters being the second one I saw. As such my memory may be a little on some details of this one, though I did make some notes immediately afterwards. Now I really wasn't taken with the idea behind this one, the trailer didn't appeal to me, but it needed a review on my blog so I went along anyway. Having seen it, it isn't my type of film...but it is better than I expected it to be.

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train, The Help, and who also had a bit part here) this horror is about a lonely woman called Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water, Halloween II) who befriends a group of high school teens after agreeing to buy alcohol for them one day. She decides to let them, and all their friends use her basement at her remote house as a place to come to get high, get drunk, and have crazy parties. These friends include Maggie (Diana Silvers) who has recently moved to the area, as well as Andy, Chaz, Haley and Darrell. Things start off well with many a good time had, but there is a sinister side to Sue Ann, or 'Ma' as she likes to be known. As the group starts to see this hidden side of her they try to distance themselves, but the more they do this the more twisted and obsessive she gets.

I often like to hear what people say about the films I watch as I leave the cinema, and the key comment I heard here was that 'it took a while to get going'. I think I would agree with that. There is a gradual build up of events happening, but it is back loaded into the final third when things really reach the station known as Horror Town. From the off though it is obvious that Ma has something wrong with her, with her behind the scenes manipulations plainly shown. Spencer actually did a great job with her here, the film delights in the moments when she goes from looking happy to psychotically angry as quick as a switch being flipped. She in a way carries this film far more than the bland and underdeveloped teenage cast. Moments such as the awkward and uncomfortable video messages she leaves the group really build her up as unsettling. I guess main lead Silvers does a good enough job, I kinda liked the interactions with Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) who plays her mum, but her character really isn't anything special. The teens all act like sacrifices to a story that ends up being far more about the adults of the small town Ma is set in. In particular aside from Spencer herself it was Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies) who was the real stand out. His role may have only been that of a side character but I liked his portrayal of a former school bully now grown up.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Tattooist (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Malaysian director Michael Wong's The Tattooist is a micro short, coming in at just over a minute long. Rather than tell a cohesive story it acts more like a trailer for a bigger idea. Obviously with such a short length this isn't going to be the longest review.

A tattooist (Wang Yanhu) is known for his stunning work, however he has a dark side to him. For those who receive his best work are drugged and imprisoned in a Hostel style torture palace. Admittedly I got the plot not from the short itself, but by the accompanying blurb, though the trailer does a great job of showing this divide.

Starting off is a sweep through a clean and sterile tattoo parlour, jaunty music by Found In The Attic plays as we see the artist working on a girl. Then with a break with what seems to be the film footage burning up a quick succession of edited scenes of carnage play out in an art house style way. People screaming in cages, someone about to get a hammer to the face, a girl being dragged down a hallway by her hair. Then suddenly we are pack in the parlour, the jaunty music starts back up as the camera slowly pans away from the joyfully dancing artist.

I really liked the divide between the two disparate scenes, between the peacefulness of the attractive parlour to the Hell like dark and dank bloody rooms. For having no dialogue at all (unless you count screaming as dialogue) this makes its intentions clear, and the music alone adds so much character to this. It shows that even with such a small running time it is possible to really get an idea across, The Tattooist really is a fun little ride.


Monday, 10 June 2019

The Bedwetter: Journal of a Budding Psychopath (2019) by Lee Allen Howard - Horror Book Review

From the very first page of Lee Allen Howard's The Bedwetter: Journal of a Budding Psychopath I was repulsed; a graphic description of a sordid dream featuring urination, self pleasuring, and death. But then the clue is in the books title, this is written from the twisted perspective of a psycho and so this opener was like a statement of intent for the course the book would chart. It's not new to have a story told by a terrible person, ones such as Hubert Selby Jr's The Demon, and of course Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho (of which this sometimes feels similar to). Despite that though it is done rarely enough that it sticks out from the more traditional tales.

Russell Pisarek is a damaged twenty-six year old both haunted and shaped by the awful abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother as a child. He works at an animal testing laboratory and shares a house with his sister Becky and her young son Aiden, but is lost, and prone to frequent uncontrollable fits of anger. Over the course of The Bedwetter he comes to realise his true sinister calling in life and sets out on a murderous path from which there is no returning.

There's no getting away from the fact that Russell is a truly nasty protagonist but the book goes at least some way to clearly explain why he happens to be this way. The abuse he suffered shaped him, and as such he is trapped. Coming from his viewpoint you can at least see why he is like he is even if you find his actions disgusting. It would have been easy to make a one dimensional villain, but this past makes Russell into someone more fleshed out. This is all told via conversations he has with family members, frequent dreams and nightmares that plague him, and his own dark thoughts. While I could never get on board with his actions, at least with the thoughts he provides you can kind of understand his reasoning for them.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) - Fantasy Film Review

2014's Godzilla somehow managed to be as dull as dishwater, the only things I really remember about it was sitting there wondering how you could make a giant monster movie and have so little of the giant monster in it, and noticing a couple bringing in their newborn baby to the cinema, only to leave around fifteen minutes later with the screaming infant, presumably after it's eardrums were ruptured by the loud screeching and wailings in that movie. Still I had heard that Godzilla: King of the Monsters was actually a lot better and so I was prepared to give it another chance. To be truthful I didn't even realise this was a sequel to that first one, but it is, and apparently part of the 'monster-verse' or whatever they are calling it, along with Kong: Skull Island from 2017.

King of the Monsters takes place four years after the events of the first film which left San Francisco a smoking ruin. Giant monsters, or 'Titans' as they are called here are now known to the world, which struggles to decide how to deal with this emergence of super beasts. During that disaster Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga - The Conjuring films, Bates Motel) and her then husband Mark (Kyle Chandler - Super 8, King Kong) had developed a device that allowed Titans to be pacified. Now in the present day an eco-terrorist organisation led by Jonah Alan (Charles Dance - Game of Thrones, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) kidnap Emma, as well as her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown - Stranger Things) in order to use her knowledge of the device to wake-up the many Titans in a state of hibernation around the globe.

So if you came to this expecting an intelligent, sensible movie you obviously came to the wrong place. This is a special effects laden disaster movie that thankfully features not only no end of giant monsters fighting each other, but also a whole bucketful of monsters. It's a globe trotting adventure fantasy that takes in such disparate locations such as Antarctica, Mexico, Boston, and even ancient underwater cities. Switch your brain off for the ride and you will be in for a treat. For whatever reason giant monster movies are something I always manage to find dull. With a two hour running time I will admit around twenty minutes before this was over I did start to get kind of bored. That isn't to say this is boring though as there is no end of crazy shenanigans going on. Of the many, many human characters it is the monsters obviously who are the stars of the show. While the cast of characters feature a whole bunch of recognisable faces they for the most part serve no real purpose other than serve as walking talking commentators on the monsters all battling each other. I'm not sure how many actors returned from Godzilla (three apparently), but who did for sure is Ken Watanabe (Godzilla, Inception) who reprises his role as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. He was the stand out character on the human side, and he is rewarded with what is perhaps my favourite scene of the whole movie. Early on there are twists with good characters becoming bad, that was interesting. Less so is Dance whose bad guy role isn't anything special, so much so that he disappears two thirds through, assumedly returning in a future movie in the franchise.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Shed of the Dead (2019) - Zombie Comedy Horror Film Review

I had high hopes for British indie comedy zombie horror Shed of the Dead. It has a host of iconic actors, a familiar style of humour to that most famous of British zombie comedies, and of course the flesh hungry brain eaters themselves. However, rather than try and stamp out its own identity, director and writer Drew Cullingham (Umbrage: The First Vampire, The Devil's Bargain) is happy to just try and copy what has come before, but to a far less successful extent.

Unemployed thirty something slacker Trevor (Spencer Brown - Nathan Barley) spends his days in his shed at his allotment painting his miniatures for his fantasy wargaming, mostly in order to avoid his wife Bobbi (Lauren Socha). One day zombie apocalypse comes suddenly to his part of the world in London, eventually realising this he teams up with his best friend Graham (Ewen MacIntosh - The Office) and together they head back to Trevor's house in order to see if his wife, and her best friend Harriett (Emily Booth - Doghouse, Evil Aliens) are still among the living.

The fact that this so closely follows the template of Shaun of the Dead wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if this managed to do it to a competent enough level, but everything here just feels slightly off, like a jaded and twisted version of that classic. Simon Pegg's Shaun was a lazy idiot, but he was a character that you actually cared about, he had character development, with the apocalypse the event he needed to really turn his life around. Trevor on the other hand is a lazy idiot with a mean streak to him, and possible sociopathic tendencies. Before zombies even make an appearance he gets into an argument with his allotment neighbour Mr. Parsons (Kane Hodder - Friday 13th series, the Hatchet series) resulting (mild spoiler) in the man's accidental death. Showing no concern or guilt, and with little reasoning he decides rather than alert the police he is going to chop up the man's body and bury it in his allotment. This early insight into his character just repelled me completely, I really hoped he would have an arc where he would grow and develop, but instead he remains self centred, verbally aggressive, and plain nasty throughout, showing no concern for those around him at all. Graham on the other hand not only looks like Nick Frost, but his character is almost identical to how his character Ed acts in Shaun, with the unwelcome addition of being obsessed with Harriett in a way that was uncomfortable to watch. It's like they saw those two characters and wanted to replicate them, but didn't understand what fundamentally made them lovable idiots, as opposed to just idiots.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Days Gone (2019) - Zombie Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

I haven't seen such a disconnect between video game journalists and fans as there is with Days Gone for a long long time. I had pre-ordered this game but scanning reviews the day before it released I was dismayed to see across the board it was getting average reviews, many critics saying the game was simply boring. In the weeks since it has came out though I have yet to see anyone who has played it who has in any ways been disappointed. I don't know if it was due to tight deadlines that led to reviewers zooming through Days Gone as fast as possible being the root cause, or some other baffling reason, but for me, playing the game at a leisurely pace I had an absolute blast and would readily recommend it to one and all. It is a shame to read reader comments after the various reviews thanking the reviewers for saving them from picking this up when in reality they are really missing out on a gem of a game.

This takes place in Oregon two years after a zombie apocalypse occurred that left the vast population of the world either dead or turned into flesh hungry ghouls termed by the survivors as 'freakers'. Biker Deacon St. John (voiced by Sam Witwer - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) and his best friend and fellow biker Boozer work as bounty hunters for the various friendly camps, though they have aspirations of riding north to start fresh somewhere new. During the initial outbreak Deacon was separated from his wife Sarah (voiced by Courtnee Draper - Bioshock: Infinite) after she was airlifted to supposed safety on a NERO (National Emergency Response Organisation) helicopter after being stabbed, however upon arriving at the camp where she was being taken he and Boozer found it in ruins and full of freakers, so she is assumed to be dead. The game begins with the two bikers plans to ride north nearly finalised, however this is thwarted after Deacon's bike is stolen and dismantled for parts. While he does jobs in order to get the funds and parts to rebuild a new bike he comes into contact with a violent and deranged cult nicknamed 'Rippers', whose mysterious leader seems to have a particular sinister interest in him and Boozer for reasons unknown...

Wow, this was a great game. To sum it up lazily it plays like a cross between The Last of Us, [Prototype] and Mad Max with a little bit of World War Z thrown in. The Last of Us feel comes from the environment itself, the world building here is spot on. Despite its open world nature it comes close at times to the tightly designed areas of that level based masterpiece, this world feels logical, and that includes how the enemies operate. Like that other game the main enemy here are not zombies, but instead the other groups of human survivors, with bandits, rogue militia, and cultists the main threat encountered. The [Prototype] influence is slight, but mostly comes from the audio recordings discovered around the game world that share a similar serious vibe to the ones from that po-faced game.  The Mad Max part comes from not only the look of the cultists (whose self inflicted injuries, and shaved heads reminded me a lot of the War Boys from that game), but also from how integral your vehicle is here. Both games start with the ideal version of your vehicle being stolen and broken down, with a lot of the R.P.G elements revolving around you buying better upgrades to repair it. Deacon's motorbike is essential for traversing the large open world, and as you progress it becomes faster, more durable, and able to hold more and more ammo. Finally World War Z is felt by the way the zombies operate.