Sunday, 22 September 2019

Blasphemous (2019) - Horror Video Game Review (Nintendo Switch)

From the very first moment I set eyes on metroidvania action game Blasphemous I just knew that regardless of quality it was something I just had to play. I loved the pixel graphics, and I thought the gothic look was amazing. So as soon as it came out I snapped it up on the Nintendo Switch, and thankfully it turned out to be a damn stunner.

The story here is never explicitly explained, what story there is I pieced together from cutscenes, as well as the lore that can be read for most the items you get in the game. I'm sure my summary is incorrect, but I am purposefully putting my own thoughts as to what is going on, rather than researching it. Blasphemous takes place in a world where religious apocalypse has come to pass. Fervent religious belief has manifested in the form of the coming of 'miracles' which have corrupted the peoples of the land in a variety of ways. It seems the most pure of heart have been transformed into living statues, while the most corrupt have been judged as guilty and changed into murderous versions of their former selves. You play as 'The Penitent One', a mask wearing man who sets out on a quest to bring about an end to the time of miracles.

The metroidvania style of 2D platformer is one of my favourite styles of games, yet I have found that the tone is really important for my enjoyment. Take Hollow Knight for instance, that is a wonderful game, and yet I haven't played it in months, the insect theme not really appealing too much. Then there is Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night which was touted as a replacement for the much missed Castlevania games. While that is a delightful game, and does feel like a homage to that series that is another that I have not played in some time despite being deep into it. With Blasphemous I adored the game world, the dark gothic look with overt religious themes to the landscapes and enemies you face, it felt like a video game that would have been created had there been such things in Medieval times. The game world is a dark and moody place, this came across at times like a 2D Bloodborne. This is fitting as there are many elements that have had people calling this very Dark Souls in style.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

A Young Man with High Potential (2019) - Horror Film Review

Linus de Paoli's A Young Man with High Potential is a German thriller that was hard to watch for reasons different to normal. The story here revolves around real horror as opposed to anything paranormal or monstrous, and the hard to watch feeling comes from being forced to become an unwilling voyeur, carried along for the dark ride.

Adam Ild Rohweder stars as Piet, a socially awkward introvert who lives on campus at Bauer University. One day he is approached by Klara (Paulina Galazka - The Lure) to team up for a class project, which he ends up unwittingly agreeing to. Being so unused to female attention Piet soon falls for the girl, but is distraught when she rejects his advances. Then one fateful evening she arrives at his apartment to apologise, which puts in motion a chain of terrible events that will forever change Piet.

Being an introvert myself, albeit one with better social skills I found myself at first identifying slightly with the main lead, which makes what happens all the more uncomfortable. The prologue has an investigator, Ketura (Amanda Plummer - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pulp Fiction) meeting up with Piet where it is straight away revealed that Klara has not only gone missing, but later turned up dead. Ketura believes that what Piet told the police was not entirely true. The rest of the film, with the exception of the final scene then goes back in time to reveal exactly what happened. I always like this type of storytelling as it is a way of giving purposeful spoilers in order to hook the viewer into needing to know what has occured. The majority of the movie takes place over one night, at times I wanted to sink into my chair, at others I had my face covered and holding my breath. For a thriller this does it what it sets out to do, with me finding what was going on abhorrent, yet at the same time forced by Piet being the main lead to have some sort of empathy for this damaged individual.

Friday, 20 September 2019

It: Chapter 2 (2019) - Horror Film Review

I was surprised to realise that it had been two years since Andy Muschietti's (Mama) adaptation of Stephen King's It had been released. Though it didn't seem as if it had been that long I did realise that my memory of that first film was a little woolly. I didn't have time to get around to re-watching that one so had to settle for a quick read through of its Wikipedia plot summary before It: Chapter 2 began. I really enjoyed that first film but was aware that I had been caught up on the hype train a bit. For this second one I'm out the loop enough that I'm not even aware if there was a hype train this time around.

Having seen the 1990 mini series of It I had a fairly good idea of where this second chapter would go, and it certainly all started familiarly enough. This picks up 27 years after the events of the first film in which a group of small town misfits banded together to defeat the monstrous being known as It (Bill Skarsgard) . They had made a pledge that should the creature ever return then they will reunite to stop it once again. During the decades the friends have drifted apart, with only Mike (Isaiah Mustafa - Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments) staying in Derry, obsessed with finding signs of It's re-emergence. Once he does he contacts the old group; Beverley (Jessica Chastain - Mama), Bill (James McAvoy - Split, Atomic Blonde), Richie (Bill Hader), Ben (Jay Ryan), Eddie (James Ransone - Sinister, Sinister 2), and Stanley (Andy Bean) hoping the group can meet up to stop the creature once and for all.

The intention of how violent the world of this film can be is displayed straight away in the brutal prologue in which two gay men are attacked quite viciously. That reminded me that the first film also never made an attempt to keep the physicality of attacks reigned in. Scenes like this are few and far between with the majority of the horror here being the various situations the characters find themselves in. The first half of the movie has each of the friends going off on their own little quests. This boils down to a series of side stories with each character getting in a different scary situation. Beverley, returning to her childhood friend gets attacked by a huge monstrous granny for instance, while Ben revisiting the school he used to attend comes under assault by a flaming demonic version of Beverley. I enjoyed these little sections, but this first half suffered a little by having the cast conveniently separated. It was the second half in which the friends are reunited that I found much more enjoyable. Due to the special effects fest that this is I was never scared at what was happening, this was endlessly inventive though with it being a joy to watch.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Revenge of the Slasher (2018) - Short Comedy Horror Film Review

Revenge of the Slasher is a short award winning comedy horror that is Julian Hoffman's directorial debut, and which was also written by him, as him and Zac Spiegalman coming up with the story. While this is most certainly a comedy it is never so over the top as to get in the way of the entertaining story.

After Ernie 'The Autumn Hill Killer' (Spiegalman)'s latest rampage at Camp Autumn Hill is stopped by final girl Joey (Catherine Brown) he dejectedly returns home to face the anger of his disappointed wife. Two days later and Joey decides against the better judgement of her best friend to start enjoying the bad things in life, and begins a cycle of alcohol, drugs and partying. Meanwhile Ernie after the breakdown of his relationship decides to really be committed to being the best killer he can, and sets out to take revenge on the person who he sees as the cause for his misfortune.

While Revenge of the Slasher is based on the slasher genre as a whole, it is most specifically the Friday 13th series that this takes inspiration from, due to the lakeside area Ernie kills in. While this isn't the first time a comedy horror picks up after the 'final battle' of a killing spree (the book Larry by Adam Millard springs to mind) it is handled in a way I enjoyed quite a lot. For a silent antagonist I felt a lot of sympathy for Ernie, which is helped by his bumbling nature, such as during a training montage of him practising axe moves, but constantly dropping the axe and tripping over. I also liked how the Joey side of the short plays out, with the two characters lives affecting each other without them actually meeting up. Perhaps my favourite scene is when Ernie is in the background killing someone by the docks at night, while Joey in the foreground drunkenly shouts abuse at him out of earshot.

Often comedy horror films have an over reliance on terrible jokes that just fall flat, and there are at least one or two moments here. The main way this short shines is by the way Ernie is made into the main character of this, the humanising scenes become funny because while going through all these human emotions Ernie is still an axe wielding masked madman, so the contrast works well. There is also a large body count which is helped along by some decent enough special effects, some good editing, while special mention must go to the lovely soundtrack.

Revenge of the Slasher is a charming 23 minutes of nostalgic fun that rarely falters, managing to be a entertaining homage to 80's slashers, as well as a pretty funny short in its own right. This is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and several other countries.


Monday, 16 September 2019

The Dark Days of Demetrius (2019) - Horror Film Review

Indie exploitation director Dakota Ray (American Antichrist, The Acid Sorcerer) is back with his sixth feature length film, this one titled The Dark Days of Demetrius. With Ray you always know what you are going to get, and that is a delightfully twisted tale that takes place in the dark underbelly of American society. All the usual things you would expect in his films are here, from violence against animals, insects and the homeless, to prostitutes, drugs, senseless murder, and of course Ray in a leading role.

Ray stars as Demetrius, a serial killer who has been given the nickname 'The Live Stream Killer' by the media, due to him putting up videos of his kills on the internet. Being a narcissist and hoping for more attention he contacts corrupt news reporter Clive (Fred Epstein - American Scumbags) to give an interview, but the reporter wants to use this story for his own ends. Meanwhile a copycat killer calling himself Baphomet (Sebastian Oake who also co-produced the film) rises up in order to get his chance to shine.

Normally with these films you get a series of interconnected stories that feature a whole host of miscreants doing their own thing. Dark Days felt like a much more traditional way to tell a story, with Demetrius getting the vast majority of the screen time during this hour long movie. With this character you get a lot of narration of his thoughts and beliefs, there is even a flashback to his childhood to shed some light on how he is the way he is, and some dream sequences whereby he likens himself to God. While the parts featuring Clive and Baphomet are separate they did feel more like subplots, than their own little movies. At first I wasn't sure about Epstein as Clive, his dialogue seemed a bit over the top, but then I soon realised this is very purposeful, he became my favourite character mainly due to the devilishly evil way he would grin at the laptop screen as he writes his sensationalist stories, with his eyes wide with excitement.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Tabernacle 101 (2019) - Horror Film Review

Tabernacle 101 is an Australian supernatural thriller that was produced, written and directed by Colm O'Murchu. While at times the frequently cheesy special effects and somewhat annoying main lead threaten to derail this, that same cheese also makes this into something that feels weirdly wholesome.

Frank (David Hov) is the atheist host of an online show that goes around debunking spirit mediums and various religious beliefs. He is a man of science and believes that any talk of the afterlife is ridiculous. After his partner on his show; scientist Sarah (Elly Hiraani Clapin - Bad Karma) manages to find a way to bring the recently deceased back to life, Frank jumps at the chance to have the experiment performed on himself. He believes if he is able to die and then come back he will be able to prove to the world that there is nothing when you die. The experiment goes ahead, and a triumphant Frank returns to life happy in the knowledge that what he thought was true was correct. However he starts to experience unexplainable events; strange figures that only he can see appearing, and objects moving around on their own, and slowly starts to realise that he has been wrong all these years. Teaming up with psychic Meredith (Mikaela Franco) he discovers the experiment he was a part of managed to open the door to the afterlife, and now demonic forces have invaded Earth set on causing chaos.

So watching Tabernacle 101 I was reminded of a whole host of other films covering a similar topic, quite a few of which I hoped never to be reminded of. The 2017 version of Flatliners has a very similar story of an experiment of going to the afterlife that leads to dark entities following the characters back. This felt like a low budget version of that. Other films that this also brought to mind was the truly awful Hereafter, as well as the pretty darn good We Go On. So in terms of originality this can't be said to stand out too much. What this does have that none of those movies did is an overwhelming feeling of wholesomeness. That is itself an accomplishment in a film that features demonic possession, some violent deaths, and even Satan! There was just a feeling of innocence to what occurs here, whether that be the charmingly average CGI, or the relationships between the characters, I can't quite place.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Marvel Zombies 3 (2008-2009) - Horror Graphic Novel Review

I was really not sure about the direction that the third series of Marvel Zombies comics would go. I knew that the story here didn't follow on from the cliffhanger ending of Marvel Zombies 2, that one picks up with Marvel Zombies Return that is on my reading list down the line. My concerns was that this third one was either a complete reboot, or was its own separate entity completely. Once I finally got over myself and gave this a read I was delighted that it ties in neatly to what has gone before.

Marvel Zombies 3 was a 4 part mini-series that interestingly takes place both in the Marvel Zombie Universe, but more importantly in the main Marvel Universe, where the events are automatically more important due to being the home of most the heroes and villains of Marvel comics. A team of Z-list super heroes who work for A.R.M.O.R (Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response Agency) are called out to a reported incident of a reality breach in a Louisiana swamp. What they discover are the walking dead, and totally unprepared they nearly get wiped out. It seems zombie Deadpool from a different reality where everyone is infected with an undead virus, has managed to get to this version of Earth with the aim of spreading the disease to all life. After the survivors of this fight manage to stop the outbreak from spreading any further, Morbius, who works at A.R.M.O.R HQ decides a vaccine must be created just in case any more undead manage to find a way to this reality. The only problem is that to do this some volunteers must travel to the zombie reality to get a blood sample from an uninfected human there. Being robots Machine Man and Jocasta are the ones sent, but not everything is as it first appears...

After a very confusing start this soon became a very good graphic novel. To be fair it was confusing because I was impatient to discover if this was in any way related to the other books and so had little patience. The actual story here in the overall timeline is between the first and second books, this occurs around a year after the first book and reveals that there were far more Marvel super heroes and villains still around on Earth than there appeared to be. Here a whole cast of characters live under the rule of zombie Kingpin. I really didn't know who a lot of the characters featured here actually where, if names like The Conquistador, Siege and Machine Man mean anything to you then you are a bigger fan than me. In my anti-defence if a character hasn't turned up in a film then to me they are Z-list. Ones I did recognise that I haven't yet mentioned off the top of my head are Vulture, Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange and Man-Thing.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Stranger Things: Season 3 (2019) - Horror TV Show Review

Last month I finally got around to watching season 2 of Stranger Things and from that I zoomed right into and through the third and currently final season (though a fourth has been confirmed). Stranger Things is a wonderful homage to everything eighties. The second season was great, but I never felt it reached the heights of that first season. I imagined the quality would again slip a tiny bit for the third season. Despite a vaguely downward start this season soon proved to be not only just as exciting as previous ones, but also keeping the amazing humour that led to me laughing out loud on many occasions. There are going to be unavoidable spoilers for previous seasons here.

The year is now 1985 and in the small town of Hawkins a huge shopping mall called 'Starcourt' has appeared, taking away business from the many smaller shops. This season is a lot about the core cast growing up, Mike (Finn Wolfhard - It)  and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown - Godzilla: King of the Monsters) are a couple, as are Lucas and Max, with even Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) claiming to have found a girlfriend while he was away at science camp. All of this has left Will feeling quite lost. The plot this time around is that a group of Russians have secretly infiltrated the town. They know about the gateway to the 'upside down' and they intend to use reopen it. This has the undesired side effect of allowing a part of the Mind Flayer (the big evil in season 2) that got trapped in the real world to become reactivated.

The format of Stranger Things is that there are many different stories going on that eventually meet up for an explosive finale. This season more than any other really separates everyone completely, with characters not even seeing each other for the vast majority of the show. Of these storylines it was the one featuring Steve and Dustin that was my favourite. Season 2 showed what a fantastic odd pairing they were, so to have them off doing their own thing for nearly the whole show was a great idea. Steve is my favourite character, I love how cool he thinks he is compared to how everyone else sees him,  and with him wearing a ridiculous sailor outfit for the whole season this is more evident than ever. The duo get paired up with newcomer Robin (Maya Hawke - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) who is a great new addition, as well as Lucas's sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) who up to this point had just been a side character only appearing in a few episodes. These parts include some of the most funny scenes, such as hilarious call backs to things that have occured in previous seasons, and a very funny rendition of The Neverending Story theme song at a most inopportune time.
Another story going on that is barely horror based is that of Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Jim Hopper (David Harbour) discovering a huge conspiracy going down in the town. This also features a new character, the wonderful Alexi (Alec Utgoff), who like Bob in season 2 was someone I really grew to love. This storyline was the most action packed of the lot with a Terminator style antagonist who is constantly turning up to get in brutal fights with Hopper all over the town of Hawkins. On the subject of Hopper I didn't really like what they did with his character this season. He just comes across as moody and angry all season that made it hard to really get on his side. In general the tone of the show is a lot darker this time around.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Crawl (2019) - Horror Film Review

The majority of this review I am transcribing from a voice note I made while sitting in my car after having watched Crawl (directed by Alexandre Aja - Piranha 3D, The Hills Have Eyes), due to being busy later on in the evening I saw it. I watched the film at the same time as my sister, but didn't watch it with her, coincidentally discovering later that we had unknowingly been in the same screening as each other! That was useful as I got her and her boyfriends perspectives on the film too. I wasn't expecting much from Crawl, this was about my fifth attempt to go see it. I've never been too keen on horror films about animals, films like Lake Placid and Jaws kind of bore me, but surprisingly to me this film was actually very enjoyable.

Wannabe professional swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario - Maze Runner, Moon) gets a call from her sister warning about an incoming category 5 hurricane, and that she is worried about her father, Dave (Barry Pepper - Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Saving Private Ryan) due to not being able to get in contact with him. Hayley isn't really on speaking terms with her dad but decides to drive to his house to check in on him for her sisters sake. Eventually she tracks him down to their childhood home where she discovers him lying unconscious in the basement (which is nothing much more than a glorified crawl space). As she tries to drag him to safety she suddenly discovers just how he came to be injured, there is a huge alligator in the basement with them, and it is blocking the exit. Her father comes to and so the rest of the movie is them working together to try and escape before the rising flood water, or the alligator kills them.

 I had only seen the trailer a few times prior to seeing this, but I feel the trailer did a grand job of not spoiling a very early twist which raised the stakes a lot. Due to this I'm not going to spoil that little twist, but this will mean that I have to spin the truth a tiny bit. Needless to say, but the film is a lot more exciting than I gave it credit for, and there was actually a body count. While the father and daughter are the main characters there are a bunch of additional ones who seem to only appear in order to get eaten. I wondered at first why the film was titled 'Crawl' when it was set in a basement, but it turns out this is quite fitting, with the alligator of course crawling around everywhere, and due to the low ceilings the characters too do a lot of crawling. The way the film plays out, the basement itself is really only the start of the problems the characters face, with the rising water comes the rising alligator too, who is much more at home swimming about than being on dry land. Everywhere the characters go the blasted creature appears, the animals really are like real world monsters in the way they look. The constant threat of this creature had me coiled like a spring in my chair, I could feel myself so tense wondering where the next attack would come from.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Appalachian Undead (2013) - Zombie Anthology Book Review

September marks the Apex Back Catalog Blog Tour which pretty much sums itself up with the title. Apex Publications have published around 70 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books since it was created in 2004. Their intention is to show off their back catalogue by getting a review of one of their older books for every day of September. I was invited to participate and after spotting zombie anthology book Appalachian Undead in their catalogue I just had to do a review of it. Anthologies often have themes and for this one unsurprisingly the theme is zombie stories that occur in remote feeling Appalachia in America.

So within this book are twenty different short stories about the undead, by a variety of authors, most of which I had never heard of. Usually there is at least one bad story, it is the law of averages, here though there were not any bad stories. Sure some were a bit predictable, some ended in ways I didn't particularly agree with, and some were not that exciting, but none of them were badly written or downright off putting. The Appalachians are known for their isolated communities and so many of these stories feed into this isolation, and sense of things being done differently.
This kicks off with When Granny Comes Marchin' Home Again by Elizabeth Massie which also begins a trend of older people being the focus of a few of these shorts. Here an old lady tries to perfect a potion that will allow her to cheat death. This was a good start. Another one revolving around an elderly lady was Company's Coming by Ronald Kelly that uses the idea of the undead as an analogy for racism, with a lady hiding some zombies from a bloodthirsty posse. The best of the stories based on old women was the fantastic Calling Death by Jonathan Maberry in which we slowly learn the chilling reason why there is a perpetual sound of digging and moaning coming from an old collapsed mine, I loved the ending of this one.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Momo: The Missouri Monster (2019) - Horror Documentary Review

Momo: The Missouri Monster is the latest documentary to come from director Seth Breedlove (Terror in the Skies). As the title obviously suggests, this time around the focus is on a single creature, a bigfoot type monster that terrorised a small town near Louisiana, Missouri for a few weeks during the summer of 1972. This does something different for a documentary in that rather than straight recreations to show what witnesses say they saw it instead uses footage from a lost monster movie from the 70's, the titular Momo: The Missouri Monster. This would be well and good, but the thing is this movie never actually existed, segments purporting to be from it were actually created specifically for this documentary.

So according to historical accounts from the time, in the summer of 1972 a foul smelling bigfoot type creature was sighted by several different people. The biggest sighting being that of a family who claim that it was seen by their home holding a carcass of a dog. Along with this monster, during this period there were also many claims of having seen strange lights floating in the sky, which gave this an extraterrestrial angle to it. These events caused enough of a panic at the time that an organised posse of twenty men did actually go out hunting for 'Momo' one night.

So, this documentary is split into two very different parts, that of the fake film, and the historical side itself. I always felt there was a bit of a divide with these two sections. The real part features interviews for witnesses from the time, as well as an exploration into the possible explanations for the creature, everything from an alien visitor, to a black bear and more. Like Breedlove's previous documentary I appreciate a balanced view that is given, in fact with most the interviewed people saying they don't believe there is any truth to the legend it often seems this is a lot of nothing. However I did find this interesting, and maybe bizarrely I found this part to be more effective, and even more chilling than the fake movie.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) - Horror Film Review

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has one terrible title, though it seems it is so called as it is based on a book series of the same name from the 1980's. Much like Goosebumps, rather than focus on one story this instead combines a variety of the books into one cohesive whole. There were three books published, combined having over 80 short horror tales, so there is plenty of scope for more films if this one turns out to be successful. It is directed by André Ovredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) so I knew in terms of directing at least this was going to be good.

It is 1968, and in the small American town of Mill Valley on Halloween four teenage friends, that include Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti),  Auggie (Gabriel Rush - Better Call Saul, Gotham), Chuck (Austin Zajur), and drifter Ramón (Michael Garza - Wayward Pines) decide to break into an old mansion that has a reputation for being haunted. In the past a rich family lived there, and they happened to have a daughter named Sarah who due to some sort of disfigurement was kept locked away in a secret room. She apparently used to tell local children scary stories, but after these children started disappearing, and with rumours that she was behind their vanishing she killed herself. Anyway, the friends discover a secret room, and in that room discover a book of stories written by Sarah. Stella decides to take the book but is soon alarmed when she discovers horrific stories concerning people she knows are writing themselves on the blank pages. Realising that the chronicled events appearing are actually happening to the people written about, Stella and her friends set out to find a way to stop the horror, before they themselves end up as part of a scary story...

This movie flew by, so much so that I was a bit surprised when the end credits rolled around that nearly two hours had passed. This must be doing something right that I was so involved that I never once felt bored, or that time was really dragging. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy Scary Stories, however this is such a formulaic teen horror that it just can't be said to be original in any way. A creepy, supernatural female antagonist, a middle act that comprises of the heroes doing a lot of research, even a character falling over and twisting their ankle, all of this is so unoriginal. One Missed Call, The Ring, heck, even The Grudge, this tightly fits into the genre for better or for worse. One of the plus side though is the idea of each victim having their death be based on a different short horror tale led to a lot of variety. A zombie creature looking for her lost toe, a living scarecrow, spiders bursting out of someone's face, and a fantastic looking humanoid blob creature meant boredom could never set in. Jump scares didn't really seem to be in abundance which itself was refreshing, though the horror is usually more action like in its pace than sustained terror. I guess being a 15 rated movie would explain that, and why this is such a bloodless film.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Xenophobia (2019) - Sci-fi Horror Anthology Film Review

It was just half a week ago that I watched the horror anthology Urban Fears, and now today I sit down to watch sci-fi horror Xenophobia and discover with some joy that it too is an anthology. The format for this one is one wraparound story with three other ones coming off of it. You could argue this is B movie trash, but that isn't entirely fair. Sure it features some questionable acting, and some suspect effects at times but it is actually a fun movie that knows what it is trying to achieve.

The wraparound story is called Trona Pinnacles. A young man, Eric (Baker Chase Powell - Little Dead Rotting Hood) is out in the Nevada desert taking photos when he gets abducted by aliens. His experience leads to him seeking out an alien abduction support group from which the other three shorts come from.
In Doomsday (directed by Joe Castro - the Terror Toons series) Becky (Kristen Renton - Sons of Anarchy) is out camping with her husband Harry (Nick Principe - Army of the Damned) when they come across a strange sight out in the woods. This initiates a nightmare struggle for Becky to stop her mind controlled husband from delivering an apocalyptic McGuffin to the nearby city.
In Starchild (directed by Steven Escobar) a woman babysitting at a house must fight off an alien presence that invades the property.
Finally in Last Phase at the Sullivan House (directed by Thomas J.Churchill) a group of former abuse victims have kidnapped a man called Edgar (Mark Hoadley) after witnessing him trying to murder his wife. However he has a bizarre explanation for what his motivations were.

While the stories are all related in a way, they all feature a different form of alien menace, of which all of the creature designs look pretty good. There are CGI effects used, and occasionally they do look a little bit bad, but they are used sparingly, apart from the outdoor scenes of U.F.Os in the sky. Thankfully for the most part it is practical effects that are used, something that just works so much better. All the alien designs are pretty great, and while they look like unreal they still feature some cool designs. The two headed creature in Doomsday manages to really look freaky, and I liked the throbbing effect they use when showing it. The creature in Starchild did kind of remind me of a roomba in its size, it wasn't bad but wasn't as much a standout as the other ones. For Last Phase there is a real The Thing style gross mutation going on. On the one hand sure it doesn't match the effects from that almighty film, however it still looks fun, and far from terrible. These creature designs were the highlight for me with Xenophobia.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

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

Yet another month, and yet another round-up of all the horror news I have received this month. I'm getting towards the end of a rather dull week off of work, though still plan to get two more cinema trips for the couple of horrors that are out at the moment, as well as a birthday party I completely forgot about, which is happening as I type! It is a trailer heavy post this month, which was a pain as YouTube no longer works on my PC for some reason, I shall have to look into fixing that.

Last mentioned a year ago, Danish zombie film Escaping the Dead is going to be heading to North America with a release date of 1st October. This horror was written, produced and directed by Martin Sonntag and features a large cast of over 150 zombie actors, as well as Lloyd Kaufman and Kim Sonderholm (Harvest, Lucid). Escaping the Dead can be preordered here.

Indican Pictures are set to release 6 Hot Chicks in a Warehouse this September, which comes from director Simon Edwards (Blaze of Glory). In this action horror a group of female models are invited to the studio of photographer Adrian. However it turns out the man is quite insane and kidnaps the women with the intention of forcing them to fight each other to the death. This is due for release on 3rd September.

Also coming from Indican Pictures is Perfect Skin, a horror thriller from director Kevin Chicken and writer Dusan Tolmac. This is about a crazy tattoo artist who kidnaps a young Polish woman for his next experiment. This stars Richard Brake (3 From Hell, 31), Natalia Kostrzewa (The Looking Glass) and Jo Woodcock, and comes to DVD on 10th September.

Hex Studios (Lord of Tears, The Black Gloves) really love their Owlman creation, and they love making prank videos of him scaring unsuspecting members of the public. They have recently released a new prank video, the latest victims including a pizza delivery man, a plumber, and a clown.

Shudder and Terror Films have released a sneak peek clip from the third film in the Hell House LLC series - Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire. This movie is set one year after the events of the second movie and sees a billionaire buying the titular cursed property as a place to hold his popular interactive show 'Insomnia'. The film comes to Shudder later this year, with the first two entries already on the streaming platform. Fingers crossed that this re-captures the magic of the first film in the series!

The latest film from Dakota Ray (American AntichristThe Acid Sorcerer) titled The Dark Days of Demetrius is due out in September. This one is about serial killer Demetrius (Ray) who has gained a kind of stardom from live streaming the murder of his victims online. Ray's movies always have a feeling of bleak nihilism to them, so I expect this will carry on this tradition. At some point in the next few weeks I shall be putting up a review of this one, so check back for that. Check out the trailer for it in the meantime here.

The final news for this month concerns horror film Killer Therapy which comes from Barry Jay. This tells the story of a disturbed man seeking revenge, whether justified or not on the family that is scared of him, and the many therapists who failed to cure him. The cast includes Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead, Friday 13th Part VI) whose appearance here marks his return to a leading role. This movie also features PJ Soles (Halloween, Carrie), Elizabeth Keener (The L Word), Ivy George (Big Little Lies) and Michael Qeliqi. Killer Therapy is currently in post-production and is due to premiere on the film festival circuit later this year.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Observer (2017) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Observer is a game I have wanted to play for years, and in fact I have owned it for years. However every single time I have gone to play it something came up that prevented me from doing so, really has been strange the amount of times that has happened. Anyway, with a week off work I decided to finally plug myself into this cyberpunk horror.

The game takes place in 2084 in a dystopian future in which a global digital plague named the nanophage has killed thousands upon thousands of  augmented people. This resulted in a global conflict between the superpowers of the East and West which wiped them out. In Poland a mega corporation called Chiron took over the running of the country. You play as Daniel Lazarski (voiced by Rutger Hauer), an Observer based in Kraków. Observers are a special branch of the police force who have the ability to hack into peoples brain implants for interrogation purposes. One night you receive an urgent call from your estranged son Adam asking for help. You track him to a run-down apartment building in the Class-C part of the city (the poorest area). Arriving in his flat you discover a headless corpse, then before you are able to request assistance the whole apartment building is put into lockdown, with communication to the outside world cut off. Trapped inside with a killer on the loose you must investigate to discover exactly what has occured.

Some forms of media I find really affect me, and usually it is when situations match up with my experiences in real life. Being an introvert, and with my previously mentioned week off work I have become a bit isolated and kind of a shut-in. So to then play a paranoid psychological horror that takes place in a building under lockdown I become to feel like I was one of the tenants locked in their flats, and that any moment Daniel Lazarski was going to come knocking at my door. It also doesn't help that my first name is the same as his, on more than one occasion forgetting this I was perturbed by a character speaking to me by name! Observer is a hallucinogenic, technophobe first person horror game in which nothing is ever as it really seems.This bears a lot of similarities with other games of its type. It covers such topics as the underwater terror that was Soma did, but in a setting that felt more like Deus-Ex. There is no combat, I would use the term 'walking simulator' but that always sounds like an insult. On occasion there are stealth sections that pop-up but these are few and far between. For the most part you are walking around the claustrophobic maze like corridors of the apartment building, going door to door, speaking to the apartments residents through distorted, hazy video projectors.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Riley Was Here (2018) - Short Zombie Horror Film Review

It's getting to the point that whenever I am contacted about a new film on the online video platform Alter I just know it is going to be good. Riley Was Here (directed and written by Mike Marrero and Jon Rhoads) is an Alter exclusive that came to their channel on August 14th. It also features zombies, so of course is a perfect fit for a review here.

In this short zombie apocalypse has been and gone, but for the survivors it can be hard to move on having lost loved ones in the chaos. A young man named Junior (Julio Trinidad) arrives at the home of Raquelle (Elena Devers), who provides a special service to the right clientele. A way to see what it feels like to temporary see things from the side of the infected...

Riley Was Here is quite a low key piece, yet manages with a cast of just two to really create a feeling of loss and sorrow. I enjoyed the build-up of just what was going to happen. Initially things appear straight up surreal, Junior in just his underpants being ordered to roll around on a child's bed, as Raquelle, wearing a biohazard suit coldly watches. Soon it becomes clear where this is going. By the time it does get to its conclusion you have a good grasp of both the characters motivations, they are both suffering and both see release from different sides of the same coin. The quiet pace of this creates a feeling of sadness which hides the dark direction this ends up going with. This works so well as a short, with the cautionary tale being paced so well.

A zombie short with a difference, but exploring topics that all too often are brushed over. This may be a little too uneventful for some, but this fifteen minutes is worth watching all the way to the end. Riley Was Here is free to watch on Alter so check it out for yourself.


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Urban Fears (2019) - Horror Anthology Film Review

It was only back in April that I watched Nicholas Michael Jacobs found footage torture film Night, and now he is back with a new film, an anthology of interconnected stories called Urban Fears. As before Jacobs is involved in so much of the creation of this. As well as director, writer, producer, editor, composer he also helped with the cinematography and acts in this one. Also like his previous film it appears that he had a lot of help from family members with the credited cast including five different actors with the surname Jacobs (of course it could be coincidental). I made it clear during my review of Night that I didn't like that particular sub-genre of horror, with this one though, I do have a soft spot for anthologies.

It seems the remit for Urban Fears was to display that while most horror films occur in suburban areas, or more remote places, that urban areas, such as the city centre shown here could also be host to horror stories. There are four different stories here all taken place over one night. In one a young girl sees a post on her social media feed of a spooky girl (Gianna Jacobs - Night) with a warning that if she doesn't share the post she will die. In another a young thief encounters a silent masked man who begins a relentless pursuit. The third story has a girl house sitting, who has been warned not to open a certain door in the basement. Curiosity getting the better of her she accidentally releases a psychotic doll. Finally these dangers from the different stories all come together for one poor soul.

So there are several different ways to show an anthology, the main ones being either to have a wraparound story (Weird Fiction), or to have interconnected stories (Trick 'r Treat). I find the later much more involving when done correctly and so it was nice to see that implemented here. There was nice overlap with the next story following on chronologically from the previous one and often including mild interaction, such as a character witnessing the end of the previous story, or getting contacted in some way. The masked killer for instance with the exception of the short prologue story manages to appear in some form or another in each of the tales, with the other perils also getting cleverly inserted in ways that don't seem obvious to begin with.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Church (2018) - Horror Film Review

Oh man, I had high hopes in my head for Dom Frank's indie horror The Church. I liked the idea behind it and discovering that the fantastic Bill Moseley (Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil's Rejects) had a starring role in it I expected great things. Despite a slow start I was ready to give it a fair shot, however I soon discovered a series of glaring faults that made me unable to see this as anything more than a missed opportunity.

Moseley stars as Pastor James whose church is in a neighbourhood that is being brought up by rich land developer Andrei (Daniel Wyland). Eventually James is given an offer he can't refuse, with him and the church committee deciding to sell his family church. However during the final meeting to sign away the property something strange happens. Everyone finds themselves trapped in the building, unable to escape, and one by one they are dragged away to some sort of Hell dimension where judgement is passed down upon them. It is possible that God is not happy that his place of worship is going to be demolished...

Even after the prologue in which two small time crooks vanish into thin air after entering the titular church I had hoped this would be a decent horror. It takes its time to get going with the horror not starting in earnest until around the thirty five minute mark. Sadly this was where the movie fell apart due to some terrible looking CGI. The CGI ruins this film, being a utter distraction each time it rears its ugly head. From people 'floating' in the air, to digital looking smoke and fire effects the reliance on technology beats every ounce of fright out of this. To have a finale that features prominently a floating fireball that looks like something from 90's kids adventure game show Knightmare meant that I just couldn't take this seriously. It is a shame as I did like the idea of having God as the antagonist, whether that turned out to be true or not.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Marvel Zombies: Dead Days (2009) - Zombie Graphic Novel Review

As may become apparent, I am on a bit of a Marvel Zombies kick at the moment, working my way through the parts of this long series that are contained in graphic novels. I started my reading of this with Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness. Dead Days is more of a tricky beast though. The actual comic Dead Days was released in 2007, however the book Dead Days is made up of quite a few different zombie related stories that were released over a period of a few years. Due to this sometimes this book can have a bit of  a disjointed feel to it.

Starting off with the titular Dead Days itself then. This is a prequel to the whole Marvel Zombies series. I expected it to show the actual outbreak but instead it begins with a variety of top tier super heroes already infected, going on to show the spread of the virus to others, most notably the Fantastic 4, the X-Men, as well as the main undead cast of Marvel Zombies. This was written by Robert Kirkman, who of course is the writer of The Walking Dead. As I said in a previous review I enjoyed how this matches up with other stories going on. The best example being Spider-Man who tells M.J and Aunt May that he was attacked by Colonel America which matches up with that actual attack we see in Army of Darkness. This whole comic takes place during the events of Army of Darkness.

The next big story here is made up of Ultimate Fantastic 4 issues #21-23 and takens place between the end of Army of Darkness and the first Marvel Zombies book. In another reality there is no undead apocalypse, this versions Mr Fantastic has been working with a version of himself from a different reality to construct a device that can transport people between dimensions. Little does he know that it is all a trick by zombie Mr Fantastic to get his ghouls a new world to devour. Realising too late what is actually going on he must work together with some unlikely non-infected allies from zombie world to remedy his huge error. All this dimension shifting stuff makes my head fizz, but it was a pretty cool story. Due to Dead Days being a compilation there are plenty of references to events and people that I had no clue about.

Next up is Ultimate Fantastic 4 issues #30-32 which serves a sequel to the previous story in the book, and takes place not long after Marvel Zombies 1. In the alternate dimension the zombified Fantastic 4 have been kept imprisoned by the non infected Fantastic 4. A event that was started in a story in between issue #23 and #32 means that the dimension jumping device that had been created might just be needed in order to save this world. This was another good story, at least on the zombie side of things. However I felt there was quite a bit of knowledge missing, and I found interactions between characters, such as Doctor Doom and Fantastic 4 to be a bit confusing.

The final story is made up of issues #28-30 of Black Panther and sees yet another reality. Black Panther, Storm, The Human Torch and The Thing from the mainstream Marvel reality find themselves transported through time and space to a Skrull planet, just as the surviving super zombies of Marvel Zombies 1 arrive to consume it. This was the weakest of the stories, mainly being that being from the main Marvel reality there was no chance of the heroes being in any real danger. Add to that that the super zombies are as intact as they can be when Marvel Zombies 2 begins and this is a low key story with zero stakes. Also I didn't really like the more cartoony art style here, everything was a bit too bright and colourful for my liking.

I'm glad I read Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, and it is cool how everything links up. However as a stand alone title it doesn't hold up, it only works within context of the greater series. Even with a page of text in between the stories explaining what has happened this still feels like large parts of the plot are missing. This becomes a nice side piece, but I wouldn't say it is essential reading.


Sunday, 25 August 2019

Horror House (2019) - Horror Anthology Show Review

Horror House is a web based horror show that features a variety of short Australian horror films, and which is hosted by Count Funghoula (David Black) and Mistress Boobiyana (Tritia Devisha). The first season is made up of six episodes, each roughly 25 minutes long.

So to start with is the hosted format. I found the wraparound sections featuring the two hosts to be a bit random. The humour is often crude, and there aren't really any plotlines, but the format is helped a lot by canned laughter and other fake audience effects that add a lot of charm. While it was all a bit nonsensical the makeup of the two was good, and I admit I did like all the random violence Boobiyana causes to Funghoula. Plus I found all the bad stuff that happens to Funghoula to be consistently funny. I felt that it might have worked better had the hosts introduced each short, or commented on them afterwards, as these shorts felt unconnected.

So each of the six episodes mostly has three shorts and one music video. The music videos are all by Darkness Visible (that Black is a member of) and is all horror tinged music. Some, like 'Darkness Visible' in episode one, and 'Eat Me' in episode five tell little stories in their videos. It was nice that the final episode featured 'Inquisition' which it turns out is the music used for the Horror House theme during the wonderfully animated intro credits. I've seen a few Australian short horrors over the years and so was interested to see what this show would come up with.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness (2007) - Zombie Graphic Novel Review

Many years ago I read the first couple of Marvel Zombies graphic novels but never got around to reading the rest, as they were quite expensive at the time. Due to this I stopped after the second one. After seeing a zombie Iron Man appear in a hallucination in Spider-Man: Far From Home I came to be thinking of this series once again, and was pleased to see that the books were all pretty cheap now, and that there were a load more released since I last checked out the titles. Marvel Zombies is a standalone series that takes place in a reality where a zombie plague has decimated Earth. I've owned Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness since before my blog was even a glint in my eye, so have revisited as part of my reading of the Zombies series. Interestingly within the context of the series it is canon as it is linked up to take place around the same time that Dead Days (the prequel to Marvel Zombies) did. I shall be reviewing Dead Days later as three of the four stories in the collection take place after this novel.

Ash Williams (from The Evil Dead) falls out of a portal and lands in a world that looks very similar to his own, similar that is apart from the fact in this world super heroes exist. Unfortunately for Ash his arrival is not long before a catastrophic zombie plague is unleashed, super heroes being super heroes try to fight this outbreak but soon they are overwhelmed and transformed into flesh hungry beasts who in record time decimate the world thanks to their super powers. It doesn't help that ths virus only affects people with powers. Teaming up with surviving super heroes Ash goes on a desperate quest to locate the Necronomicon which he believes is the cause of all the madness...

The idea of zombies in the world of Marvel is one which has never got boring to me over the years. Weirdly Ash is a perfect fit in this world, coming across as an oddball but losing none of his extreme confidence. A lot of the humour comes from his interactions in this place, not knowing who anyone is. For instance when seeing Daredevil fighting Thunderball he assumes the guy dressed like a demon is the bad one so helps defeat him! His lack of knowledge of who anyone is leads to plenty of fun moments, such as the various insults he throws at Doctor Doom, and how he refuses to become The Punisher's sidekick to hilarious effect. It is so much fun seeing all the various heroes and villains of the Marvel world turned into corpses, more so now that I have seen ten years of Marvel films and actually know who a lot of these characters are, when back when I first read this I only knew the main ones. A book in which a zombified Howard the Duck appears can never be something bad!

Unlike the main titles in the series this obviously focuses on Ash. Originally this was a five issue run with a lot happening. The story itself is fitting for Ash and leads to a great resolution which is as silly as you would expect. His journey sees him for the most part not really getting involved in the main story, his interactions with the undead are usually one on one with the main zombies getting fleeting appearances. More impressive to me was just how this works with Dead Days. For instance in that it started with an infected Spider-Man returning to his home. In this you actually see how he got infected, matching up with what he said in that other comic about how it happened. I loved how care had been made to have this fit in coherently.

I loved this graphic novel at the time and I still do. It carries the persona of Ash perfectly, and manages to naturally blend the humour effortlessly in. This is all helped by some great artwork and colouring. As a hardback this feels like quality. Marvel Zombies is a great idea in itself, adding the Evil Dead world into the mix was genius.


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Same Old, Same Old: A Short and Strange Story by B.Sides (2019) - Short Horror eBook Review

This is a two fold 'forgive me' introduction. Firstly I wrote my notes for this review while on a lunch break at my day job so they are kinda hard to decipher. Secondly, as always I'm not that great at writing book reviews. Now as far as I'm aware B.Sides novella, Same Old, Same Old: A Short and Strange Story is the first short story I have reviewed on my blog.

Terry works for a local children's centre and due to constant financial difficulties he is always out in his neighbourhood going door to door looking for handouts. One dark and rainy night, looking to get his donation collecting over with quickly he chooses the nearby poor Shady Oaks apartment complex rather than heading to a more affluent part of town. While there he discovers an apartment that has its door wide open. Curiosity getting the better of him he enters, and sees something most unexpected.

I went headfirst into this book and so managed to miss the fact it was only eighty pages long. It is a good thing then that this is a well rounded story that was well written, and so descriptive that even now some days after reading it I can picture in my mind the apartment complex Terry finds himself in. I love the rain and it usually adds to anything it appears in. Here is no different. The minor twist here is that it is basically Lovecraftian horror blended with comedy. I liked how there was a transition from a feeling of horror, with Terry ending up trapped inside a closet, hiding from the owner of the apartment, to a much more humorous piece that changed tracks with the arrival of a spatula.

The pacing of Same Old, Same Old was tight enough that I was kept involved from beginning to end. Even with the arrival of a more light hearted tone I was still a bit unsure how it would all turn out. The interactions between the various characters, and the inner monologue of Terry led to some funny, as well as tense moments. H.P Lovecraft is the writer of the most genuinely scary stories out there, so I will always have time for anything that incorporates his mythos of ancient Gods. From beginning to end this flowed along at an enjoyable pace with there being nothing that felt unneeded. I found myself really quite enjoying Same Old, Same Old, worth a read.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Stranger Things: Season 2 (2017) - Horror TV Show Review

With the recent arrival of season 3 of Stranger Things it felt time to go back to the show, having only seen the first season. Now I absolutely loved that one, yet after watching the first episode of the second back in 2017, my best friend (who I watch the show with) decided she didn't want to see anymore. Well she has the proverbial egg running down her face as it unsurprisingly turns out now we have returned that Stranger Things did continue to be excellent, with us blasting through the eight episodes in just over a week. There is bound to be some spoilers for the previous season here as an obvious warning.

The show picks up around a year after the events of the first season, with it coming up to the anniversary of Will (Noah Schnapp) getting rescued from the mysterious twisted mirror reality known as 'the upside down'. He has frequently been experiencing flashbacks of being back in the place, which feel all too real, though his doctor at the Hawkins National Laboratory assures him, his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder - Alien: Resurrection), and sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour - Hellboy, Suicide Squad) that it is nothing to be worried about.
During the past year the psychic girl known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown - Godzilla: King of the Monsters) thought lost in the upside down has in fact been rescued by Hopper and is staying with him in a secluded cabin, but her frustration at being so isolated leads her to want to go and discover her past.
While this is all going on the rest of the gang of school friends, that includes Mike (Finn Wolfhard - It), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and newcomer Max (Sadie Sink) discover a small creature that may have come from the upside down. Then elsewhere, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and her boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery) seek to get closure for the parents of Barb who was killed in the events of a year ago.

Much like the first time around there are several different storylines going on that all eventually meet up. However this time around things are more fragmented with the core cast of the gang spending much time apart. The focal point is Will discovering a giant smoke monster (later called 'The Mind Flayer') that intends to invade the real world. This part takes place mostly separate from everything else with only Mike really being a part of this in terms of the kids. This section is by far the most horror focussed and features possession, huge underground tunnels, and lots of 'demodogs'. Eleven was an integral character before, and despite having a complete standalone story for much of the season she still shines as someone essential to everything. The season opens with a slightly off putting out of place car chase in a city somewhere, with characters we don't know. Her journey eventually has her meet up with these new people in Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister. This episode felt so different to anything that had come before and while it was of course great it did feel a bit apart from anything else.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Curse of Valburga (2019) - Horror Film Review

I think it was back in April of this year that I first mentioned the comedy horror The Curse of Valburga. The film is from director Tomaz Gorkic, whose first debut feature length Killbillies was said to have been Slovenia's first ever horror film. Like that, this too is set in Slovenia, though exchanging the vast mountains of that one for a dilapidated mansion, about as opposite as you can go in terms of setting.

Hoping to make some easy money, Marjan (Jurij Drevensek - Killbillies) comes up with a plan with his brother Bojan (Marko Mandic) and a mutual friend to scam tourists by giving them a fake tour of a mansion with a sordid past in Valburga. The mansion was said to once be home to bloodthirsty Baron Valburga who was brutal to the peasants he ruled over, and rumoured to be the cousin of Count Dracula. The plan seems to be working, with Marjan turning up at the property with an eclectic bunch of tourists that include among them goths, drunks, pornstars and criminals, all of which have ulterior motives for joining the tour. It is once they are in the mansion that things begin to go wrong, a family of cannibals happen to live in the basement, and they see the group as easy food...

Much like Wicked Witches that I saw the other week, The Curse of Valburga is stupid, switch your brain off at the door fun. Characters are not much more than stereotypes and do little to endear themselves. There isn't really a main protagonist, maybe Marjan who certainly gets more screen time than any other. For all this lack of meat I was surprised how long it takes for the action to begin. There was a nice twenty minute prologue of Marjan and his brother and friend drinking in a bar, then it is around forty minutes in the horror begins in earnest. There were a few little subplots going on, such as Vasily (Luka Cimpric) hoping to make a porn film, and a man hoping to find a mythical object said to be able to summon a demon. None of the side plots were too involving, and the main story just has people running around the vast empty mansion trying to find a way to escape.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Forced Entry (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

Forced Entry is a 24 minute horror that was directed by Texan based filmmakers K.M. Jamison and James Bett Jr. (who also co-stars). Now the subject matter of random brutal murder isn't a favourite of mine, but compared to similar films within the subgenre this short sits in, such as the unpleasant Headless this comes out a lot better. This too is a nasty film that left me feeling unclean, but I also appreciated how this was created.

Two masked psychopaths; Arthur (Tom Lodewyck) and Donovan (Bett Jr.) spend their days randomly targeting young women, capturing, torturing, and then killing them. This short almost feels like 'a day in the life' of, though due to the way it is edited it could also be seen as a collection of even shorter stories within the short.

So, Forced Entry is set out like an exploitation film from the eighties, so this includes lots of violence and murder squeezed into its run time. I liked the editing here, and the way it is set out in general. For example, the intro credits come three minutes in, after a prologue that sets the tone for what is going to transpire. Namely lots of innocent female victims being terrorised, lots of blood, and some nudity. Going back to Headless, that loved showing its violence in close up detail. With this, while violence is shown on screen (such as knife stabs and cuts), it is also implied quite a bit, but remains just as powerful. My favourite example of this was a shot showing a fleeing victim coming face to face with one of the killers, then it cuts to the victims bloodied corpse laying on the ground. I really liked transitions such as these. The fact that this is a homage to old films also helps scene changes with it being made to look like parts of the film are missing, or having the film cut to static.

Sticking to its roots the victims are nearly all nameless and have little to them. They are lambs for the slaughter to the two psychos who are the focal point of this. Arthur is quite chatty and came across like a cross between Heath Ledger's Joker, and Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of Alex in the classic A Clockwork Orange. Arthur is the larger of the duo, he does speak as well, possibly the dynamic of the two would have been better if he had been a silent character, then they would have represented two different types of home invasion antagonist.

While I didn't like the subject matter covered I loved how this was all put together. There were so many little elements I enjoyed, from the way the camera lovingly pans up and down the corpses revelling in the blood and body trauma, to the jump cuts, the editing, and end credit footage of serial killer testimonies. This was an unpleasant film whose plot felt aimless, and it certainly seems misogynistic, but then it is an ode to exploitation films and so it needed those elements. To say I enjoyed this short wouldn't be completely true, yet Forced Entry was a film I'm glad I watched.