Saturday, 30 November 2019

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


A short introduction to this months round-up of horror news as I appear to have quite a bit to get through. I am expecting some turbulent times to be upcoming in my life in the near future so this is the calm before the storm, will see how the next few months pan out. Anyway, onto the news...

Not so much news, more designed as a way to bring potential customers to a car website is the Zombia 3000. This is an advert for a fake car that could help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I've mentioned it here though as the advert goes into quite some detail. Including a break down of exterior features (such as plough attachment), and interior features (CB radio) this was a fun little article. Check it out for yourself here if you so wish.

Just over a year ago I reviewed Alex Noyer's excellent short horror film Conductor, which was about a very special type of music device. Well some good news in that this is going to be adapted into a feature length thriller in what will be Noyer's first full length directorial debut. Starring Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons and James Jagger the film is to be about a formerly deaf woman who somehow gained synesthetic abilities after witnessing the murder of her family as a child. She now uses these abilities in a career in music, 'composing her masterpiece through gruesome murders'.

Terror Films have announced some of the films being released as part of their 2020 line-up. There are too many to go into detail on but so far the films announced are Red Letters, All the Wrong Friends, Serena Waits, The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom, Dark Roads 79, Tropical Vampires, The Evil Rises, A Knight's Tour, Derelicts, 10/31, Still Life, The Bone Box and Irrational Fear.

I've mentioned the clown killer horror Kill Giggles before but now it has a trailer. Apparently inspired by director/writer Jaysen Buterin's fear of clowns this is about a serial killer who only targets them. It stars Michael Ray Williams as clown killer Tommy dos Santos along with Ellie Church (High on the Hog), Vernon Wells (Mad Max), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and Judith O'Dea (Night of the Living Dead).

 

November 8th saw Indican Pictures Ballet Blanc come to theatres. Anne-Sophie Dutoit's film centres on a young boy abandoned by his ballet troupe, who sets out on a reign of terror in the town he was left in. Ballet Blanc is due to be released on DVD and Digital platforms January 2020.



Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down), Harley Wallen, Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Maria Olsen (I Spit on Your Grave), Mel Novak (Bruce Lee's Game of Death) and Vernon Wells (Weird Science) are all set to appear in upcoming indie horror drama film The Initiation. In this movie Professor Daniel Kimmer discovers an ex-student he is having an affair with is actually a member of a secret society of feminist witches.

Hex Studios are going to release a limited edition of festival hit Here Comes Hell. Described as 'The Old House' meets 'The Evil Dead' this is a horror comedy homage to classic horror films. Jack McHenry's directorial debut is filmed in black and white and is about a group of 1930's socialites who accidentally open a gateway to Hell during a dinner party event at a dilapidated mansion. It certainly sounds interesting. This limited DVD release includes a commentary as well as a behind the scenes documentary. It can be preordered here.

German zombie film The Rise of Valhalla is now out on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital. I first mentioned this way back in 2014 so is good to see it has came out. The film looks to be set during World War II and has Nazi soldiers battling undead vikings.



Roberto D'Antona's The Last Heroes is out on Amazon Prime Video. This Italian horror is about a group of friends meeting in a small town where they once shared a terrible secret. Together they discover the ancient curse of Kaisha. The film can be found here.



I have already reviewed The Pale Faced Lady and She Will Return, and now the third chapter in Jeff Payne's well edited series has been announced. Short film In Darkness I Wait is meant to be 'a rollercoaster ride of tension of scares'. Part 3 follows two people who head into the notorious house in order to burn it down, unaware of the horrors within. It sounds like this could possibly be the final film in what has been an entertaining series.

The final film news for this month is a trailer for new horror/sci-fi/thriller mystery film Twenty Twenty. This was written, directed and produced by Dave Sweeny (Deranged Foxhole) and stars Nicholas M. Garofolo (Deranged Foxhole, Sweet Revenge). In this one a man struggles to figure out what's real or not. He encounters such characters as Terranova, who claims she is from the man's future, as well as a Mystery Woman, his landlady Mary Lee, and Old Man.



Onto music news now, firstly heavy rock artist Emma Garell has released the music video for her new single Crawl. This was directed by Cody Mausolf of The Liquor Portal and is available now via The Label Group/ INgrooves.



Hungarian punk/rock/metal band The Hellfreaks have released the video for the 2nd single 'Red Sky' from their upcoming album God on the Run. The band say the song "is about the seed of change, it's about the nature of pain." The new album can be pre-ordered here.



Synthwave trio 3force have created a reimagining of Once, There Was An Explosion which is the theme for the new science fiction game Death Stranding (that I would quite like to play if I had the funds!). The track has been described as 'a captivating piece of futuristic terror that will keep listeners riveted to their speakers'. The track is available now through independent synthwave label FiXT Neon.



While this next bit of news isn't strictly horror related I'm mentioning it as it is related to Peter Ricq who was the director/score composer/creator/co-writer of the criminally underrated horror Dead Shack (go watch it, it's great!). Anyway, he is working on a graphic novel titled A King's Vengeance. The story is about a King who gets resurrected 25 years after he dies in order to avenge his family's death. It has been described as 'a steampunk, medieval, fantasy, adventure, and violent revenge story' with influences cited as Conan the Barbarian, Robocop, GOT and Hellboy. There is currently a Kickstarter campaign going to raise funds to produce a high-end quality hardcover book. There is currently 13 days left of the campaign, so to find out more details check it out here.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Rise of the Harvester: Book Three 'Homecoming' (2019) by Steve McGinnis - Horror Graphic Novel Review


Rise of the Harvester is a horror graphic novel series that I hadn't heard of before getting the opportunity to review the latest book; Rise of the Harvester: Book 3 'Homecoming'. Obviously having not read the previous books I would be at a disadvantage, though I was curious to find out just how much prior knowledge would be needed. Some spoilers for previous entries to follow. The series is about a supernatural slasher villain known as the Harvester, in the second book 'Con of the Dead' the killer slays his way through the attendees of a horror convention, eventually escaping when the authorities mistake a cosplayer of the Harvester for the killer himself.

'Homecoming' picks up seven hours after the end of the second book. A survivor in an interrogation room tries to tell detective Warner, and Dr. Johnson they got the wrong person, but they don't believe her. Meanwhile a strange murder has occured back in the area that Samuel (the Harvester) used to live when he was alive. The two men travel there to investigate, Warner is sure it is all unrelated to the carnage at the convention, but Johnson thinks otherwise. Events lead them to a showdown with the unstoppable killer, will they be able to finally stop his path of rampage?

Before reading this I did have a quick Google search to get up to speed on what has happened previously, but even without that I don't think it hampered my enjoyment here. The interrogation scene at the start sums up the ending of 'Con of the Dead', while the backstory for Samuel is provided once again, this time by an old lady who lives in the area that the killer grew up in. The artstyle was strange, but I liked it. Panels are quite simple, but the art goes for more of a realistic look, so characters expressions make them easy to read, a pop art look which I thought was decent. Panels on the whole don't have too much background art to them but everything is very clear to follow. I liked that the flashback sequence have a change of artstyle to a far more cartoon look, which helped split it up from the present day parts. The art style was good throughout, displayed best with a few full page spreads of various topics.

There are plenty of gory kills here, and they get inventive, the first time I have seen someone get beaten to death with a cat! Someone else gets a fist punched right through their face, and plenty of people get their heads ripped off, and their intestines spilled. There was a high body count that doesn't spare young children from the Harvester's bloody path. The story here felt like it had most in common with the Halloween franchise, especially with Dr. Johnson who has a bit of Dr. Loomis in him with how he seems both repulsed, and obsessed with Harvester. The killer itself is the strong and silent type, but he has a ghost/demon type child haunting him who spurs him onwards, this helps provide motivation for him that wouldn't be able to exist otherwise. I liked the subtext that maybe the Harvester is a force of nature there to bring balance to a world in which mankind are destroying the planet.

Emulating the slasher films it pays homage to this ends with the possibility of more stories of the Harvester to follow. A simple tale, one that is full of good art, and which has a violent tale. It isn't going to break boundaries of storytelling, but like the slashers it is based on there is enjoyment to be found here. The 90 page third volume in the Rise of the Harvester series is now out to purchase, and can be done so from here, where the other two books can also be purchased.

SCORE:

Thursday, 28 November 2019

The Listing (2017) - Horror Film Review


The award winning The Listing (directed and written by Mario Cerrito III - Human Hibachi) is a tense thriller about just how far a man would go to protect his son. It moves along at such a breakneck speed that there isn't a lot of time to really just sit down and appreciate how utterly demented this can be. The only way to rationalize this is that either the main character has serious underlying mental health issues, or that he is just isn't thinking.

Michael Mourer (Bernard Glincosky - What Death Leaves Behind) has it all, a beautiful wife, wonderful children, a lovely house, and in his job as a realtor he is very successful. One day however his son, Lucas (Kieran Boyle) is abducted from outside his home. Michael and his wife try to contact the police but they fail to show, and after discovering a note left on his car's windshield from the kidnappers he decides to take things into his own hands. They have given Michael twenty four hours to kill six people in exchange for the return of his son. Fail to get the bodies within the time frame, or alert the police to the kidnapping and Lucas will die. Seeing no other choice the desperate man heads out to do what is needed to get his son back.


The way The Listing barrels forward means there is high tension throughout. It is only when you step back a bit you see how bananas the story actually is. Firstly this only all occurs because the police are useless and forget to send out an officer to investigate the abduction. The biggest crazy aspect is Michael himself who all too easily decides to do exactly what the kidnappers ask, and with little to no convincing, even his wife seems happy with what he needs to do. The next step of insanity is that he thinks the best way to get the bodies he needs will be to kill off all visitors to the house showing he is doing the next day, and so with twenty four hours to act he decides to leave it to within a couple of hours of the deadline before starting his slaying. This makes the film a bit more dramatic and thrilling, but it makes Michael a  protagonist whose actions I often found amusing rather than dramatic.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Marvel Zombies Return (2009) - Zombie Graphic Novel Review


I am still working my way through the various Marvel Zombies comics and my latest one to be read is Marvel Zombies Return. While Marvel Zombies 3 and Marvel Zombies 4 were canological they took place in the main Marvel universe. With Return we fittingly return to the main story of the zombified Marvel heroes of Earth-2149. Spoilers for previous entries to follow of course.

At the end of Marvel Zombies 2 Malcolm Cortez teleported the surviving super zombies to an alternate universe. The anti-heroes made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Giant-Man, Wasp, and Luke Cage all end up on Earth-Z. Return takes place over five issues, with different artists and writers doing each one. In issue 1 undead Spider-Man sets out to find a totem said to grant immortality, and ends up getting caught in a battle with Kingpin and the Sinister Six. Issue 2 takes place two years later and sees zombie Giant-Man heading to Stark HQ in order to find some technology that will allow him to power a dimensional teleporter.
Issue 3 takes place two years after this, in Japan and sees zombie Spider-Man teaming up with Wolverine and Kitty Pryde to take on ninja group The Hand and zombie Wolverine. Issue 4 has Hulk returning from his banishment in deep space, he ends up getting infected, and after teaming up with a newly zombified Sentry they set out to consume Earth-Z. The final issue takes place many years in the future, with Earth-Z destroyed, zombie Spider-Man teams up with a new band of Avengers in a last ditch battle to stop the zombie plague once and for all.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ostinato (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


Ostinato is a short horror that runs at just under six minutes. It was completed through the 48 Hour Film Project - Shanghai, and was directed by Luke Luoh who also collaborated on the writing of this. It has also won a few rewards at the October 2019 edition of the Independent Shorts Awards.

Barret Coates stars as bartender John Fields who appears in two different settings here. The main part of the film has John repeatedly seeming to hallucinate that friends of his keep killing him. Wherever he goes he gets these violent visions, but just what is really going on? The second part has John in a white room directly speaking to the camera, these appear a few times edited within the other story.

So the mystery here is just what is happening. Within the six minutes this is clearly revealed with a third act twist that is kinda similar to a certain film involving a clown. I liked the variety on offer here, from being smothered with a pillow, to getting his throat slashed open, and even death by beer can, the effects were good, especially considering the time constraints. As part of the project the creators were in, not only did they have only two days to make this, but they had some other weird constraints in the form of a character, prop, spoken line of dialogue, and genre they were forced to go with. That these elements are integrated smoothly was impressive.

Ostinato is a well made short that features some nice editing and directing, a solid cast of actors, and some good ideas. It is also quite twisted, especially towards the end with the distorted music and the explanation of what has been occuring. With something this fun created in just two days it would be good to see what the director could come up with in a larger time frame.

SCORE:

Monday, 25 November 2019

In the Tall Grass (2019) - Horror Film Review


I have said it plenty of time before, but I just am not a fan of Stephen King's writing, yet this year has been a good year for films of his work with Pet Sematary, It: Chapter 2, Doctor Sleep and this Netflix adaptation of In the Tall Grass. The film is based on a novella King wrote with his son Joe Hill. This is directed by Vincenzo Natali who I was not surprised to discover was the director on Cube, as this feels very similar to that cult classic at times.

Siblings Cal (Avery Whitted) and his pregnant sister Becky (Laysla De Oliveira - iZombie TV series) are travelling across America, and their journey has taken them to Kansas. While stopped briefly by a huge field of tall grass the two hear a young boy shouting for help, saying he has been trapped in the field for days and has been unable to find a way out. As he doesn't sound that far away Cal and Becky head in to find him, but soon not only get seperated from one another, but also discover that they too are now trapped, somehow unable to find the route back to the road. They, and a few others also lost discover the field has the ability to bend not only space, but also time...


Curiosity was the biggest factor in me deciding to watch In the Tall Grass, I just needed to know not only how this could ever work as a feature length film (101 minutes in length), but also what on Earth could happen to keep this interesting. With Natali as director you have someone who must be used to making use of a limited space, and making it seem like it is a much larger one. With Cube each section of the cube was just the same set lit differently, I imagine the field of grass was also utilised in a similar fashion. That series is something I will just keep on going back to as I really was reminded heavily of it. Not only with everywhere looking the same, but the time loss element reminded me heavily of Cube 2: Hypercube, with characters running into past and future versions of themselves. To help create the enormity of the field of grass there are many drone shots used, the wind on the grass often makes it seem like a living entity, most successful when the camera flies up from a character to give the impression of the grass swallowing them.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Nox Mortis (2019) - Horror Video Game Review (iOS)


I don't really play many games on my mobile phone, but after getting an email about horror game Nox Mortis I thought I may as well check it out. This is more of an experience than a game per se, and it is designed specifically with VR in mind, though can also be played in a traditional sense as well.

There is limited set-up but basically you are in a haunted room, and due to being paralyzed with fear you are unable to move. All you can do is turn around on the spot, hoping against hope to survive the random horror coming your way.

Nox Mortis has you in a first person perspective, stood in a room lit with a blood red light. Each game you play is completely randomised and has you experiencing 12 unique scares out of a pool of 20. These include among them a mounted deer head laughing, a giant spider scuttling across the ceiling, a figure appearing at the window, and a doll's head rolling down the corridor towards you. All you have available to combat these terrors is 360 turning movement (using a finger on the screen to move around), as well as a zoom option that as it would suggest zooms in the screen a bit. Each play lasts a few minutes depending on how well you do, and it always ends (as far as I can tell) with your demise. I played through this around three times and felt like I had seen most of what the game has to offer. I liked the visuals and the sound design was actually not that bad. Plenty of knocking sounds, creepy laughter, and other traditional horror noises.

If you are reading this and thinking it sounds very limited then you would be right. However Nox Mortis is free to download and play and so it is hard to complain about not too much content. There are no microtransactions, the only concession to being free is having to watch a short advert if you wish to play again once you have died. I played this entirely in 2D, as with everything it would be better in VR, I don't even need to try it to know that. Despite that the first time I died I did give out a small yelp as I was not expecting it! Sure this is a wafer thin experience, but it is also free, and it is of a high enough quality that it is worth a go.

SCORE:



Saturday, 23 November 2019

Sweet Revenge (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


Sweet Revenge is a seven minute short horror that has elements of comedy to it. It was directed by Ron Millkie who is best known for his role in Friday 13th as Officer Dorf, and was written by Phillip Pitta and Joseph Stabile, with Pitta also starring here.

Pitta plays Jim Hanover who several years in the past was a key witness to a brutal attack by Luke Briar (Nicholas M. Garofolo - Deranged Foxhole). Now the man has been released from prison and wastes no time in telling Jim that he is coming for him.

I liked Garofolo's role as the detective character in Deranged Foxhole, so here it was fun to see him in a more evil role as the deranged Briar, he had a good line in manic grimaces that brought some humour to what happens here, and his size made him quite imposing. The story itself is a simple enough one, but it is told in a decent fashion. Technically this wasn't bad, though some audio sound issues with background noise popping up whenever anyone speaks. On the subject of sound though the music here really added some atmosphere and tension.

The story for Sweet Revenge may not go anywhere too surprising but it was competently done, and I found myself enjoying this revenge thriller. A fun performance by Garofolo makes for a thriller worth the time.

SCORE:

Friday, 22 November 2019

Marvel Zombies 4 (2010) - Horror Graphic Novel Review


Earlier this year I was happy to discover that in the years since I read the first couple of Marvel Zombies a lot more of them had appeared. I excitedly snapped up as many as I could find...and then promptly didn't read them. Now with a blissful week off of my day job I have returned to this cool series once again. Marvel Zombies 4 is a direct sequel to Marvel Zombies 3, and again takes place in the main Marvel universe.

After the events of the last graphic novel, in which the invading creatures from the Marvel Zombies universe were wiped out at the A.R.M.O.R (alternate reality monitoring and operational response) HQ it is discovered that one of the zombies managed to escape. Deadpool, now reduced to just a head had been rescued by Simon Garth, who himself is also a zombie, though one created by Voodoo magic. The two of them end up at the base of Black Talon, who recognising the deadly power of the virus that Deadpool is infected with intends to sell him as a weapon to The Hood, who is secretly being controlled by Dorammu. Meanwhile a special A.R.M.O.R team led by Morbius, and calling themselves the 'Midnight Sons' head out to find and destroy Deadpool before he is able to infect anyone else.

The previous Marvel Zombies story seemed less complicated, this time around there are a few different moving parts. Again the cast are mainly made up of obscure Marvel characters, referred to as Z-list within the novel. As well as the vampire Morbius you have the werewolf Jack Russell, the witch Jennifer Kale, the Satanist Hellstorm, as well as Man-Thing. As usual I class any Marvel characters who haven't appeared in recent films as obscure ones, but even here with these it seems there is some admission that some of these are quite unknown. Simon Garth was a character created in the 1970's, he fits well being a zombie, after the main story that takes place over four issues there are also three additional stories - Altar of the Damned!, Zombie! and Night of the Walking Dead which are all reprints from Simon Garth's original appearance in Tales of the Zombie.


I thought the story was more interesting than the previous entry, and it is an evolution of the main story in that the Marvel Zombies virus manifests itself in a different form than before. This makes for some striking panels bathed in red, as a later development is that virus infused red rain begins to fall over an island. There are lots and lots of undead here, made up of both fish-men ghouls, as well as normal zombies. This made for some gory and bloody scenes of action that had more of a horror oriented angle. The idea to use the monsters of the Marvel universe rather than the more traditional heroes lent this story more of a horror feel. This doesn't affect Deadpool though who maintains his wise cracking ways regardless of what is going on. The art by Kev Walker in particular was very strong for this, it has plenty of large panels with plenty of colour to them. The three Simon Garth stories after the main one are in black and white, but maintain a dark tone to what happens in them.

Each additional story in the Marvel Zombies saga features more and more obscure characters, but due to the art and the story itself I was still very interested in this. I liked the idea of a team of monsters teaming up to fight undead. Some elements of this really make me wish the original novels had been more heroes versus undead rather than undead heroes versus world. Still we are finally getting more of that now, so as always I am interested to see where this wonderful series ends up next.

SCORE:

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Frankenstein Theory (2013) - Found Footage Horror Film Review


I love getting recommendations as it really is an opportunity to see something I would have otherwise missed. Back in July when putting up my review of the anthology film Tales of Frankenstein I received a comment on my Facebook page from Mikal CG saying I should check out the Andrew Weiner directed movie The Frankenstein Theory. This is a found footage horror with a premise that had me hooked right away, having seen it, it does suffer many of the pitfalls this type of movie often brings with it, yet I also found the setting, and the mystery to be worth the watch.

Professor Jonathan Venkenhein (Kris Lemche - Final Destination 3, Ginger Snaps) has become obsessed with a theory that most people thinks is insane. He believes that the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was actually an account of a real life event that was disguised as fiction. This wild theory of his has caused him to be kicked out of university, as well as put a strain on his relationship with his girlfriend. In a last ditch attempt to show the world he isn't crazy he has put together a small film crew, and with them decides to head up into Antarctica in order to get documented proof that this creature does in fact exist...


I loved the idea behind this, within the context of a found footage it really was something different. With found footage though the more believable the acting, and the more believable the footage is, the more creepy it can feel. It starts off well enough with the traditional text on screen giving the set-up, but then it doesn't explain just how this footage came to be found and pieced together. Either the footage can just be shown as it was without context, or it can be edited together to make a cohesive story with an explanation given. Here it is the later, the story flows naturally, there is text on screen to indicate whenever it is a new day, yet it has some artistic licence with the inclusion of music playing at times. Music by Beethoven appears at a few points, while music plays out over the end credits. It fits the film well, and makes for a good ending, but I couldn't help but be removed slightly by wondering just who decided to add music to what was a tragic event, while they were editing the footage together.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Fare (2018) - Horror Film Review


I really loved the idea behind the D.C Hamilton directed mystery romance thriller The Fare. It falls into the sub genre of the Groundhog Day style repetitive time loop, though this time taking place entirely in a taxi, and the loop lasting all of twenty minutes. While this is not exactly horror it does have its moments, and blends together a romantic storyline with these elements.

Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi - Battle Los Angeles) is a taxi driver who has been sent by his dispatcher (Jason Stuart) to pick up a fare out in the middle of nowhere. He discovers a woman named Penny (Brinna Kelly - The Doll Collector, and who also wrote this) and they immediately have a connection. Twenty minutes into the journey Penny mysteriously vanishes, with no explanation for this occurrence Harris is told by his dispatcher to just reset his meter and head back. After resetting the meter Harris is once again on his way to pick up a fare out in the desert in the middle of nowhere, again his passenger is Penny, and the same thing occurs time and time again. Slowly Harris begins to realise he is stuck in a time loop with the woman, who also is aware of the phenomenon, together they try and find a way to break the cycle, but slowly start to fall in love as they do so.


I do love time travel and time loops in different types of media, from the obvious Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day, to the Black Mirror episode White Bear, and the Netflix show Russian Doll, this is a concept that works a lot, especially with horror. I liked how The Fare does something a little different, it felt unique that the character stuck in a time loop doesn't initially even realise he is in one. I had also not seen one of these types of idea set over such a limited scope as well. Nearly the entire film takes place inside the taxi cab, while being out in the desert there is nothing to distract. Instead you are brought into the dynamic between the two main characters. This is at its best when it is pushing the boundaries of the mystery of the loop, Harris trying to find ways to break out of the cycle, and the more horror based elements that comes from this. There was a lot of mystery to it all, I feel it could work if this was never explained, but here there is a pretty detailed reason revealed for just what is happening, with the film even carrying on a good ten to fifteen minutes after all the answers have been provided.

Monday, 18 November 2019

The Cunning Man (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


The award winning The Cunning Man is a short fantastical film that was directed by Zoe Dobson, and written by Ali Cook (who also appears in a role here). While it is not horror, it is instead based on folklore, and specifically on a man from history - John Harris, who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century who was known as a 'cunning man', and who is said to have used folklore magic to heal.

Afran Harries (Simon Armstrong - Game of Thrones TV show) spends his time gathering up animal corpses out in the countryside. The local knackerman (Cook) comes up with a plan with a friend to swindle Harries out of the corpses he has collected, so that they can sell them for a profit. However, Harries has his own ideas for exactly what will happen to the animals...

This is just over twelve minutes in length and was shot with a lot of care and attention. The rural setting, as well as the cast combine to give this a realistic feel that plays well with the more magical elements of this. This had some nice cinematography to it as well with some well framed shots, such as the pile of animal corpses, and the whole set-up of the ritual to be performed. It made a change to have something that could so easily have been horror not go down that route, and while I did expect something different I was pleased with how this all turned out. There is a limited cast but all were excellent and fitted the roles they played well. I also liked the use of music, during one particular moment the music cuts out entirely to build tension, and works as intended.

The Cunning Man was a wonderfully shot little film that worked as a cohesive package. This was a perfect length with everything included being essential to the tale of selflessness vs greed. The Cunning Man premiered at the Morbido Film Festival on 1st November.

SCORE:



Sunday, 17 November 2019

Crepitus (2018) - Horror Film Review


I have to say I had been looking forward to watching the Haynze Whitmore directed clown horror Crepitus. Over the past decade there has been many great clown based horror films, such as It, Clown and the fantastic Terrifier. With the horror legend Bill Moseley being involved here I expected great things. While Moseley himself is as fantastic as ever, this film was let down by a bit of an aimless plot.

Eli (Caitlin Williams) and her younger sister Sam (Chalet Lizette Brannan - Terror House) live with their abusive alcoholic mother (Eve Mauro - Age of the Living Dead TV show, Land of the Lost) in their grandfathers dilapidated house.They spend their days trying to avoid the wrath of their perpetually furious mum, while investigating the house to try and discover the cause of strange noises within the walls. Unknown to them a potentially immortal cannibal clown (Moseley - The Devil's Rejects, Repo! The Genetic Opera) resides in the basement.


I had high hopes for this movie but it soon become clear that it wasn't going to appeal to me. The majority of the film takes place in the house, with most of the screen time dedicated to the two sisters. Their story begins in a really dull way with them trying to find out the cause of strange noises. This didn't make for a riveting story. Better would be the interactions they have with their vile mum, played with demented glee by Mauro. She mentally and physically abuses her children, but the effect of this is lost due to the children's monotone performances. They are children so it isn't fair to be too harsh on them, and it isn't really even that they are bad actors, it is more that whether they are meant to be happy, sad, angry, or scared they always look and speak in the exact same measured way. It may well be how they were directed to act, maybe the years of abuse was meant to have numbed them, but it didn't make for exciting protagonists, or people I cared about.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Nefarious (2019) - Horror Film Review


Richard Rowntree's (Dogged) Nefarious is a frustrating film to review purely for the fact that at just over the halfway mark it transforms genres completely with a twist I just did not see coming. Due to how late this occurs I can't spoil it, so I will have to dance around that part a bit. For the first forty five minutes of this I was concerned this wasn't actually a horror, it wouldn't be the first time I had agreed to review a film only to discover the genre didn't really fit my blog. The film felt like a crime drama, something that would be on TV in the evening, but then this abruptly, and fantastically changes tracks.

Wasters Darren, Lou, Jo and Mas owe a lot of money to a local criminal and so need to quickly raise the funds before he makes an example out of them. Jo is a cleaner and works for a wealthy man; Marcus (Toby Wynn-Davies - Escape from Cannibal Farm, Dogged), coincidentally enough she had happened to recently accidentally discover the combination to his safe. Desperate to get money quickly Darren comes up with a plan to break into his house in order to rob him, they know Marcus will be out, and that the only person they will need to deal with is his mentally challenged brother Clive (Gregory A. Smith - Dogged). However things do not go exactly according to plan...


I spent a lot of this thinking it was something different to what it turned out to be. Even during this time I was enjoying Nefarious, I figured it would go something along the lines of Cruel Summer in which the group would end up torturing and killing Clive. What I really liked about this first section was that it is established early on that most the film is taking place in the past, as it keeps going forward in time to show a police interrogation room in a similar fashion to Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. It was fun watching these interrogation scenes and trying to guess what was going to happen, by the clues the detectives gave as they ask questions, and by who is, and who isn't present in these scenes. It created a real aura of mystery that kept me involved despite a cast of mostly nasty characters.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Jurassic Night (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


Andrea Ricca excels in making short sci-fi and horror films, many of them only a few minutes in length. At first glance they don't look great, featuring basic CGI and often telling a very similar story. Dig a little deeper and it becomes more impressive when you take into account that Ricca creates these almost completely by himself. Not only starring in the majority of them, but being responsible for the creation of the CGI and most other aspects.

In Jurassic Night there is an accident at a genetics company, resulting in the dinosaurs they had created getting loose. A man (Ricci) discovers this, and soon arms himself with a pistol and brings the fight to the escapees, taking on raptors, and even a T-Rex as he does so.

This is two and a half minutes of madness, with the nonplussed man fighting a variety of Playstation 2 era computer generated dinosaurs. These creatures never look like they fit into the real world they inhabit, and there is some lighting issues on them that make them stand out even more. Also the plot is a comfortable one, seen in many of his other films such as Spider Danger, Aliens Night and The Giant Scorpion. With Ricca's films you come to expect this though, it is part of the charm for this self created style of movies he makes. The D.I.Y attitude cannot help but be charmful, there is something endearing about watching these, that are always made to entertain first and foremost. I could watch these all day.

SCORE:



Monday, 11 November 2019

She Will Return (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


She Will Return is chapter 2 of Jeff Payne's The Pale Faced Lady saga, the first part being released back in spring. While I liked the idea behind that one it did feel a bit traditional in how it was set out. Also it didn't really tell a story in a satisfying way. Despite some issues I had with the camera work it was still fairly decent, thanks to Payne's sublime editing skills. She Will Return tells somewhat of a more rounded story.

John L. Altom (The Stranger TV series) stars as Father, a man who not only lost his wife due to an accident, but who has recently lost his only daughter (Rachel Taylor). He stays secluded in his remote dilapidated home, yearning to be able to see his daughter one last time. However he really should be careful what he wishes for...

Again here the editing is wonderful, there is an added injection of art-house style quick edits of the daughter while she was still alive that I found to be very effective. I also enjoyed how the pale faced lady is hidden in the background of many scenes, similar to what they did in The Haunting of Hill House. It made for some creepy visuals, especially when she is in the background of scenes Father is also in. I also found the whole after credits sequence to be fantastic, it was the highlight of this ten minute short for me, and had genuine moments of horror. I did feel that the majority of this, like The Pale Faced Lady before it was a bit underdeveloped, while I liked how this was made, not much really happens. It seemed like this ended just as it was really getting started. It does seem to tie into the first film in a clever way though so watching that first will add a bit to your enjoyment of this. This is a part in a saga, however many shorts that turns out to be, but I still would have preferred a resolution, rather than this feeling like it was a slice out of a bigger plot going on.

The quality of She Will Return is obvious to see, and from a directing and cinematography perspective the films of Payne will always draw me in like a moth to flame. The story itself though I felt to be the weakest part, it can sometimes feel traditional to a fault. Saying all that I do eagerly await to see where this goes next, colour me interested. Check it out for yourself below.

SCORE:



Saturday, 9 November 2019

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review


Zombieland came out during a time when zombies really where in vogue, nowadays they seem to have slightly slipped off the radar a tiny bit. The movie was quite funny, and well made, but after a TV show based on it failed I really didn't expect there to ever be a sequel. To celebrate the ten year anniversary a sequel has indeed been made, and it brings together all the original cast members, as well as director Ruben Fleischer (Venom, 30 Minutes or Less). Zombieland: Double Tap isn't something I had heard much about, so when I went to see the film I was expecting to be disappointed. While it doesn't do much differently to what came before it was nice to reunite with all these old characters.

Ten years after zombie apocalypse, and ten years after the events of Zombieland, survivors Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson - War for the Planet of the Apes, Natural Born Killers), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Wichita (Emma Stone - The Amazing Spider-Man), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin - Signs) are living a stable, if dull life at the White House. After Columbus proposes to Wichita, fearing commitment she decides to leave the group, Little Rock going along with her due to wanting to find people of her own age to spend time with. Around a month later Wichita returns with news that her sister has ditched her after meeting a pacifist named Berkeley (Avan Jogia - Shaft). Fearing for her safety due to the appearance of evolved zombies that are near indestructible, the group set out to find her, along with ditsy newcomer Madison (Zoey Deutch).


This is more of the same, but after a gap of ten years this really was no bad thing. The comedy hasn't changed which on occasion does make some of the jokes feel a bit dated. The format is also similar. Columbus narrates the story as it goes along, much like before, and for his character his many rules are still a focal point of a lot of the humour. I really enjoy these fourth wall breaking moments though, his rules physically showing up on screen (well CGI, but are able to be affected by stuff happening) were always amusing. The 'zombie kill of the week' awards are back, and even more crazy than they were before, this time upgraded to 'zombie kill of the year' awards. Occasionally the characters are left behind to then show a little skit of a random survivor killing zombies in funny ways, my favourite of these being one part set in Italy, not that I can say more as I don't wish to spoil the surprise. The movie starts the same way with zombie attacks playing out over a song, this time it has the group battling zombies in slow motion on the lawns of the White House as Metallica's Master of Puppets song plays. This was a very cool way to start things off.

Friday, 8 November 2019

MediEvil (2019) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)


In the late 1990's a fun Tim Burton-esque horror adventure game MediEvil was released, having loved the demo of it I went and and purchased it on its day of release. Well, time is cylindrical as a few weeks back a remake of MediEvil was released on the Playstation 4, and again I purchased it on day one. When I reviewed the original game back in 2014 I pointed out quite a few issues I had encountered, but would these issues be rectified for this remake?

As I have technically already reviewed this game, albeit an older version I will concentrate here more on what is new and changed. To briefly sum up the story...evil sorcerer Zarok believed defeated by legendary knight Daniel Fortesque hundreds of years in the past has returned to wreak havoc across the kingdom of Gallowmere. Part of his plan includes bringing the dead back to life to create an undead army, however this magic also resurrects Fortesque. While Daniel was remembered as the saviour of the land when Zarok first attacked with his army, he actually fell at the very start of the battle, and so newly revived he sees this as an opportunity to finally be the hero the world thinks he already is.


So MediEvil is a third person level based adventure game that sees you playing as Fortesque battling your way across twenty or so levels, all with a horror theme to them, and music that sounds very much like something Danny Elfman would come up with. The remake remains extremely faithful to the original, sometimes to a fault. The level layout is identical, as is the enemy placement, and bosses. This makes muscle memory soon kick in, and so I knew exactly what I should be doing. It is a shame then that along with this faithful recreation comes many of the problems I always had with the controls. Daniel is a slippery character that makes the combat often chaotic, with your character often unable to avoid attacks. There are a few platform sections that become needlessly tricky due to the slidy feel of your character, made more frustrating by the fact that you lose an entire life bar of energy should you fall into water/off a cliff. The controls have improved somewhat I noticed, the level Pools of the Ancient Dead I always approached with dread due to the narrow pathways around pools of water. This time around though it just may be the easiest level in the entire game. The camera was always terrible in the original game, and here it is improved, but that doesn't mean it is any good yet, as I found myself wrestling with it on more than one occasion. Like before it is not uncommon for the camera to get stuck on scenery and so remains a bit of a pain.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Art of the Dead (2019) - Horror Film Review


Art of the Dead is an indie horror film written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky (Party Bus to Hell). Much like that one this features plenty of over the top acting, one dimensional characters, an entertaining plot, and some make-up effects that both look good at times, and bad at others. One part that unquestionably shines is the many paintings by Clint Carney that feature here. They not be masterpieces as the story asserts they are, yet they are still good and added a lot to the general plot.

Businessman Dylan (Lukas Hassel) and his wife Gina (Jessica Morris) purchase a series of paintings by a master 19th century artist (Danny Tesla as Dorian Wilde) in a charity auction. The seven paintings are of a series of animals and represent the seven deadly sins. The couple put up the paintings in their mansion, but unknown to them these hold a deadly power, able to corrupt victims into becoming the personification of each sin. The couples son, Louis (Zachary Chyz) and his girlfriend Kim (Alex Rinehart - They're Inside, The Black Room) happen to be visiting during the time of the purchase and soon Kim finds herself in a race against time to stop the paintings evil influences before it completely destroys the family.


Many aspects of this horror were cheesy, which isn't helped by a generally weak script. There were elements of the plot that especially later on led to me being taken out of the film due to the wild things that happen. Occasionally the story beats here are defeated by designs that make this feel a bit low budget, even if the ideas are nice enough. I loved the idea of these paintings corrupting people, and this was done in a variety of ways. Louis becomes the focal point of Dorian Wilde, whose brought to life in a very over the top way by Tesla. Each victim becomes exaggerated in how they act which in a film like this actually kinda works. Gina gets possessed by lust, Louis by wrath, the two young children by sloth, Dylan by greed, and daughter Donna (Cynthia Aileen Strahan) by envy. Each plays up to their sin in an increasingly dramatic way, with Donna in particular becoming a highlight to the growing mania, her scenes were always a delight to watch. The acting is never amazing, but at least with the concept this can be hidden. I found the protagonist Kim to be the most dull of the characters here, there just wasn't much to her character and compared to everyone else she just seemed a bit lifeless. The wider cast includes among its actors Tara Reid (Alone in the Dark, Urban Legends), Richard Grieco (22 Jump Street) and prolific actor Robert Donavan who were all used well in their small roles.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Doctor Sleep (2019) - Horror Film Review


I try my best to watch any horror film that plays at the cinema. While most the stuff I review is what people have sent me, I do like to watch horror on the big screen when I can. I wasn't particularly feeling Doctor Sleep though. As I have stated on many occasions I don't really think the works of Stephen King are that great (I am trying to read more of his stuff though, currently a quarter of the way into Needful Things). I also don't think The Shining was as stunning as it has been made out to be. I think Stanley Kubrick is an astounding director, but that film just couldn't match the expectations I had for it when I first saw it many years ago. Doctor Sleep is a sequel to that movie specifically, even going as far as to include a remade clip or two from it, and with horror director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Hush) at the helm it was in good hands.

Danny (Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace, Trainspotting) is a recovering alcoholic haunted by the experience he had as a kid at the remote, haunted Overlook Hotel. Now grown up he lives in a small American town where he works as an orderly at a nursing home. A young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) psychically contacts him one day, as the pair both share the 'shining' ability, that gives them access to a whole host of psychic powers, from astral projection, to mind reading. Abra has discovered there is a demonic group of travellers that are led by a woman called Rose (Rebecca Ferguson - Life, The Girl on the Train). This group travel around America searching out children who can 'shine', in order to kill them and consume their light. Eventually Danny is convinced to help out Abra to try and put a stop to these dangerous people.


I found quite a bit of Doctor Sleep to fittingly be quite dull and tiring to watch. I put most of this down to me though, I was not in the right mood to be watching this, while the film being over two hours in length couldn't help but make me feel like there could be better ways to spend my last day off before returning to work. Thankfully the second half of this has much more going on in it, and while I was still clock watching I was able to quite enjoy that part a lot more than the first. While this is a sequel to The Shining it is a brand new unrelated story. The most carried over is how much trauma Danny experienced from that time, and how it has shaped his life. No actor from the first film appears (aside from unrelated background characters) but the characters themselves do, from Danny and his Mum, as well as the various ghosts of the Overlook Hotel that mostly appear in flashback sequences (even Jack himself, though not played by Nicholson). As the trailer shows the Overlook Hotel itself makes an appearance, and I don't know if it was just nostalgia but I loved returning to this place, the part that most delighted me and what kept me going throughout knowing it would turn back up at some point.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

The Evil Within: The Interlude (2017) - Horror Graphic Novel Review


The first The Evil Within graphic novel was released to serve as a prologue to the first game in the survival horror video game series. The Evil Within: The Interlude in a similar fashion is designed to help set up the events, or at least the themes of The Evil Within 2. By using the protagonist of that series - Detective Sebastian Castellanos there isn't so much wiggle room to make something too horror orientated. Being an official graphic novel it would be strange if Sebastian got caught up in anything overtly horror based and to then make no mention of it in the second game. While the previous book combined four issues, this one combines just two, and so makes for a slimmer story.

Not long after the events of The Evil Within Sebastian is back at his job, cleared for duty despite the fantastical tale he told in his police report, stories of being trapped in someone else's mind due to a device named STEM. Him and his new partner Tobias are investigating a series of murders that have been committed by a serial killer that appears to be obsessed with nursery rhymes, however unknown to the pair this killer might actually have some connection to the mysterious organisation responsible for the creation of the STEM device. That is if any of this is actually true as Sebastian may be dreaming this happening, he may be suffering from delusions, or he may have never actually ever left the nightmare reality he got trapped in during the first game.


The art style for this second novel is a lot more realistic, in a stylised way, it looses the more cartoon like bright colours and goes for a more murky tone with moody visuals and dark environments. It brought to mind more the style of the Silent Hill graphic novels, though with more consistent artwork that made it easier to follow than those often confusing ones. This too is quite a confusing story due to the amount of swapping around, with Sebastian getting caught in dream sequences, only one of which features a familiar monster from the game series. I was even more confused due to the apparent rewrite of history for the protagonist. Previously his wife had gone missing, and his daughter had died in a house fire, but here suddenly Sebastian is still with his wife Myra, and instead their daughter went missing while out playing. It all makes sense by the end but it led to be having to have a quick Wikipedia read of the first games story just to make sure I had remembered it correctly.

As an in between story this at times felt kind of pointless, the set-up for The Evil Within 2 is minimal, and what happens doesn't really affect anything. As much as I enjoyed the brief read of this story, and enjoyed the jumbled up way it has of telling its story it added nothing. There are some interesting ideas for why Sebastian is seeing so much strange stuff, and I particularly liked the double page spread of him explaining to his therapist what happened to him, due to how funny it sounded. There is also some bloody scenes here that the good artwork helps display.

The Interlude was a good enough graphic novel, however it is a bit shallow and I could never shake the feeling I had that this just wasn't needed at all. Unless I'm mistaken it adds nothing to the series, and as such it just is not essential reading.

SCORE:

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Countdown (2019) - Horror Film Review


When I first saw the trailer for Countdown (written and directed by Justin Dec)  I wasn't that taken with it. It seemed like yet another by the numbers horror that brought to mind One Missed Call. However everyone else seemed to really be looking forward to it. The Fright Meter Awards committee I'm a part of seemed excited to see it, and I overheard people at my day job saying how much they wanted to see it. Then, an hour before I was due to go see it for myself I received a text from my sister saying she found it so scary that she couldn't last till the end and had left halfway through, followed soon after by her boyfriend. This gave me a greater desire to check it out for myself, to see if I could finally find a horror legitimately scary again.

Quinn (Elizabeth Lail - Unintended) is a nurse who one day learns that one of her patients believes the operation he is due to have is going to kill him, due to a phone app called 'Countdown' he downloaded that allegedly predicts when someone is going to die. She decides to download it for herself, thinking it to be nonsense, but later learns her patient did indeed die. Her own stated time of death is in four days time, and after a series of frightening hallucinations she starts to believe the app is legitimate. She ends up teaming with a man named Matt (Jordan Calloway - Black Lightning, Riverdale) who is also destined to die within the next few days, and together they set out to try and find a way to survive past their predicted death dates.


So this does indeed share similarities with One Missed Call, but more so it felt this was familiar to Drag Me to Hell, The Ring, and the Final Destination series. Having a specific time frame with which to cheat death was prevalent in all of those movies and so from the beginning this never felt too original. This has a strong first act, but this became to the detriment of the overall film as all the most creepy parts were front loaded here. By around the halfway point the horror has mostly been diluted, with it just being a race against time for Quinn and two others to save themselves. I felt that it would have benefitted this more if there had been more victims, as the victim count is low here, where something like the Final Destination films have more victims, and more inventive deaths. I liked the idea that if you changed what you had planned to do in order to prevent getting killed then you would still die anyway, but with each death shown it gets less and less unique. This wasn't helped by the scariest kill in the film being shown in the trailer, so I knew it was coming.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Beloved Beast (2018) - Horror Film Review


When I sat down to begin watching Beloved Beast I was a bit taken aback to discover it was nearly three hours long. Sometimes people just don't know when to edit and so I was worried I was going to be in for a snooze-fest. However, there was only really one scene that felt a bit over long, surprisingly the vast majority of this horror was excellent.

After being in a car crash that left both her parents dead, a young girl named Nina (Sanae Loutsis - The Black String) is sent to live with her Aunt Erma (Joy Yaholkovsky). Erma doesn't want to be looking after the girl as she would much rather be drinking and doing drugs, and so she neglects the girl, leaving her home alone for days at a time. Elsewhere a dangerous mentally retarded man (Jonathan Holbrook, who also wrote and directed this) escapes from a nearby asylum, and stumbles across Nina as she is getting attacked by some local teenagers in the woods. He kills her attackers, and due to wearing a rabbit mask that she had lost earlier, and with the head injuries she sustained in the car accident, she identifies him as her saviour and invites him to come live with her. However it starts to become more and more apparent to the girl that the man she calls Harvey cannot control his murderous impulses, and soon friend and foe alike are in danger of the 'Rabbit King' and his wooden mallet. The killers actual name is Milton, but for the sake of this review he will be known as Harvey due to that being the name he is most referred to as by the protagonist.


I loved this film, from the very start I was drawn in to this very bleak world. It starts off with the car crash scene which showed off the great make-up effects for corpses, the blood looks congealed and plentiful, a visually attractive choice that worked so well for the many, many corpses, this has quite a high body count! Often it would be hard to identify with a main character who is so obviously twisted, yet by setting the film in such a nasty place means that the majority of the victims are more than deserving. I did think it was a bit over the top just how many degenerates and criminals live in the town, but this is specifically brought up in one scene in which policeman Paul (Morgen Johnson - Grimm) has a conversation with his superior about why such a small town needs eight coroners. It is still pretty ridiculous that on one small walk Nina gets robbed at gunpoint, witnesses a kidnapping and a murder, and then nearly gets murdered by Satanists! A bit over the top for sure but it does make the scenes of violence more satisfying.