Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Extra Ordinary (2019) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Extra Ordinary is an Irish horror comedy that for the most part is sweet and innocent, yet has the occasional moment of high violence and gore. Directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, this films humour is never overtly funny, but at the same time doesn't do anything to offend. The simple story told in a mostly family friendly way, again, aside from the moments of high violence.

Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) is a kind and lonely driving instructor in a small Irish town, who also has the gift of being able to contact the dead. Initially Martin Martin (Barry Ward) contacts her in order to help him exorcise the spirit of his dead wife, who is causing him no end of trouble at home. However, after his teenage daughter, Sarah (Emma Coleman) is found comatose and floating above her bed, Martin instead begs Rose to help return her to normal. The girl has been chosen as part of a demonic sacrifice, that washed up one-hit wonder rock star, Christian Winter (Will Forte - Gravity Falls) is intending to perform in order to make a comeback. To counter this Rose and Martin team up in order to collect ectoplasm from seven different ghosts, which is said to be the only way to return the girl to normal.

While there are a whole host of side characters it felt like a lot of the film rested on the shoulders of Higgins, Ward, and Forte. It's a good job that all were perfectly cast, especially Forte's wonderfully over the top Christian Winter who was dramatic, flamboyant and cheesy in every scene he appeared in. All three characters get flashbacks at one point or another, Winter's was the best, his one-hit wonder song shown as part of this. With Rose, her father was a local exorcist who made plenty of instructional videos, such as how to deal with 'Gloating' (floating goats), these are intercut throughout the movie and are made to look like eighties VHS tapes, complete with low quality footage, and slightly distorted audio. All of those moments were wonderful.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Slashening: The Final Beginning (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Way back in 2016 I did a news post about an Indiegogo campaign running to raise funds to make a sequel to the comedy horror film The Slashening. Well some four years later and the film has been finished. Slashening: The Final Beginning is once again written and directed by Brandon Bassham (The Slashening, Fear Town, USA) and sticks with the type of humour his previous movies shared. There will be unavoidable spoilers for the first film to follow.

Five years after the events of The Slashening, in which a house full of girls (and a whole stream of pizza delivery guys) were murdered by a sack mask wearing maniac, and Madison (Addie Weyrich) has moved to Brooklyn after the suicide of her father. She has joined a support group for people affected by murder, and she reveals that her father was plagued with depression after holding himself responsible for the death of all his pizza restaurant staff at the hands of the sack mask wearing killer. The group is led by Pat (Patrick Foy - The Slashening, Fear Town, USA) who himself survived that horrific event. Her appearance at the group starts a chain of disappearances, unbeknown to Madison a new sack mask wearing killer has appeared, and for some reason has chosen the members of the support group as its targets...

I feel it would have been far easier to choose the final girl of the first film as the focus for this one. To instead make the connection via the pizza guy montage sequence (by far one of the highlights of that first film) was such a cool decision. To have a throwaway scene mean so much to the main character here worked wonderfully. Of course there is Pat as well, Foy reprising this character yet again, and he was as good as he always is. Madison didn't really have much to her character, she appears throughout but she never feels centre stage and just faded into the background a bit. The prologue to the movie features a completely different cast of characters, and was something which had been shown during the initial campaign to raise funds. This sequence still manages to fit in well, and has a great standout character in the form of Greg (Carl Foreman Jr.) whose bright chatty persona works at summing up the entirety of the first film.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review

2017's The Babysitter was such a gem to me. Often comedy horrors never seem to get the comedy aspect right for me, yet with its cast of interesting and eclectic characters I found it to be frequently laugh out loud with the funny script and silly moments of extreme horror. I was very excited then when I heard a sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen was due for release. This sequel features pretty much the entire cast of characters returning, and all the same actors reprising their roles. Also, McG (The Babysitter, Terminator: Salvation) returns to direct this. This is a sequel in every sense of the word, and it doesn't really try to stray too far from the formula of the first film. As such, if you didn't like that one then you really won't like this one.

It has been two years since the events of The Babysitter in which Cole (Judah Lewis) survived a night where his babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving) and her friends, John (Andrew Bachelor), Max (Robbie Amell), Allison (Bella Thorne), and Sonya (Hana Mae Lee) tried to kill him as part of a Satanic ritual. He is now at high school, and quite the loner. Despite all he went through there was no evidence any of what he experienced happened, with all the bodies mysteriously vanishing. As such he is seen as a nutcase by all except for his best friend, Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind). Even his parents think he imagined the whole incident. It is when he learns they intend to send him away to a special psychiatric school that Cole accepts an invite from Melanie to head away to the lake for a weekend of partying. However, his weekend plans are ruined with the sudden reemergence of the Satanic cult, returned from Hell, once again planning to use him as part of their ritual to achieve immortality. Cole teams up with new girl, Phoebe (Jenna Ortega - Insidious: Chapter 2) in order to survive to dawn, at which point the demented cult will be forced to return back to the afterlife.

I spent most the first act eagerly anticipating the arrival of the cult, and that scene really doesn't disappoint. I love the characters here and it was great to see much of the humour is just as literally laugh out loud as before. Amell's Max is the highlight once again, I think every single line he says in the film at least made me smile. Much like with the first movie it is just so funny how much Max likes Cole, despite doing his best to earnestly kill him. That character really gets all the best lines. Some of the bad guys got killed early on previously, so it was nice to see the actors get more time in their roles. This becomes fourth wall breaking at times, most seen with token black character John who comments that he was the first to die last time, but that he is glad to see changes in a post Jordan Peele world. This is the type of sequel where if you hadn't seen the first not much at all would really make sense. The film expects you to know these characters and what they have gone through. While there are brief flashback sequences using clips from The Babysitter they serve more as a gentle reminder than a way for new viewers to catch up.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Control: AWE (2020) - Horror Video Game Expansion Review (Playstation 4)

AWE is the second expansion for the horror video game Control and one that I was really looking forward to playing. This was both because the first expansion, The Foundation was so enjoyable, and also because it was a crossover with Alan Wake. In anticipation I had played through both that game, as well as its sequel/spinoff, Alan Wake's American Nightmare. I have to say I was a mite bit disappointed with what was given here, my overall impressions being that it was merely just ok.

Jesse Faden, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control receives a strange message from the infamous missing author, Alan Wake. Via the form of narration of a story she is told to head to the elevator where she discovers she now has access to a previously unreachable floor, the Investigations Sector. This floor had been purposely sealed off some years previously after Dr. Hartman (a key character from Alan Wake), who was being kept there due to being infected with the Darkness (the evil force of that game) managed to escape his confinement. Now the Hiss has managed to also infect him, and the two different possessing forms have made him into even more of a threat. Jesse is, in a roundabout way tasked by Wake to find a way to stop the monster escaping the Investigations Sector.

The Foundation was so enjoyable as it was a completely new looking area. With AWE (which stands for 'altered world event') though the floor it takes place on look identical to th look to the rest of Control. It is made up of grey sterile office areas, engineering areas and large lifeless rooms. The Investigations Sector is split into three areas, each one dedicated to the investigation into a different AWE. In each of these you have to find the Dr. Hartman monster and using battery puzzles turn on the power in whatever pitch black arena he happens to be in, in order to get him to flee to the next area. Being possessed by the Darkness he can only thrive in dark environments. For this new expansion you get access to a new weapon form, essentially sticky grenades, this was a decent addition. Weirdly though, the power-ups you get are low level, which is strange when the power-ups you got during The Foundation were new higher levelled ones, as such I didn't see any need to use these new weaker power-ups. Also strange is the miserly amount of new upgrade points you get, barely any in fact.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Alive (2018) - Horror Film Review

The award winning Alive has been on the festival circuit for the past few years, and has now been released online. Directed by Rob Grant (Yesterday) and written by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent, this bloody horror features mainly just three characters, culminating in a suckerpunch of an ending that I didn't remotely see coming.

A man (Thomas Cocquerel - the upcoming Escape Room 2) wakes up severely injured in a seemingly deserted hospital. He soon finds out that he is being looked after by a middle aged man (Angus Macfadyen - Saw III), who is also treating a woman (Camille Stopps) there at the same time. Neither of the two patients have any memory of who they are, or what has happened to them, and it soon become clear that their rescuer is a little bit crazy. Using increasingly sadistic methods he slowly nurses the two back to health, realising how unhinged the man is they begin to plot their escape...

It's fitting that Macfadyen has previously worked on a Saw film as this one fits nicely into the torture porn genre of body horror. From the bloody start to the finish the two patients are nearly always covered in blood, whether their own or others. As you may expect characters suffer a lot and get tortured a lot, though here their captor rather than trying to hurt them in his own way believes he is caring for them. All three main actors were great in their roles, especially Macfadyen who felt like an even more crazy version of John Goodman's Howard from 10 Cloverfield Lane. The dynamic of the three is what keeps the film flowing and leads to three separate feeling acts in which the stakes get raised higher and higher.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Alan Wake's American Nightmare (2012) - Horror Video Game Review (X-Box 360)

With how good Alan Wake is it was criminal that it never received a sequel, especially considering the game ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. Thankfully it was never abandoned in total, the second expansion for Control is a crossover, and back in 2012 a downloadable quasi-sequel/spin-off for Alan Wake was released on the X-Box 360, titled Alan Wake's American Nightmare. At the time of release I brought it, but it is only now some eight years later that I have gotten around to playing it, all in preparation for the newly released crossover. As a warning there will be spoilers for the end of Alan Wake and its expansions.

The original game ended with the titular author trapped in an alternate nightmare realm dubbed the 'Dark Place'. The expansions had him battle for control of his fractured mind, and culminated in him achieving this, with the promise that he was going to find a way to write his way out of there. American Nightmare picks up two years later, and in a way Wake has been successful. He once wrote for a Twilight Zone style show called Night Springs, and using the backbone of an episode he had written (about a doppelganger) he has found a way that he is able to leave the Dark Place for brief periods of time, but only at points in reality where other worldly events are happening. An evil version of Wake named Mr. Scratch has invaded the real world, determined to ruin Alan's reputation and kill those he holds dear, and so Alan has followed him. He hopes to be able to defeat Mr. Scratch and maybe even find a way to return to the real world forever, but his evil alter-ego realising this has trapped him in a time-loop, forcing him to relive the same night over and over again.

This came out at a time when downloadable games were recognised as micro-experiences rather than fully fledged games. As such there is plenty here that is limited, but the time-loop mechanic gives a way for that to work in the games favour. American Nightmare is split into three different areas, all taking place over one night. The whole game takes place in the deserts of Arizona, with the first area, a dusty motel, being the biggest of the three. The second area is an observatory, with the final area being a drive-in theatre. In each area you have a specific set of objectives to complete to trigger world altering events. The motel section for instance has you setting up events to make a space satellite crash to Earth (to the tune of a Kasabian track) in order to destroy an oil derrick from which enemies are spawning. Each area also contains manuscript pages, these not only provide plenty of backstory for what exactly is going on, and how Wake came to be in the real world, but they also act as a type of currency to open weapon caches in each area. Each area also has its own radio show transmission. These transmissions provide information on what other characters have been upto over the past two years. Best of all are the TVs which contain a live action broadcast from Mr. Scratch taunting Alan. Being a time-loop game you visit these areas multiple times, each time giving different rewards.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Preacher: Season 4 (2019) - Horror TV Show Preview

The fourth of final season of Preacher is currently running on AMC, and so I checked out the first few episodes to give my take on what it is like. Before joining in season 4 the only experience I had ever had of Preacher was reading some of the graphic novels (that the show is adapted from) as a teen. My memories are hazy but I remember it being weird and violent, while I never really understood it that well I thought it was pretty cool. Despite not having seen any of the previous seasons I'm sure there will be unavoidable spoilers in my preview. Have patience if some of my summary is incorrect, it is all based on my first impressions.

The vampire, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun - The Last Witch Hunter) has been captured by the violently benevolent forces of Herr Starr (Pip Torrens - Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Tomorrow Never Dies) and kept captive at their religious base. Episode 1, Masada has the Preacher, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper - Agent Carter) and his love interest, Tulip (Ruth Negga - World War Z) attempt to break him out. This was a good first impression, while it is violent and nasty at times there is also a rich vein of black humour running throughout. There was plenty of action, but also dream sequences and it all looked fantastic. Some of the effects were quite fun, such as a poor henchwoman who ends up squished between a huge door. The core story was easy to follow, and while the focus is very much on Jesse and Tulip there were various other threads that were dipped into occasionally. However brief these other scenes were it did a good job of showing where all the various characters were, and what they were up to.

Second episode, Last Supper sees Custer on his way to locate a strange rock he saw in a vision, meanwhile Tulip has her own mission she is intent on completing. This second episode brought out some of the more surreal moments that I assume the show is littered with. Most notably being a prologue that shows God (Mark Harelik - Jurassic Park III) hanging out with a stop motion dinosaur, with the real explanation for their extinction revealed. The show continues its dark humour, such as when a man is made to kill himself with a hand grenade and his last words asking for his browsing history to be deleted off his computer. Despite a large cast of characters the focus is mainly split between Tulip, Cassidy, and Custer, with just a few scenes that feature Herr Starr, and his main henchwoman, Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery - Better Call Saul).

The third episode, Deviant has Jesse Custer making a side stop to rescue a young boy from a house of perverts. The episode also dedicates a good chunk to the continuing misadventures of Arseface (Ian Colletti) and The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish - The Hobbit trilogy) as they hunt for the Preacher. I remember Arseface from the comics I read as a teen so it was fun to see his character. There was a long corridor fight at one point in this episode, with a lot of it done in one take. It gave me real Daredevil vibes and was well choreographed. I like that Jesse's almighty power is always shown to have a negative side to it, he has the power to make anyone do anything but it never seems to go according to plan when he uses it on others, unless it is for petty things like having him able to smoke in an airport lounge. The first three episodes have played with time, by showing Jesse in the future and present, so it was nice to see these two timelines finally met up.

Despite not knowing anything about the show I enjoyed my brief time with it, and shows that even missing out on three seasons I felt mostly confident that I knew a lot of what was going on. It helps the show looks quality, with great special effects and a large cast of talented actors. Preacher continues on AMC Mondays at 21:00 until 5th October, so check it out!

Sunday, 13 September 2020

To Your Last Death (2019) - Horror Film Review

The award winning To Your Last Death purports to be the first ever U.S made 2D animated horror movie. Directed by Jason Axinn, this horror immediately caught my eye due to the animation style that is very similar to the look of the animated comedy, Archer. Despite this being an animation it is very bloody and dark, at times so much so that it did feel it was trying too hard to be 'edgy'.

The film begins with a bloodied and beaten Miriam (voiced by Dani Lennon - The Love Witch, Dracula: Reborn) emerging from her father's company HQ. She is swiftly arrested for the murders of her brothers, Ethan (Damien C. Haas) and Collin (Benjamin Siemon), as well as her sister, Kelsey (Florence Hartigan).  She tells the detective that it was actually her father, Cyrus DeKalb (Ray Wise- Batman: The Killing Joke, Twin Peaks) who killed them, and who also tried to kill her. With Cyrus being an influential figure, and with her having a history of mental illness things don't look good for Miriam. That is when she is visited by a strange woman (the Gamemaster) who only she can see. The Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin - Deadpool, Gotham) tells her that she can be given a unique opportunity to correct the past. The woman has the ability to send Miriam back in time to the start of the evening of mayhem and bloodshed, and that with the knowledge of what is to occur she will be able to change fate by saving her siblings. With no real alternative Miriam agrees, but it soon becomes clear things are going to be a lot harder than she anticipated. The Gamemaster is very much a neutral in the situation and belongs to a group of mysterious entities who are playing a game, placing bets on whether Miriam will be successful at changing her past or not. The Gamemaster at her own discretion has chosen to influence events, to make them more interesting for the entities twisted enjoyment.

Boiling it right down this is Groundhog Day if it was mixed in a pot with Saw. Death isn't the end here and so characters can suffer all sort of really quite nasty deaths only for time to be rewound and them to be fine. On occasion this works in the characters favour, one part sees Miriam suddenly stabbed to death, then when time is reset she is able to avoid this. It isn't a perfect time loop as the film plays out more or less in a continuing order, each reset puts characters back a matter of moments. What made this feel more different was how the motivations of the characters can be changed based on the Gamemaster's participation. She is most keenly shown being able to change Cyrus's thoughts, such as altering the order in which the siblings are to be killed in the Saw style traps, she can also change other characters actions, and this can make a reset where things are a lot different to how they had originally played out.

Friday, 11 September 2020

The Dead Ones (2019) - Horror Film Review

The Dead Ones
is a horror that comes from director Jeremy Kasten and writer Zach Chassler (The Wizard of Gore, The Thirst). It explores the topic of high school shootings, but does so in a way different to usual. The whole movie is very centered on the supernatural and from the offset feels like it is all one large nightmare sequence. The central idea that holds this all together is one I have seen in plenty of movies before (Dark Corners is one such example). It manages to pull this all off in just 72 minutes, though it feels longer than the run time would suggest.

Four high school friends, who include among them Mouse (Sarah Rose Harper), Scottie (Brandon Thane Wilson - Wonder Woman 1984), Emily (Katie Foster), and her boyfriend Louis (Torey Garza) are brought back to their high school at night by their teacher Ms. Persephone (Clare Kramer - Buffy the Vampire Slayer). As punishment for the friends wrecking the school during some unspecified incident they are being made to clean it all up over long night. However, not soon after they arrive another group turn up, these new arrivals are dressed up as the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and quickly go about setting up traps and locking all exits to the school, targeting the friends for reasons unknown...

From the very start of this movie it was quite clear something was not quite right. For one thing the school looks like a bomb had hit it, damaged lights flicker on and off, books and paper are strewn about the hallways and classrooms and blood and bullet holes are seen all over. The world the film takes place in felt very Silent Hill in vibe, like a twisted version of the real world. This created a strange contrast, with the four friends not appearing to find any of this strange. An early question I had was if this was some sort of dystopian future. Over the course of the film things become a lot clearer, especially with the masked intruders whose scenes often blend seamlessly between the present and an event at the school that took place in the past.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Occurrence at Mills Creek (2020) - Horror Film Review

Occurrence at Mills Creek
originally came out in the form of a short film back in 2019. As far as I'm aware this short film was always intended to be a part of a larger story, and was made up of footage from the opening act of an upcoming feature film. Truth be told I wasn't that taken with it, I thought it was confusing, and I thought it didn't work that well as a stand alone piece. Having now seen the feature length version of Occurrence at Mills Creek I can affirm with context it all works so much better. Despite not really understanding the story I thought this movie was fantastic, and by far the best film I have personally seen from Don Swanson (director of the short, as well as A Wish for Giants and What Was Lost).

Ava Psoras (reprising her role from the short film) stars as Clara, a young woman suffering from a deep depression. When she was still a teen her mum died, then one tragic day an event happened at the titular Mills Creek that saw Clara accidentally kill her younger sister, Cassandra (Alexa Mechling - the original short, A Wish for Giants). Unable to bear the guilt of her actions she tried to commit suicide, and now regularly sees a psychiatrist, and gets by with the support of her best friend. After her father, Victor (Joe Fishel - again, the original short, The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher) passes away, his step sister, Cecilia (Mary Sack - Camp Blood 666) gets in contact and it seems Clara's support bubble is growing. However, she is haunted by visions of her deceased mum and sister and fears she is losing her sanity. Could everything she is experiencing be down to mental trauma, or is there a more supernatural explanation?

The very thing I complained about in the short is the part that I most enjoyed about Occurrence. We follow Clara through her eyes and so are given an unreliable view of the world. There are plenty of dream sequences throughout the film, and often they are so integrated well enough that what appears to be a normal scene will suddenly change into an obvious nightmare. It led to a story that was hard to follow, and I curse my own low intelligence that I often wasn't quite sure what was happening, regardless I was enthralled. Towards the films final third I was really hoping it wouldn't drop the ball and turn bad, thankfully it never did. A lot of the time there is a fine balance between events being the result of mental health issues and events actually happening. Things such as doors opening on their own and the visions Clara sees of her relatives are never resolved. What is clear is that Clara is a troubled soul who has suffered a lot. In the films I have seen of Swanson there is always a grounded feel, that outside of the horror these are real characters flawed as normal people are. Due to this even up to the halfway mark I couldn't quite decide if this was even a horror, or just a drama. It didn't need to do so, but this definitely leans into the horror side of things more and more as the film progresses.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Outbreak: The New Nightmare (2017-20) - Zombie Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Back in 2017 I gave a first impressions preview of top down 2D zombie horror survival game, Outbreak. The game, from Drop Dead Studios really wanted to create the feel of an old school survival horror game. Since then a 3D sequel titled Outbreak: The New Nightmare was released on Steam, and now an updated version has arrived on the Playstation 4.

Outbreak: The New Nightmare takes place during the same time period that Outbreak occurred in, this time leaving the confines of the Arzt Memorial Hospital to follow another group of survivors as they also try to survive the zombie apocalypse. Thinking it would be the safest place around they take refuge at Kraus Shipping Industries, but learn too late that that too is overrun with the undead. With each of the five levels unlocked from the start it isn't much of a spoiler to say that from the offices (Outbreak) you take to the streets (Urban), before making it out to the countryside (Faith). From there you head to an old asylum (Cure) and discover the secret lab underneath it (Shelter) where it seems the nightmare has originated from.

This is old school survival horror that is older and more school than the original Resident Evil games this is influenced by. More specifically this is influenced by the tough as nails Resident Evil: Outbreak games. Each of the six characters have their own attributes, Lydia the cop (who I played as) has a greater resistance to damage and starts with a pistol for instance. It pays to stay with the one character as there is a lovely XP system in place that as you level up gives you access to different perks, such as weapons doing more damage, and starting with more health. Much like with the first game you have limited inventory space and so you are constantly having to micro manage to ensure you have both space for weapons as well as essential items such as tool kits and wires that are needed to fix environmental obstacles. The levels are dotted with ammo as well as discarded weapons, and as each weapon comes with a full clip it makes sense to regularly discard weapons in order to use newer ones. Guns range from pistols to a grenade launcher, shotgun, assault rifle and magnum. All typical weapons and work as intended even if they are a bit unexciting.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

We Got a Monkey's Paw (2018) - Short Comedy Horror Film Review

The award winning We Got a Monkey's Paw is a short comedy horror film that was directed by Aaron Pagniano (Dog City), who also co-wrote the story with Zack Ogle. Everyone knows about the monkey's paw idea, an object that grants the holder three wishes, but always manages to twist the wish into something awful.

Jakki (Jacqueline Jendrell - Sunset on the River Styx) is studying at home when her housemate and best friend, Zack (Ogle - Polterghost) invites her to join him in playing with a Ouija board. Zack has a deep love for everything haunted and cursed and has managed to build up quite the collection over the years. Jakki has no interest in stopping her studies for him, but an errant wish for Jakki to show some interest, made just as Zack happens to be holding a monkey's paw sends the duo on a hellish night of misfortune and mayhem, that takes in time travel, zombies, possessed dolls and a whole lot more..

I would describe the comedy here as zany, something which I can usually deal with in small doses. Zack is the more crazy one balanced against Jakki, who is far more rational and collected. Over the course of eight minutes a lot happens and it did get better the longer this went on. I enjoyed the second half a lot more, and also found the end scene to be very enjoyable. The horror never over powers the humour and even when things seem to be at their worst everything is still bright and colourful. The script was well written and while the characters don't seem to have too much to them I still finished this thinking how great this would have worked as a show, each episode bringing the two to a different type of horror.

There was little to dislike about We Got a Monkey's Paw, once this gets going it was a breezy eight minutes of bad choices and ill judged words, held together by a good script and some fantastic set design. It may be a comedy, but you can see the love for horror here. 


Thursday, 3 September 2020

Toxic Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space - Sci-fi/Horror Film News

A new teaser trailer for upcoming sci-fi/horror comedy Toxic Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space has been released. I don't often do individual news post much any more, but I am hoping to be able to at least include a few during the month as my monthly news roundup is becoming quite large lately! Created by David Black and Gerad Chierchia, this film is working around the various lockdowns going on around the world by getting people from across the globe to submit their own clips online, which will then be edited and added to. For details of how to get involved in that head here.

Joel D. Wynkoop is set to feature in one of the starring roles in the movie, and he will be playing the same character, Parsons Cooper, that he plays in his upcoming feature The Craiglon Incident, which is a crossover with this one. Also set to feature in the film will be Destiny Soria, and she currently has an Indiegogo campaign running to get funds for her own horror, Christmas Slasher. Details of that campaign can be found here

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Blinders (2020) - Horror Film Review

Blinders had its world premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest Digital Edition 2020 last night. This horror from director Tyler Savage (Inheritance), who also co-wrote it along with Dash Hawkins follows a familiar idea (such as with dark comedy The Cable Guy and the mediocre The Gift) but brings it right up to modern day, while also excelling with the casting choices.

Andy (Vincent Van Horn - Inheritance) has recently moved to L.A to start himself a new life after a messy breakup with his girlfriend. Drinking in a bar one night he happens across Sam (Christine Ko) and the two make an immediate connection. With things going well Sam orders a share drive taxi and they head back to her place. The next day Andy happens to bump into the driver of the taxi, a man named Roger (Michael Lee Joplin - #Slaughterhouse) and due to being new in town he agrees to Roger's request to hang out sometime. The two meet up but Roger's intense persona puts off Andy a bit, which is then compounded by Roger constantly texting Andy wanting to meet back up afterwards. With things going so well with Sam he decides to cut Roger out of his life. Angry at being rejected Roger makes it his aim to ruin Andy's life, with identity theft just the beginning of his twisted plans...

Blinders was a bit of a nasty film, which is surprising as it doesn't start off that way. I'm not actually a fan of this sort of horror, peoples lives getting ruined by a maniac, while no one believes them doesn't make for a lot of fun. This movie though was so well made that I was still able to appreciate it despite my misgivings with the story. The directing and editing here was often pleasing, some scenes feature some great lighting, and combination of all the various moving parts. A scene that sees Andy unknowingly turn up at the house of a drug addict was one such example where everything comes together perfectly. There is a gradual ramping up with the events over the course of the 86 minute film, and while the general story is familiar this works due to the main characters.

Monday, 31 August 2020

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for August 2020

This weekend I really have been quite lazy when it comes to my blog, I have not been sleeping grand lately so I put it down to that. My neglected inbox seems full so I imagine this monthly news round-up may be a big one...

Lady Destiny Productions are currently working on a horror film called Christmas Slasher. Actress, director, and owner of the company, Destiny Soria is set to star in, and direct the movie. The film hopes to blend several horror subgenres together, including psychological and the supernatural. Soria plays the lead role of Alita Claus, who along with her friends head to an old childhood hangout for a weekend of partying. Things go quite wrong with the arrival of a killer zombie reindeer, as well as the angry duo of Mr. and Mrs. Claus who have put Alita and her friends on their naughty list. Christmas Slasher is also set to feature Nicholas Brendon and Felissa Rose, and the film is due for release before Christmas 2021.

Mind bending clone-fest Dead Dicks is now out to stream or buy. It can be brought on Amazon, Artsploitation Films and Kino Lorber, while it can be rented on Prime Video, Apple TV and Vimeo. I quite liked this film, time loop stuff always appeals to me. Also from Artsploitation Films comes the news that Happy Times has been acquired for North America. This is a horror comedy about a Shabbat dinner party that spirals out of control. It is slated for a film festival run this autumn, with VOD and DVD to follow.

The official trailer of Italian horror, Caleb is now online. This film by L/D Productions is about a battle between good and evil that unfolds in a small remote town.

Deadly Night Out is due to start filming in September. This is due to be filmed in South Florida, the film aims to be a psychological thriller 'that takes us on a suspenseful journey of a fragile relationship during a difficult time'. It was created by Dominic Giannetti.

Horror comedy Gym of the Dead has released a new poster and announced a cast. The film is to feature Dani Thompson (My Bloody Banjo), Megan Lockhurst (Jurassic Predator), Eve Kathryn Oliver (Edge of Extinction), Jack Hunter (Paranoia Tapes), Robert Bess (Clown Motel 2), Heather Rotten (The Embalmers), Amy Ellen Holbrook (Strix), Pamela Sutch (Trakked), Renee Graham (Backwoods Bubba), Tina Vasile (Day of the Undead), Tamara Jones (Z Dead End), Cayt Feinics (Naked Cannibal Campers) and Monica Hayes (The Gift). The film is going to be a blend of everything eighties and also include zombies. There is currently an Indiegogo campaign running to get funds, that can be found here.

Award-winning filmmaker Scott Lyus has teamed up with actress Natalie Martins (Cruel Summer) and writer/director James L Perkins to produce horror short The Veil of Isolation. This has recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign. The film tackles a current theme, that of lockdown, and this follows a woman who shares her increasingly dark thoughts with the world in the form of a video diary.

Jeff Payne has released a teaser trailer for the third chapter of his The Pale Faced Lady series. The short film, titled In Darkness I Wait is set to be released in September. Payne hopes this will be the payoff for the series. It is to be 25 minutes long, which is more than the first two (The Pale Faced Lady and She Will Return).

Faces of Fear is a horror anthology that is due out on September 29th and will feature Kim Sonderholm (Little Big Boy), Luc Bernier (Home Videos 3, Jason Figgis (Children of a Darker Dawn) and Martin Sonntag (Escaping the Dead) among many others. The anthology is due to include the following short films, Harvest, Facing Face, See Attachment, The Ties That Bind, Cooking with Human Blood, Red Rubber, Callous and Dream. A trailer can be seen here.

Mario Cerrito and Michael Joy have partnered up to make horror film, The House in the Pines. The film is said to be 'an 80's slasher film that is nothing like an 80's slasher film'. The screenplay is complete with casting announcements due to be made in the coming weeks.

On 29th August, Sequanda Films launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the production of The Sawyer Massacre. This is a feature length Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan film that is set several years before the original and aims to give a deeper insight into the murderous family. The campaign is set to run for two months and will feature the usual assortment of perks for donors.

The dual format release of Melancholic has been announced by Third Window Films. This is an award winning Japanese comedic crime thriller that is about a graduate forced to take a job at the local bathhouse, which happens to be used by the yakuza as a place for execution and corpse disposal. This comes out on September 7th and will also be out on various video on demand platforms.

HNN Presents is set to release two new horror films in time for Halloween. Fabula is about a former detective who suffers from a fear of the dark and finds himself hunting a serial killer. Profondo is about a disillusioned man who heads to a small seaside village in search of the mythical 'Red Devil' marine animal. These both release on October 13th and come from Bayview Entertainment.

Denver auteur filmmaker Dakota Ray (The Dark Days of Demetrius, The Acid Sorcerer) has revealed details of his seventh film. Titled Sebastian's Unholy Flesh. A demonic being named Sebastian (Ray) manifests in order to obtain Lucifer's ancient unholy book. However, also in search of the book are shamen/serial killer, The White Spider, and a demon named Nezaah (Nick Benning). Ray's films always have a cool style to them, and I like the synopsis for this one.

Quartz Vein will be the 15th feature film by award-winning director, Jared Masters. In this one a prospector in the year 2047 helps rescue three sisters that are captive of a race of gold injecting vampires. The script has been completed, and the film aims to release Fall 2021. For more details check out the Indiegogo campaign page here.

It wouldn't be a news post without mentioning Terror Films and the end of July has seen the launch of their merchandise store. This includes backpacks, leggings, t-shirts, cups and more, and will feature demons from their original productions: Trace (2015), The Chosen (2015) and Hell House LLC (2015). The shop can be found here. Also from Terror Films comes the critics choice horror anthology 10/31: A Halloween Horror Anthology. This premiered on Kings of Horror YouTube Channel on August 28th. The film will be on there exclusively until October 9th where it will then release on a variety of digital platforms.

Some AMC announcements now. First up, Eli Roth's History of Horror Season Two premieres Tuesday 10th November at 9pm. This new season 'explores the dark power and wicked fun of scary movies, the craft that went into making them, and the ways that horror films reflect the anxieties of their times'. Fear the Walking Dead Season Six premieres Monday 12th October at 9pm. This new season explores what has happened to the unlikely family after being dispersed across Virginia (Colby Minifie) and her Pioneers far-reaching settlements. Also check out the news posts header image for some lovely official key art for season 6. Preacher season 4 continues Mondays at 21:00 until 5th October. Based on the popular comic book franchise of the same name, this final season brings God's endgame for the universe into place. I have some screeners of some of the episodes so shall be covering that in a different blog post. Finally, NOS4A2 Season 2 continues Sundays at 21:00 until the finale on 8th September.

Finally, ending on some music news, Fatality have a new music video for their single Juggernaut. This was filmed and edited by Talon Payne of Gallow Wood Media and it was recorded and produced at Card Trick Music in Essex, UK. Fatality's vocalist Josh says of the song "is about standing tall, getting up when you've been knocked down and giving it your all no matter what you're aiming for in life".

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Vivarium (2019) - Horror Film Review

As a member of the Fright Meter Awards committee I was in a group chat discussing what films should be up for nomination and someone mentioned Vivarium. After a little look into this I was quite intrigued about the set-up and so felt I needed to check it out. According to the trivia section on IMDB, Vivarium is Latin for 'place of life' and also refers to a simulated habitat for plants or animals, both of which fit in with the creepy story unfolding here. This was directed by Lorcan Finnegan who co-wrote the story with Garret Shanley, their previous film, Without Name I quite enjoyed.

Gemma (Imogen Poots - Green Room, 28 Weeks Later) and her boyfriend, Tom (Jesse Eisenberg - Zombieland, Zombieland: Double Tap) are looking for a house to move into together and so they decide to check out a local estate agents. The weird agent working there (Jonathan Aris - Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) insists they follow him to a brand new housing estate which he promises them will be where they will find their perfect home. They follow him deep into the development, which is a series of streets of identical looking houses, and are soon given a house to look around in. While their attention is elsewhere the man vanishes, and chalking it up to just an odd experience they go to leave. Bizarrely they are unable to find their way out of the estate, their every attempt resulting in them back at the house, eventually the petrol in their car runs out and they are forced to spend the night in the house. After many days spent trying to escape they come to realise they are trapped. It is not long after that they discover a box in the street outside their home, which appears to contain a newborn baby inside. With no way to leave, the couple are forced to live at the house, kept alive by mysterious food parcels which keep turning up, while caring for a child whose rapid aging suggests a species that is not human...

On first reading up about this it sounded like a suburban version of In the Tall Grass, with the fields of grass replaced with the labyrinthian like housing estate. For the film's first act that is an apt comparison, yet the arrival of the child changes things up. The child (mainly played by Senan Jennings - Brute) is both annoying and sinister. It is clear from the films opener of a baby cuckoo being reared by a different species of bird that a similar thing is going on with the couple. The boy always appears to be imitating what he thinks a human should be acting like, the most creepy moments come when he nearly perfectly imitates Gemma and Tom's voices and conversations. This middle act of the film nearly outstayed its welcome, the mystery of why they are trapped fades into the background. As Gemma becomes more and more caring towards the child, Tom becomes obsessed with digging a hole, convinced he will discover answers by what he finds at the bottom. Both actors give a good impression of just what being trapped in such a situation would be like. As the film progresses both characters get more and more depressed and haggard looking, the monotony of their situation grinding them down.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Yummy (2019) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review

It feels so good to mostly be up to date on my blog. It means that I get to choose the films I watch for review, at least for the time being until a backlog starts to form again. I had my eye for a while on Belgian zombie horror comedy, Lars Damoiseaux's Yummy, and as it is on Shudder I decided to check it out.

Michael (Bart Hollanders) is taking his girlfriend, Alison (Maaike Neuville) and her mother, Sylvia (Annick Christiaens) to a Eastern European hospital so that they can get some cosmetic surgery done. Sylvia is obsessed with trying to stay young, but Alison is there for a breast reduction, fed up of the back pain being large chested has caused her, and sick of the never ending unwanted attention her chest size has gotten her. Michael is worried about the operation being done correctly and ends up causing a scene, so to distract him, the clinic assistant, Daniel (Benjamin Ramon) takes him off on the pretence of giving him a tour of the facility. In actuality Daniel is a junkie who is looking for drugs. His search takes them to a restricted wing of the clinic where Michael stumbles across a bound woman seeming to be in distress, he helps to free her, realising too late there is something very wrong with the woman. It isn't long before the zombie (for that is what she is) has escaped the wing and started to infect the staff and patients. Soon, with the hospital under lockdown, Michael, Alison, Sylvia, Daniel, as well as head physician, Dr. K (Eric Godon) and his assistant, Janja (Clara Cleymans) team up together in order to find a way out of the now zombie infested clinic...

Rather than have a critical look at the folly of unneeded plastic surgery Yummy instead makes little to no comment on it. The female protagonist might want to not be objectified, yet that is exactly what the movie does on many occasions, not only with her, but with quite a few of the other females in the film, there's more than one female zombie stumbling around half naked for instance. While this is a comedic horror it doesn't dial down on the horror part. Truth be told, as the film goes on the comedy gets reduced somewhat, by the films final act the only comedy on show is jet black and Yummy is a lot better for it. This is a nasty film with regards to the treatment of the protagonists, but often that is exactly what you need with a zombie film. On more than one occasion I was really wincing at what was unfolding on screen, from a character whose arm gets jammed in a paper shredder, to someone who has their fingers crushed under a manhole cover (subsequently having to have their fingers sliced off to free them) this is some splatterstick stuff on show (I don't know if that is an actual term, but I mean slapstick with added blood and gore).

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Control: The Foundation (2020) - Horror Video Game Expansion Review (Playstation 4)

The Foundation is the first of two planned expansions for the horror video game, Control. Having only completed Control yesterday (at the time of writing) it should be clear that this first expansion isn't a gigantic addition to the new game. However, it is still a decent size that features a brand new area and sheds some light on just some of the mysteries left unexplained. Because of this I found it to be a nice accompaniment. I will try not to include many spoilers from the main game.

With the Hiss threat contained, Jesse Faden (now the Director of FDC) receives a Hot Line communication from the mysterious entity known as The Board. It instructs her to head down to the base of the Old House where she discovers an entrance to a hidden network of caves which she comes to learn is the foundation from which the Old House originated from. She discovers an ancient stone structure known as 'The Nail' and learns it has been split into four pieces. Jesse is instructed to search the foundation area for these four missing pieces, as without the Nail complete the Astral Plane has started to bleed into her reality.

When I heard negative things about the first expansion I assumed that would mean it would both be short and take place in areas already seen in the main game. It was a great start then to find a whole new area. This area is roughly on par with the other four areas you explore in the game and took me roughly five to six hours to play through. The majority of the time you are in beautiful caverns with blood red sand, but you also go to the Astral Plane for parts of this, as well as get to explore a missing area of the Old House which has somehow materialised here. The main quest here may be simple but I had a lot of fun going through it, there are also three side quests, one of which was forgettable but the other two feature Objects of Power (ordinary looking objects that cause various effects around themselves) . Unlike the majority of the main game's encounters with these objects, that often just led to a dull and hard boss fight you get to do some fun things that felt a little different. One of these, Found Footage has you escaping from a deep chasm while carrying a TV set whose light is able to hypnotise enemies. The other one, a camera, transports you to a wonderful action packed adventure on a tram cart, replete with fantastic cheesy eighties music playing.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The Beach House (2019) - Horror Film Review

The Beach House is a horror that marks the feature length directorial debut of Jeffrey A. Brown, who also wrote the story for this. It's a contagion horror which is a cousin to the zombie sub genre of horror, and one that initially appears to be a little slow but abruptly falls deeply into events.

Randall (Noah Le Gros - Depraved) has taken his girlfriend, Emily (Liana Liberato) to his father's beachside property with the hopes of repairing their strained relationship. They soon find out they are not the only ones there, Mitch (Jake Weber - Dawn of the Dead) and his wife, Jane (Maryann Nagel), who are friends of Randall's father were invited to go there as well. As there is room in the house both couples decide to stay. They have a night of drinking and drugs and it is during this misty night that things start to go wrong. Emily thinks it is down to the strong edibles they had taken but the next day both Mitch and Jane begin to act very strangely. At the beach Emily stumbles across some aquatic parasitic life forms that have washed up on the beach, and soon starts to realise that the mist they had all seen the previous night may not actually have been mist at all, and that they may be in the midst of a contagion caused by microbes coming from the ocean.

Roughly half of the movie occurs before the characters are aware of any danger, I liked how it all arrives with the onset of them having taken drugs. It leads to some trippy sequences of colours blurring and sound distortion that adds to the increasingly surreal evening, There are only the four proper characters for the film's duration, best of which was Weber as Mitch who came across as likeable. As for Randall and Emily I must be feeling my age, as these fresh faced adults came across as naive, and with Emily too earnest. It is easy to see why the characters are having difficulties with their relationship, though with Emily happening to be doing a degree into aquatic microbes it seemed a tiny bit that a small part of her characters inclusion was to explain what was going on with that side of the story.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Genevieve Wreaks Havoc (2020) - Short Horror Film Review

Genevieve Wrecks Havoc is Nicholas Michael Jacobs follow up to the short film, Genevieve that released back in July, which itself was a spin-off from horror anthology, Urban Fears. I had heard the director had intended to create a series of short films revolving around the titular possessed doll and so was happy to see a new one was to be released so swiftly after the first. Spoilers for the first short are to follow so if you are yet to see that then head on over to YouTube where it can be viewed for free.

This picks up immediately after the events of Genevieve, with the burglar (Jacobs) falling prey to the very doll he had intended to steal. While that is going on we see the text messages from his accomplice informing him that the house owner, Ted (Shawn C. Phillips - Urban Fears, Tooth Fairy) has returned home...

The first short was four minutes not including the credits, and this sequel is even shorter at around three and a half minutes. With regards to the filmmaking there has been no change, this is nicely filmed and edited together and so is pleasing to watch. I guess my complaint here would be it is very much the middle part of a story, as a stand alone movie it wouldn't make much sense as it fairly enough expects you to know what has gone on before. The doll effects are as charmingly basic as ever, and the story is entertaining enough, I was just left with a feeling of wanting more. On the one hand this is can be seen as a good thing, the films are obviously decent enough that I am invested in the story unfolding.

If you watched and enjoyed Genevieve then Genevieve Wrecks Havoc is essential viewing, I am interested to see what unfolds in the next chapter of the short film series. The film will be released on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video on October 1st.


Monday, 24 August 2020

Red Letters (2019) - Horror Film Review

While zombie films are my favourite sub genre of horror to watch I also have a real liking for anything involving demonic possession and so I was please to see Red Letters appeared to fit that bill. It was also nice to recognise a few faces here, this was directed, written by and starred Jim Klock (The Hunt, 6.66 PM, Massacre on Aisle 12). The film also featured a couple of other actors who have appeared in films with him previously, Chad Ridgely, Mike Capozzi (both 6:66 PM and Massacre on Aisle 12) and Robin F. Baker (6:66 PM also). I have only ever seen those actors in comedy horrors before so I was intrigued to see how they would come across as in a serious horror.

After a deputy goes missing in strange circumstances in a small town the sheriff contacts private investigator, Jim Knowles (Klock). The F.B.I believe the deputy has faked his own disappearance, the sheriff not believing this wants Jim to do his own investigation. Jim has a friend that he often brings with him on cases, Mike Gaston (Capozzi), Mike has a special ability to sense the fate of people by holding a photo of them and Jim hopes this will allow him to find out what has happened to the missing person. The deputy vanished in a notorious local hotspot that local rumours say is a place of evil. Being an atheist Jim hopes that Mike, who is deeply religious will also help to decipher some of these legends about the place.

Red Letters does a heck of a lot with very little. Despite the story that is grand in scope the film only features a handful of characters, with Jim and Mike appearing in nearly every scene, and often it is just the two of them talking to each other. It was interesting to see how an indie film was able to tell what in other films would be a special effects laden, and populated storyline. You can see some of the concessions to the budget straight away. At the films onset Jim and Mike are sat in a nondescript room talking about their new case, the whole reason for them being there told as a backstory rather than shown to the viewer (aside from the found footage style prologue). At times this way of filling in events with dialogue impacts on the movie in a slightly negative way, in particular with a case the crime solving duo teamed up on in the past. This case, that featured a Satanic cult named 'Legion' sounded really quite exciting and is spoke about often. I found myself wishing the film was showing that story rather than the far more subdued and mostly uneventful one the characters find themselves involved with in the present day.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

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

Control is a video game that passed me by when it was first released, though hearing about it afterwards I did wonder why that was the case. It was made by Remedy who were responsible for the great survival horror game Alan Wake on the previous generation's consoles. In fact, Alan Wake was the reason I decided I had to play this game, as despite being a different genre of game (far more a third person action game than survival horror) I learnt that it not only takes place in the same universe, but that there are also references to the events of that game hidden here. I have heard that the unreleased second DLC for the game, AWE (unreleased at the time of writing, it is due out within the week) is a pure crossover with that series.

You play as Jesse Faden (voiced by Courtney Hope who also lends her likeness to the protagonist), a woman with a secret. During a supernatural incident in which the entire adult population of her town mysteriously vanished when she was a child she encountered an entity that latched itself onto her consciousness, Jesse named this entity 'Polaris'. Now grown up, this silent entity has reawakened and guided Jesse to 'the Old House', which is the New York HQ of a shady government agency named the 'Federal Bureau of Control' (FBC), here she hopes to find her brother, Dylan, who was captured by government agents back in that same childhood incident. However, Jesse soon discovers the building is under complete lockdown, and is in the midst of an invasion by a paranormal resonance (nicknamed the Hiss) that has possessed the majority of the workforce, She discovers the Director of the FBC, Zachariah Trench, dead in his office by apparent suicide. By picking up his gun she is transported to the Astral Plane where she is judged worthy by a mysterious force called 'the Board' and named as the new Director. Discovering this job title brings with it a whole host of new powers and abilities Jesse heads out into the labyrinthian HQ of the Old House to not only find her brother, but also to stop the Hiss invasion along the way...

It turns out I was playing this game slightly too early as Control has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. I won't go too much into that other than to say that basically, anyone who already owns Control will have to buy the game again if they want to be able to upgrade it to the upcoming Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X versions, while anyone who buys what is essentially a GOTY version that is upcoming (for a much cheaper price than the original version) will have that upgrade for free. That is terrible business practice, but I don't think this is a game I will really feel the need to play again personally. Control feels like a video game from the early 2000's in how it plays. Were it not for the female protagonist I wouldn't be too surprised if I had learnt that a PS4 development kit had been somehow sent back through time and space and given to a team of original Xbox developers. The gameplay at times feels very archaic, and with a difficulty that is harder than a lot of games nowadays it can sometimes feel punishingly unfair. If you don't have your wits about you, you can quickly succumb to enemy attacks in a bewilderingly short amount of time, add in miserly checkpoints and long load times and on occasion things can get pretty frustrating (more checkpoints are apparently going to be patched in).