Friday, 5 March 2021

Suicide Tapes - Horror Anthology Film News


Exploitation film director Wilhelm Müller (Neighbor No.9) has teamed up with fellow filmmaker Tony Newton (segments on Virus of the Dead, 60 Seconds to Die) to make a new anthology, Suicide Tapes, which the press release states is the first horror film of its kind. As the title might well indicate this is going to be made up of a collection of short found footage horror that each revolve around a suicide occuring on camera. Apologies for the censored cover picture, was a bit graphic!

They are currently seeking submissions and have set out a few rules for what they are looking for, which are as follows:
 'Create a short horror film in under 5 minutes. Each short film must include a death by suicide scene and can either include just the suicide or also a little story surrounding it. The tapes will appear to be found and can include the victim talking directly to the camera. Can be filmed using any camera or smartphone as long as the film is delivered in landscape orientation 1080p HD. You will need a title at the start and end credits. This is an Underground Horror anthology film and can feature graphic scenes of faux blood, nudity and gore but NO REAL SELF HARM. If there is dialogue, it should either be in English or with English subtitles. If you use music, make sure there is no copyright!'
Completed films can be sent via wetransfer.com or google drive to cerebralfilm@gmail.com or tony.newton.productions@gmail.com.

This type of thing really isn't something I get much enjoyment out of at all, I learnt that with Faces of Snuff! However I'm sure there are plenty of people who this will appeal to, fictional horror should be celebrated in all its various forms and genres whatever the particular perspective of this rotting blogger.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Dead Again (2021) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review


As you might have guessed from my blog's title, I am a huge fan of zombie films. I have said many times previously, but often you don't need to have much of a budget to make an entertaining one. Much like the blog posts I write, with zombie films it is quantity not quality that matters, so even with minimal make-up effects, sheer numbers can increase the enjoyment regardless. Steven M. Smith's Dead Again is a U.K comedy zombie horror film that despite being low on originality at all still is competent enough to be a middle of the road, yet enjoyable film.

PC Brody (Elliot Cable - Incubus, Scare Attraction) is fresh out of police training school and has been assigned to the small sleepy village of Little Pitchfield. He is teamed up with PS Cooper (Tony Fadil - Web Crawler) who informs the eager Brody that there hasn't been a single crime in the village for 17 years. It is Brody's bad luck then that his first day coincides with an outbreak of flesh hungry undead, something that could possibly relate to an incident from the village's past.


While this is described as partly a comedy that part of the movie is thankfully underplayed. The humour didn't really hit very well, but thankfully it is mainly restricted to Cooper, and mainly appears with him using classic movie references that Brody, born in the 90's doesn't understand. Outside of this the film felt a lot more serious than expected which due to the comedy failing isn't actually a bad thing. I had been concerned the humour would be distasteful or mean spirited. It wasn't, aside from the decision to use real life footage of world leaders talking about the Covid 19 pandemic as the film's prologue (to create the false impression they are talking about zombie apocalypse), I felt that was in poor taste. At an initial glance Dead Again looks like a lazy mash-up between Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. A small, sleepy village devoid of crime, an eager new transfer determined to uphold the law in all its forms, and the progression of the character arcs are all Hot Fuzz. Obviously it is the undead that echoes Shaun of the Dead, also that Cooper even looks a bit like Simon Pegg and shares his first name with that other zombie film protagonist.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Raise Her - New Single/Video from Kissing Candice - Music News


New York based masked band Kissing Candice have released their new single Raise Her. This track is described as 'depicting acts of fetishism, masochism, and other deviant dark fixations that linger at times in the dark recesses of the brain'. It was one of the first songs written for the band's new album which is due out at some point in 201. Vocalist Aunt Donna (Joey Simpson) says of the music video: "I want people to watch this music video and walk away saying "what the hell did I just watch?!? I think I like it..."

 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

The Stylist (2020) - Horror Film Review


I heard a bit of buzz around Jill Gevargizian's short horror film, The Stylist back when it was released in 2016 but never got a chance to see it. Fast forward to present day and a feature length version of the story has been released, using the same actors, indeed it seems like the short itself is part of the feature, making up the prologue. While at a glance this can appear to be a female Psycho this is more of a slow paced horror that focuses primarily on the villian.

Claire (Najarra Townsend - Wolfmother) is a lonely and troubled hair stylist who is quite unsatisfied with her lacklustre life. She is envious of her clients and their life experiences, but more than anything she wants to be them. Unsuspected to all around her is that she carries a dark secret. She is a serial killer who kills and then scalps her victims. The scalps she keeps in her basement lair, where she wears them like a wig to pretend to be someone else, if only for a moment. After Olivia (Brea Grant - Dexter), a regular client of hers insists she do her hair for her upcoming wedding Claire begins to yearn for her client's special day. This twists into obsession and as the big day approaches she must fight against her instincts.


The most horror like parts of The Stylist are obviously the murder scenes, but these make up a small part of the overall movie. The focus is on Claire, and following around this main character can become exhausting. She's shy and unassuming, but also weird and kind of creepy, but everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives that this isn't really noticed by anyone. Townsend does a great job in this lead role, she displays a lot of different emotions over the course of the film, and despite her crimes there are moments where you do feel a bit sorry for what is blatantly a damaged person who cannot help themselves. The moments where the cracks begin to show in her wafer thin facade are where the acting felt at its best. At just over an hour forty minutes staying with the one character throughout means you get to know them quite well, even then though Claire is a bit of a blank slate, aside from inferring she is the way she is due to childhood abuse there are no details about her past.

Monday, 1 March 2021

The Connection and Dead Again - Horror Film News


Two bits of film news to mention on this double feature news post. First up, releasing on March 2nd from Midnight Releasing comes The Connection. This science fiction film was written and directed by Nicholas Naylor and stars Laura Stetman (Todd), Nicholas Naylor, Joel D. Wynkoop (Toxic Alien Zombie Babes from Outer Space) and Rod Grant (Illusions).
The synopsis for this is 'One night two people's worlds changes forever as a mysterious light in the woods connects the two in a way far beyond their understanding. As they set out to get their lives back to normal, they find the connection is the only normal they may ever know again.'

For something completely different there is Dead Again, a comedy zombie film that is already out, via ITN. This was written and directed by Steven M. Smith (Haunted series, The Doll Master).
In a crime free rural village a young recruit has arrived fresh from Police training. After a virus is released that transforms the village's peaceful population, the recruit teams up with a jaded police sergeant for what might turn out to be both his first and last day on the job. This sounds like an indie version of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz mixed together, in a genre that is close to my rotting heart. I hope this one turns out to be ghoul-tastic. I have a screener of this to watch for review so look out for a review coming soon.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for February 2021


Another month has gone by and still in lockdown here in the UK. Outside of horror news I had a week off work as holiday the other week, spent the entire time sick with some sort of mild flu which actually wasn't Covid. It's nice to know traditional flu is still hanging out and that not everything revolves around that accursed thing. I feel one day I will be able to abolish this monthly news round-up, but a quick glance in my 'News' section of my inbox, and seeing that it has 41 emails there, it isn't quite the time to ditch this post.

First off some Bayview Entertainment news. They have released the official posters and trailers for their new releases, Red and My Dead Ones. In Red an unknown entity haunts a small town. Men are found dead, females found insane, and there are reports of something...red out in the woods.
My Dead Ones is about shy film student, David who hides a dark past. That one is in Portuguese with English subtitles. Both films are out now on DVD.

Also from Bayview Entertainment is Nothing Else which was released on 9th February on DVD and Digital. This comes from Timoth Conrad Kachumia and stars Hassan Ally Daffur, Brian Mrikaria, and Mohammed Mwikongi. The film is about two strangers who find themselves not only trapped in a room, but also trapped in a time loop. Time loop films usually always have at least a couple of good ideas to them.
As part of their HNN Presents label comes Buddy Bebop Vs The Living Dead. This takes places in 1956 in which the dead are rising from their graves due to sinister experiments. Love the title for this one and zombies are always cool, so hopefully the film matches the premise.



Yet more Bayview Entertainment news with The Devils Daughter and Unfacebook also now out. The former is a story about the daughter of the devil who heads to Earth in order to find a way to get God's forgiveness. The later is about a hypnotic priest who uses a strange new social media platform to induce a group of young men to turn into killers.
Giovanni Aloisio's Nuns - An Italian Horror Story arrived on DVD and Digital on 16th February. This is about three nuns living in an old convent with a mysterious past. This is said to be based on the style of the classics of Dario Argento and Mario Bava.


The Box came to Video On Demand on 2nd February from Midnight Releasing. This curious sounding movie is about a struggling actor who starts having recurring nightmares about mirrors. As he gets closer to landing a major movie role he discovers the plot of the film matches that of his nightmares.


SamHel has taken footage from the 2008 unreleased parody film Amateur Porn Star Killer 3D: Inside the Head by Shane Ryan and put together his own more serious film Erotophonophiliac: Documents of a Lust Murderer (say that ten times fast). This easy to say horror is limited to just 300 copies on DVD and can be purchased here.
The original Amateur Porn Star Killer films will be getting a 4th edition release on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

The controversial Human Hibachi is now on the Troma Now streaming service. This horror by Mario Cerrito is about a man who documents his girlfriend's ill fated 35th birthday on his phone. A sequel has already been announced with Human Hibachi 2 "Feast in the Forest" set to film later in the year. Also Cerrito is hard at work on his upcoming production The House in the Pines.

Dark Red Horror have launched a campaign for The Night Courier on Seed&Spark. Filmmakers Tabitha and Mason McDonald (the truly stunning September, By Sunrise) have put together a team that they believe are excellent. Their latest film is about a woman who feeds people to monsters. When one of her victims escapes things change into a nightmarish cat and mouse chase. For more details of the campaign check out here.

Werewolf mystery thriller Beast Within came out on DVD on February 23rd from Stonecutter Media. The cast includes Colm Feore (The Umbrella Academy), Ari Millen (Orphan Black), Holly Deveaux (Shadowhunters, The Mist), and Art Hindle (Black Christmas, Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The plot for this sees a new gaming app Werewolves Awaken being launched at a VIP event. After someone turns up dead the remaining guests get caught up in a deadly version of the fictional game.


Another Small Town Monsters documentary is in the works, this one titled On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Journey. This is a follow up to the miniseries On the Trail of Bigfoot and sees cryptid documentarian Seth Breedlove heading to the Adirondacks in search of the titular beast. This documentary is just one branch of the 'On the Trail of' series, with On the Trail of UFOs: Dark Sky coming in spring and On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Discovery also coming later in the year. There are even two miniseries on the way, On the Trail of Hauntings and On the Trail of the Lake Michigan Mothman.


Finally, some music news and Dark Rock musician Sharone has released a third single from her upcoming LP Morbid Illusion. Screaming Into Oblivion has had an official music video made for it that was directed by Kyle Lamar and Justin Purvis. Sharone says of the song "..is about depression. I wrote the song when I was feeling very alone" and she says of the video itself "I went with a 'Clue (board game) meets The Grudge' theme. The idea was to show different characters trying to figure out who it was who killed me".

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Alien Planet - Sci-fi Film News

Alien Planet is an upcoming sci-fi adventure film coming from Los Angeles based filmmaker Alan Maxson. This is to be the third for him as writer and director, with Maxson most known for his creature acting career. That career has included such highlights as being one of the performance capture actors for King Ghidorah in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Blade in the great Puppet Master franchise, he was even a zombie in the opening sequence to Eli Roth's History of Horror show. He also has 14 years of post-production experience. 

Alien Planet is about two different and previously warring alien species that have both run out of a water supply for their people. In desperation these species team up and travel to a dangerous world in order to find the key to rejuvenating their planets. It is described in the press release as 'a meaningful story that mirrors struggles found within humanity'. The big difference touted for this film is that there will be no human characters, instead there will be practical effects makeup, monster suits and puppets to represent the aliens.

There is currently an Indiegogo campaign running to get funds to help get the movie made. As always there is the usual assortment of perks depending on how much you choose to help. Currently the film has raised over 100% of its goal with more than twenty days still to go. The Indiegogo page can be found here.
Maxson says about the film: "My years of experience as an actor and editor have prepared me for Alien Planet. I am extremely excited and passionate about this film and I can not wait for the world to see the finished movie! So if you love what we did in the trailer, please contribute to our campaign and help bring this bad boy to life. Thank you very much to everyone who helps us reach our goal!".


Friday, 26 February 2021

They Look Like People (2015) - Horror Film Review


Recently I watched the charming supernatural romance film A Ghost Waits and discovered the lead actor from that film, MacLeod Andrews was also in a film that had been sat in my Shudder queue for quite a while. They Look Like People, which was written and directed by Perry Blackshear (The Siren) sounded like it would be a spin on the familiar idea of the 'body snatcher', that of humanity secretly being infiltrated by an alien force. In a way it was, but there was a twist that made it work that bit better in a realistic setting.

One day Christian (Evan Dumouchel - Doctor Sleep) encounters an old best friend of his, Wyatt (Andrews) out on the street. It has been around a decade since they last spent time together, so wanting to make amends to Wyatt for them drifting apart, and seeing that his friend doesn't appear to be in a good place he insists he comes stay with him. Wyatt is troubled though, he has discovered that aliens have secretly been taking over human bodies and that a war is very close to happening. For reasons unknown he has the gift of being able to tell which humans have been taken over and which are still themselves. Part of him suspects this is all down to a mental illness of his own mind, yet he is unable to completely disavow the idea that maybe what he is experiencing is really happening...

This was an interesting spin on a well documented idea and it is to the credit of They Look Like People that it resists the urge to dumb down the ideas it is exploring. It is never a hundred percent clear what is actually happening but the movie leans in a way that makes it clear what the viewer was intended to think. The film succeeds mainly due to Dumouchel and Andrews whose on screen chemistry works very well. These feel like actual best friends, helped along by montage sequences of them goofing around. It was also a neat idea that both of them are hiding secrets about the type of person they really are under the surface. Wyatt keeps his thoughts of a secret invasion to himself, and makes excuses when he slips up. Christian appears to have really pulled his life around, he is outwardly full of confidence and success, yet as the film proceeds cracks begin to show, things that are presented to the viewer are later twisted to reveal they aren't exactly how they appear. That both the main characters have visible flaws makes them all the more likeable. Mental health has a poor record in films, especially horror, yet here the character maybe suffering from it is treated humanely, rather than presented as a monster.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Dead Bride (2021) - Horror Film News


Some images have been released for Francesco Picone's (Anger of the Dead) upcoming horror Dead Bride (which I first mentioned back in 2016), with a trailer for the film due to come out sometime in the spring. The film stars Jennifer Mischiati (Creators - The Past), Christoph Hulsen (Freaks Out, Twins), Douglas Dean (The Book of Vision), David White, Sean James Sutton (Onassis, Machination), Duné Medros (The Young Messiah), Michael Segal (Out for Vengeance), Francesca Albanese, Federica Bertoloni, Lorenzo Carcasi and Alena Mayuk.

The synopsis for Dead Bride is that a young couple (Alyson and Richard) have recently moved into a house that was left to Alyson by her biological father. She had been put up for adoption as a child due to her mother going insane. Now Alyson and Richard have a child of their own, but are experiencing financial and marital issues. With Richard out of town on a work trip, Alyson begins to explore the house but discovers some dark family secrets from her past.

Picone says of the movie: "Dark Bride is a dark and spine-tingling movie...offers exceptional acting performances, scary scenes and outstanding cinematography. If you enjoy ghost movies, this is a film you won't want to miss." This is currently in post production with a late 2021 release being aimed for.







Wednesday, 24 February 2021

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) - Horror Film Review


The Possession of Hannah Grace
is another entry in the unexpected subgenre of 'morgue horror' that includes such entries as The Corpse of Anna Fritz and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. In particular it is that last one that this seemed to be (perhaps) coincidentally similar to. Both feature a dark, dank morgue, a small number of characters, and a corpse that is not as lifeless as it first appears to be. As much as I enjoyed this movie, due to the similarities of the more effective Jane Doe I had to mark it down slightly. This was directed by Diederik Van Rooijen and written by Brian Sieve (Scream: The TV Series, Boogeyman 2 & 3).

Former cop and recovering addict Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell - Pretty Little Liars TV series) has recently gotten a job working nights in the Boston Hospital morgue, thanks to her A.A sponsor, Lisa (Stana Katic - Castle TV series). On her second night, there is an arrival of a corpse of a young woman, the titular Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) and from this point onwards things begin to take a turn for the dangerously surreal. It seems the corpse may in fact be a host for a demon, and that this demon has the power to regenerate its host's body by killing anyone who gets too close.

From the prologue showing a dangerous exorcism of Hannah that results in the violent death of one of the priests it is clear that the demonic angle shown here is very real. I felt that maybe that wasn't an ideal move as with Megan being a recovering addict, and still suffering PTSD due to an incident that led to the death of her former partner when she was still a cop it felt like those parts of her character could have been used to make the viewer question if what was going on was actually just all in her damaged mind. At times that is what attempts to happen, yet due to the prologue it is clear that isn't a factor. This was sometimes put to use in order to make Megan appear like she is crazy to other people she talks to, but as the demonic aspect is very real here it never becomes a focal point of the story.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Gabriel and the Apocalypse - New T I M E L I N E S pointTHREE Remix- Music News


Industrial rock band Gabriel and the Apocalypse have released the third of their remixes. pointTHREE from their soon to be released EP remix Alpha Transcendence that is due out on 25th February. Due to not currently being able to tour (for obvious reasons) the band decided a remix EP would be the best thing they could put out, while giving them time to write new material for 2021.

Jake LaCore (Guitar/Bass) says of the T I M E L I N E S remix "I really enjoy this take on the song "pointTHREE" which already had elements of a remix kind of sound in the original. T I M E L I N E S really captured a unique angle in this version of the song."

Monday, 22 February 2021

X (2019) - Thriller Film Review


This ongoing pandemic has brought lots of obvious changes to people's lives, it has also dripped down onto other facets. One of which is that with all that is going on people don't think it is a good time to be either making films/releasing films, just look at big ones such as the latest James Bond which was (currently) delayed by around a year and a half from its intended release date. This long winded intro is just to say that due to not so many films being released there has been a bit of a drought on this humble blog. Personally, I do this for my own enjoyment, I have infinite films I could choose to review, and I have been doing so, however it also means that I am even more happy than usual to check out films sent my way for review consideration. The press releases describes Scott J. Ramsey's X both as a 'Hitchcockian Erotic Thriller' and a 'Queer Camp Melodrama'. Out of all those words it is only the 'Hitchcockian Thriller' ones that appealed to me, but as always I was prepared to give this a chance.

An exclusive invitation only masquerade ball takes place regularly at a secluded beachside mansion. On the surface it is a charity event, but after hours it descends into one big non-judgemental sex party. Stella (Eliza Boivin) has managed to sneak into the event for reasons unknown, but is soon spotted by the ball's founder, the mysterious Christian (Hope Raymond) who allows her to stay. Unknown to all is that Christian has a secret, one that threatens to ruin her reputation should it ever get out. After witnessing something very bad she is forced into a position of either letting her darkest secret get loose, or to let the perpetrator of the witnessed crime get away with what they have done.

X is split into five different acts and due to the downward spiral of the story this felt very much like a Shakespearean tragedy. There came a point where I began to question if this was actually a loose adaptation of one of his tragedies. Christian at the start of the film has taken on the persona of a King. She rules over her empire, remaining aloof from her 'subjects', only losing the facade when speaking to her trusted advisor and best friend Danny (Brian Smick). This leads to one of the more interesting early moments of X, the whole first act is shown from the perspective of Stella, but she is a false protagonist. From the second act onwards Christian is very much the star of the film, so much so that we even get monologues of her internal thoughts. Act II: The King is where the flaws begin to show with the new protagonist, this is a character whose biggest secret really is not an easy one to ignore, whatever her reasoning. I think this is why there becomes a sharp fall for her. As likeable as this weird character is, it can't be ignored that there is something quite wrong with her, and so logically the film has to show her fall from grace.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Playdurizm - Explosive Fantasy Acquired for North America from Artsploitation Films - News


Turkish born director, 24 year old Gem Deger's fantasy/romance/drama, Playdurizm has been acquired by Artsploitation Films for North America. This indie English language feature film had its world premiere at the Lausanne Underground Film Festival where it won its Jury Prize for Best Picture.
Artsploitation's Ray Murray says of the film "I found this film a perfect slap in the face to conventional story-telling. Gem Deger has put the surrealism back in story-telling and the danger back in romance and sex."

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Dead Air (2021) - Horror Film Review


Dead Air
is a low key indie horror whose story mainly stems from a radio conversation between two strangers. The horror here is light, yet by gently introducing elements of the paranormal and even hinting at time travel, this supernatural Sleepless in Seattle creates a space in the mind to slot into.

Set in the 1980's, Will (Kevin Hicks who also directed this) has been widowed in recent years and while sorting out some of his deceased wife's belongings discovers an old ham radio that once belonged to his father. He decides to give it a try and ends up coming into contact with an older woman, Eva (Vickie Hicks who also wrote the story). Over the days and weeks that follow the two strike up a friendship, both are lonely in their own ways and so are perfect for each others needs to talk about the past. As a child Will experienced a dark event that led to him repressing the memories from that time, and as the two talk more and more it starts to seem that somehow Eva is connected to this childhood incident.


The majority of Dead Air is comprised of Will and Eva's radio conversations, with both sat in their respective basements. I reckon a good 90% of this is the two talking with just a few related scenes taking place outside of this format. For Will these extra scenes have him spending time with his two daughters, as well as seeing his psychiatrist. For Eva it is mainly her interactions with a young delivery boy who brings the shut-in her groceries. This meant the film's format felt much like a play, it was easy to envision this taking place on a stage. The set design becomes integral to the characters respective journeys, but it is only really Eva's basement that gets shown in great detail.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 6B - New Photos and Trailer News


Season 6B of Fear the Walking Dead premieres on AMC simultaneously with the U.S broadcast on Monday 12th April at 02:00 BST, exclusively to BT TV customers. The episode will then repeat at 21:00 the same day. As part of the publicity drive for this AMC have released some new photos from this second half of season 6.
The second of the season shows the impact of what living under current antagonist, Virginia's control has done to each member of the core cast who once saw themselves as family.


Also coming is season 5 of Ride with Norman Reedus that is due to premiere on Tuesday 11th May at 21:00 BST on AMC. This season sees The Walking Dead star embark on a three-day bike adventure as he explores local culture both in the U.S and internationally.


AMC is available on BT TV (332) and (381) for HD. Check out the Fear the Walking Dead trailer below.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Far From the Apple Tree (2019) - Horror Film Review


Far From the Apple Tree is a very hard movie to follow, using arthouse style editing throughout and with a story that is really hard to pin down it makes you work hard for answers. That this comes from Grant McPhee isn't that surprising, seeing as his Scottish 2017 horror Night Kaleidoscope was also trippy and bizarre. I said of that film that watching it was like being on drugs, and here, once again that is the overall feel I got, like I had been dosed with LSD before sitting down to watch this (it doesn't help I was already feeling out of it due to some sort of head type cold I'm currently afflicted with...pretty sure it's not Covid!).

Judith (Sorcha Groundsell - The Innocents TV show) is a young struggling artist who is finding it difficult to get her work noticed. After attending an event showing the work of renowned occult visual artist Roberta Roslyn (Victoria Liddelle - The Loch TV Mini-Series) she is surprised to receive a call from her. She says she saw something special in Judith and invites her to come stay at her remote mansion in order to archive her work. In exchange she promises the girl that she will get to put on a show of her own work once she is done. Judith jumps at the chance and is given free reign of the house, but as she begins her job she is concerned to see that the main model used in Roberta's work looks much like her, she is even more concerned when she learns this girl, Maddie, was Roberta's now missing daughter. Suffering strange hallucinations and nightmares the longer she stays there, Judith begins to think something more is going on than what she had initially been led to believe.

Far From the Apple Tree felt like the longer it went on the more obtuse it became, the more the arthouse style moments bled into the main film and the more it required of the viewer to really try and make an effort to see what was going on. There was an initial vibe that made this feel similar to The Wicker Man. You get the sense that the purpose Judith has been tempted to the house with is far different to the more sinister real purpose. With Judith the viewer gets to see the transformation of the house from a dream to a nightmare. The house itself felt like a representation of Roberta's mind, characters even say as much at one point. The longer the girl stays there the more the lines between reality and fantasy get blurred and like Judith herself you begin to wonder what the truth even is anymore.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

3FORCE covers John Murphy's '28 Days Later' theme with Synthwave overhaul

Russian synthwave trio 3FORCE have released a cover of John Murphy's 28 Days Later theme In The House, In A Heartbeat. As any zombie fan should recall this memorable track accompanied the mesmerising action packed finale of that film, also popping up in it's sequel 28 Weeks Later during the nearly as iconic opening scene. Talking of those films, those iconic shots of deserted London streets don't seem so bizarre after what has happened this past year.

3FORCE's cover is out now on all platforms from independent retro synth label FiXT Neon.


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

The Terminator (1992) - Sci-fi Video Game Review (Mega Drive/Sega Genesis)


The film version of The Terminator came out in 1984, but it was around the early nineties when the sublime Terminator 2: Judgement Day was so successful, that a whole host of video games started to be made, including versions based on the first movie. The Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear versions were all similar. With only four levels and short levels this is a game that can be finished within fifteen minutes. As fun as this is that very short play time has to be taken into consideration.

In the far future of 2029 the world has almost been destroyed after the machines rose up and attempted to annihilate mankind. The humans fought back under the leadership of John Connor, and they were close to winning the war. In desperation the machines decided to send one of their own back in time. The plan was to kill Sarah Connor - the mother of John, in order that he never be born. To counter this John sends back one of his best soldiers - Kyle Reese in order to stop this relentless killer.

So with just four levels how do you tell the entire plot of the film? I'm not complaining about this, but bizarrely the first level takes place outside of the film. This has you as Kyle Reese (armed only with grenades) assaulting a cyberdyne base in 2029. Having your protagonist equipped with only hand grenades at the very start of a game was a bold move, as was the very first enemy you face in the game being a mini boss. Partway through you get access to a machine gun that leads to a much easier second half of the level.
The second level has you back in the past and is set around and in the nightclub where Reese first meets Sarah. From this level onwards Reese is decked out in a trenchcoat and armed with a shotgun. The main enemy in the game are the Police, and much like the Terminator itself these cannot be killed, only stunned briefly. I think this was due to Germany at the time having strict censorship laws about only being able to kill monsters, aliens and criminals (I may be mistaken, killing innocent cops seems wrong however you spin it). This was my favourite level of the game with some lovely animations when Reese swings off poles and vaults over bins. The Terminator shows up as a boss, but is very easy, knock it over three times and it is stunned allowing you to meet Sarah and end the level.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Cyber Shadow (2020) - Post Apocalyptic Video Game Review (Xbox One)


I was lucky enough a week last Saturday to finally get my rotted claws on an Xbox Series X console. It soon became clear to me that it was going to take a heck of a long time to download the games I wanted to play on it. Having seen screenshots of the retro action platformer Cyber Shadow and been pleased with its fantastic 8-bit aesthetic I decided to download it to play while I waited for current gen games to download. This game is very frustrating, but it is also very enjoyable in almost equal measures, and boy, this sure is a tough game to get through!

You are Shadow, a cybernetic ninja whose last memory is of being caught in a blast that decimated the city you called home. You awaken in an underground facility with no memory of how you came to be there. You and your clan were led by a woman known only as Master. She was the daughter of renowned scientist Dr. Progen whose greatest deed was creating a huge workforce of robots designed to make day to day life easier for all. Your clan were tasked with dealing with any robots that went rogue. Things were good until the day Master discovers she is terminally ill. Unable to accept that he can't cure his daughter, Dr. Progen is driven insane and resorts to more and more drastic experiments to try and find a solution. Finally he decides that 'essence' (a type of magic) that all humans contain within them is the key to curing her. He transforms his robot workforce into a deadly army and instructs them to kill all they come across, then when this isn't providing him with enough essence he destroys the city hoping the gigantic loss of life will provide him with what he believes he needs. Shadow, guided by the voice of Master sets out to stop Dr. Progen, and rescue her from his grasp, even if this means she will most certainly die...

This game looks so good. It is 8-bit but that doesn't mean it is restricted to the capabilities of games from that era. It uses the graphical style as a template but uses all the power of modern day games to make it look and play like a dream. Throughout there are plenty of cutscenes, again created using beautiful pixel art, and this added power also means irritating elements of old games, such as enemies respawning off screen is gone. When enemies are destroyed here they are thankfully gone for good. The game is huge, split into ten stages, each of which is split into many side-scrolling levels full of tricky platforming to traverse. Roughly every three levels you get a checkpoint. In a cool move you can use a form of currency that enemies and objects leave in order to attach specific perks to your checkpoint. These usually include the ability for your health to be restored at your current checkpoint, your magic to be restored, and to have a power-up which takes the form of a small robot that hovers by you as you progress.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Sheep Without A Shepherd - Crime Thriller News


2019 crime thriller Sheep Without A Shepherd grossed over $192,000,000 in its theatrical China release. This is from Malaysian director Sam Quah and is his debut film. A big budget thriller that is a remake of the 2013 Indian film Drishyam.
In the film a family man falls into conflict with the law after his daughter accidentally kills someone who was blackmailing her. The blackmailer's mother turns out to be the police chief and she is determined to bend the rules to bring her son's killer to justice.
This comes to DVD and streaming services on 23rd March thanks to Artsploitation Films.


Wednesday, 10 February 2021

A Ghost Waits (2020) - Comedy Romance Horror Film Review


A Ghost Waits is a charming low budget indie that combines elements of horror, comedy, and romance all into one. This was the work of Adam Stovall who along with directing this also co-wrote the story, was responsible for casting, did additional camera work, and produced and edited this. Heck, he even shows up in a bit part acting here. This is very much a film whose ideas and themes could only really ever be explored in such a way in an indie piece.

Jack (MacLeod Andrews - Doctor Sleep, They Look Like People) works for a housing company, his job is to clean up houses after the former tenants have moved out in order for them to be ready for new tenants. Due to his own house being fumigated he needs somewhere to stay, and with his small circle of acquaintances not being forthcoming with help he decides he is going to stay at the current property he is fixing up. Unknown to him however this house is haunted by Muriel (Natalie Walker - Search Party, Bojack Horseman), a ghost tasked with scaring away any new visitors to her home. She has been successful up to this point, but finds Jack to be a challenge. Starting off antagonistic to him, over the course of days the pair begin to realise that they have much more in common with each other than either of them could have realised.

The horror part of A Ghost Waits is literally the first couple of minutes of its one hour twenty minute run time. It begins with the former family fleeing in terror from the property in a neatly edited chaotic montage of stop start scenes. I was actually still sorting out my headphones at this point in the movie and so nearly jumped out my skin when Muriel started screaming, as I had inadvertently gotten the volume on my headset up to max! Aside from the woman being a ghost there isn't really any more horror to be found here, outside of a couple of brief scenes. After that prologue this turns into a comedic piece for its first two acts, before taking on a much more dramatic and romantic story in its final third. It is quite po faced and earnest in this third act, regardless of your thoughts on this the film has a lot of heart.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War - Firebase Z - Zombie Video Game News


Last Thursday on 4th February a second Zombies map for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War finally came out. As much as I love Die Maschine (the only map up to that point), it had become a bit tedious just playing that one all the time. So what is new map - Firebase Z like? Be aware my impressions of the new map are based on a sole try of it and so some of my observations may not be correct.

Firebase Z is set in the jungles of Vietnam, or more specifically a military outpost situated there. You start off in quite a small area which is the housing part of the base. From here there is a free to use teleporter that takes you to the business side of the outpost. This second area is a lot lot bigger than the first one, and in general size it is a bigger map overall than Die Maschine it feels. Visually this one is a lot more dull, generic military base doesn't make for somewhere that feels exciting to be in, me and my friend both commented how similar parts of it feel to old map Ascension. Thankfully the undead are what makes this so enjoyable.

I don't know for certain but it really feels like there are more zombies this time around earlier on. I seemed to have waves of undead constantly chasing me and I couldn't kill them quick enough. They are suitably attired to look different than the soldier rotters of the previous map. Rather than having a zombie dog round you now instead have tentacled monsters spawning from fake items. These look like smaller versions of the ones from Black Ops III's Shadows of Evil. They appear more fearsome than they actually are as aside from being able to grab you with their tentacles and pull you towards them they didn't do too much. Also appearing slightly later on are zombie Terminator type enemies. These seem to be cyborgs and are armed with an arm cannon.

There is of course going to be a complex Easter Egg to uncover. Early parts of the challenge had us going to three different generators which we had to protect from the undead. Once all three generators were powered up the pack-a-punch machine in the initial area was powered on. At set points as well we were tasked with going to the edges of the base and repelling waves of zombies pouring out of the jungles, with handy artillery we could use upon them. There is a new perk-a-cola in the form of the returning Tombstone Soda. This allows you to become a ghost upon death, I guess the idea is that you can self-revive if you make it back to your corpse. This joins the existing perk-a-colas. Armour stations are back and this time there seemed to be at least three, previous map had just the one location for this.

Check out the video below to see me and L-Dog's virgin play of Firebase Z. Beware, the language is a bit blue, mainly due to panic at being overwhelmed by walking corpses and the base level insults and disdain that comes with being so comfortable with a person! Plus you get to see her trademark 'taking a call mid game' trope that she likes to pull.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Visage (2020) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)


Way back towards the end of November last year I was given a code for horror video game Visage. This game was heavily influenced by the infamous P.T demo and like that this takes entirely within the confines of a suburban home. I had heard this was a scary game, maybe I am broken, or maybe I am far too used to being fully immersed in horror VR games but I didn't think the game was scary, outside of a few jump scares at least. I had hoped for sustained dread but that never really ever came.

Set in the 1980s, you play as Dwayne Anderson, a man who in the game's prologue is seen in the basement of his home murdering his wife and children before turning the gun on himself (all disturbingly shown via his perspective). He mysteriously awakes alone upstairs in the house during a dark and rainy night. Dwayne receives a phone call from a concerned neighbour who says she is worried about him as he hasn't left his house in over three weeks. It soon turns out the reason for this is due to the fact both the front door and back door are strangely jammed shut. As he explores the house he comes across mementos from different people who have lived there previously, these mementos trigger supernatural events to occur, revolving around these people.

Visage is a first person 'walking simulator' in which you solve simple puzzles while struggling to retain your sanity. As long as you are in light you are fine, but as soon as you step into darkness your sanity metre begins to fill. Spend too long with your sanity metre high and eventually it will result in death at the hands of one of the spirits haunting the house. There is no combat to be found here, instead the ghosts you come across must be avoided. This felt like an anthology of sorts as each of the three different chapters you access are self contained. Wandering around the house outside of the chapters is relatively peril free, sure you can still succumb to the darkness but there isn't any spiritual danger to watch out for. It felt almost like the more peaceful moments of the Silent Hill world. It is starting a chapter where the danger really begins.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Mary Loss of Soul - Horror Film News


Mary Loss of Soul is directed by Jennifer B. White and stars José Zúniga, Kaylee Bryant and Catherine Black. It is out now thanks to Bayview Entertainment.
The titular Mary vanishes from her parent's lake house. She returns with not only no memory of where she has been, but with a part of her soul missing. Check out the trailer below.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Ghosts of War (2020) - Horror Film Review


Over the years there have been many horror films set during the first and second world wars. It seems this blend of horror and war is a decent fit. Here, this one is set during World War II. Despite featuring a pretty darn cool twist twenty minutes before the movie's conclusion there are just a few too many heavy handed hints dotted throughout that spoil this twist slightly. This was directed and written by Eric Bress (whose sole previously directed film was the mind bending time travel horror The Butterfly Effect). This one is suitably mind bending also, though the films additional final twist doesn't make too much sense.

It is World War II and a small squad of war weary American soldiers arrive at a French Chateau that has recently been liberated from Nazis. The five man group include team leader Chris (Brenton Thwaites - Office Uprising, Oculus), unhinged Tappert (Kyle Gallner - The Walking Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street), tough guy Butchie (Alan Ritchson - Office Uprising, Black Mirror), rogue Kirk (Theo Rossi - Luke Cage), and nerdy Eugene (Skylar Astin). It isn't long into their assignment when they come to realise the mansion they are situated at is haunted. It appears that the family who lived there had been murdered by Nazis and have returned as vengeful ghosts...

I had an inkling where the story would eventually end up and I was almost right. To be fair it isn't difficult to come to that conclusion when there are so many hints dropped. Some of these are really obscure, of course that is a good thing. Other clues are introduced much less effectively, such as particular stories that are brought up supposedly as a way to make general conversation, yet have content that is very relevant to what is going on. There was a good vibe here from the off, the forties setting feels authentic and there are some good looking effects here, the make-up effects in particular looked great all the time. The cast may be slight caricatures but this does mean each character stands out from the others. The shared history these five have is successful in making feel like people who have known each other for a while.