Friday, 1 July 2022

Larry II: The Squeequel (2015) by Adam Millard - Comedy Horror Book Review

I feel like Adam Millard is an author I really should have read more of by now. Back when the UK Festival of Zombie Culture was a thing he was a regular guest and always seemed liked a nice guy. One time I ended up picking up a copy of his comedy horror book, Larry and judging from my review I really enjoyed it. I say going from my review as my memory of the book is shockingly bad, but even despite that, getting into the sequel, Larry II: The Squeeequel was an easy feat. Spoilers for the first book inevitably to follow.

After getting chopped up, decapitated and burnt alive at the end of Larry it seems the geriatric slasher's path of bloodshed and murder was at an end. Life has returned to normal for 'final girl' Amanda Bateman and her friends. However, a year later, Larry's mother (with the aid of the carpet fitting brother of a witch doctor) manage to resurrect the pig mask wearing, axe wielding maniac, who discovers he now has a psychic link with Amanda and is able to pinpoint her location to the nearby city of Haddonfield. Amanda also is able to discover her old foe is back from the dead, and so teams up with her best friend Freddy, as well as enlists the help of a very butch Nun called Sister Geoff in order to stop the killer for good.

As I mentioned in the prologue to this review, my memory of the first book is very patchy. Larry II was a book in similar style to the more recent Don't Smell The Flowers! They Want To Steal Your Bones! by Duncan P. Bradshaw. That book was so jammed of nonsense and fourth wall breaking that it threatened at times to derail the story going on. Here, fourth wall breaking is very much in effect, there is a constant back and forth with characters seeming to be aware they are in a book, and often commenting on the descriptions and language Millard is writing with. There were also a heck of a lot of recurring gags throughout the two hundred and sixty six pages, something that I am a huge fan of thanks to the books of Robert Rankin.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for June 2022

Time flies so quickly nowadays and I wouldn't even say I'm having that much fun. The weeks zoom by with nothing of note to show for them. Halfway through the year and time for another monthly news round-up.

The first video from electro industrial group Tragic Impulse has been released, for their track Oubliette. The ten track album, titled Distant Worlds, released last month via Distortion Productions.

Mario Cerrito III's Human Hibachi 2 is set to premiere this Summer. This sequel to the found footage cannibal horror follows fans of the first movie who set out to create their own flesh eating offering. Michael Joy of Marketing Macabre states " of the best found footage movies that I've ever seen...maybe ever."

A 'ten year anniversary' cut of Gregory Blair's psychological thriller Deadly Revisions is due to be release this year with brand new extras. This stars the iconic Bill Oberst Jr (DIS, Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge) as an amnesiac horror film writer whose nightmares suggest something horrific occured in his past. Blair says of this new cut "For a long time, now, I was itching to make little tweaks to the film, so I was thrilled to finally be able to do that. It was my first feature and, I think I've learned a lot since then, and so the chance to apply some of what I've learned to help the film shine brighter was very appealing." Deadly Revisions should be out this December, from SGL Entertainment.

It is that time of the month again so here are some of the highlights for the Arrow streaming service's July. This includes a season films based on the works of H.P Lovecraft that include Castle Freak and Lurking Fear (coincidentally I read the short story Lurking Fear this week, was another good one of his). Also coming are the exploitation films Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.

God Told Me To is an apparently critically acclaimed cult classic that is getting a release on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray. Written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen, this is about a crime wave sweeping New York with the unlikely attackers all claiming that 'God told me to'. A Catholic NYPD detective discovers an underworld of 'deranged faith, alien insemination and his own unholy connection to a homicidal messiah with a perverse plan for the soul of mankind'. This new release comes out on 19th July from Blue Underground.

If not for the full title Dying Light: An Investigation into Near-Death Experiences, I may have mistook this for a novelisation of the game of the same title. This is by Jason Hewlett and Peter Renn and does what the title implies. The book touches on such subjects as 'paths to reincarnation and past-life experience, multiverse theory and more'. The book can be purchased here.

Set to be released in December from Arrow Films is the festive horror, The Leech. Directed by Eric Pennycoff, this is about a struggling Catholic priest who encounters a homeless stranger. It isn't long before he has offered the stranger and his girlfriend to share his house while they look for new accommodation with a deal that they must open themselves up to God. The priest begins to suspect that the couple have been sent to him as a test from God due to their toxic ways.

Angel is the latest single from Detroit deathgaze duo Vazum. This came out on June 24th and is described as a 'fast-paced punk/deathrock/shoegaze hybrid'. A new album is due to come out later in the year, while they will be touring over Summer.

Finally, not horror based but the email request was polite. The latest music video from hard rock group Pistols At Dawn has been released. Titled The Truth, this comes from the band's upcoming album Ascension, which releases on August 19th.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

The Red Book Ritual (2022) - Horror Film Review

Any regular reader of The Rotting Zombie will know that I love anthology movies, and so it was with some delight that I discovered the Ariel Luque (The Building, Ellose) directed The Red Book Ritual was one of these. In addition to the wraparound segment there are five other short films included in this nearly ninety minutes film, the theme revolves around witches and demonic forces.

Three young friends have gathered together one night to play 'The Red Book' game. This urban legend states you are able to commune with the dead by following certain rules. Not expecting it to actually work, the friends are scared to discover something bad is starting to happening. They realise that the only way to get out of their predicament is to follow the book's rules that they need to read the stories from within the book they are directed to. 

The first proper short is the 2018 short film Stray that was directed by Dean W. Law. It takes place at a remote homestead in which an American soldier (David Breen - Post Mortem Mary) has recently returned from fighting in World War II. He is shocked to discover his wife, Bonnie (Melinda Joan Reed) acting very bizarrely, she is filthy, not speaking, and refusing to wear clothes, seemingly reverted to an animalistic persona. This all may be linked to a strange cat that follows her around. There was barely any dialogue here, while the remote location made the soldier feel very isolated. I particularly liked how this ended. This one was only really let down by some slightly subpar CG smoke effects used on a couple of occasions.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Skew (2011) - Horror Film Review

Welcome to the nineties, I wrote this review initially on an actual notepad with a pen, due to my internet being out for a few days. Thankfully service has resumed. After watching Infrared the other week I got a yearning for found footage horrors, and so I chose Skew (written and directed by Sevé Schlenz - Peelers), a film I have owned on DVD for many years, yet never gotten around to watching. I perhaps unfairly expected this would be a very generic 'by-the-numbers' found footage, and in some respects it was. It did however also have an effectively creepy atmosphere.

Simon (Rob Scattergood - Peelers, Deathdate) is heading on a road trip with his best friend Rich (Richard Oak - Peelers) and his girlfriend, Eva (Amber Lewis - Batwoman TV series) and has decided to bring along his new camcorder for the ride. Simon's girlfriend Laura was also meant to be coming, but for some undisclosed reason has decided not to. Much to the annoyance of his friends, Simon films everything, and due to this he becomes disturbed to realise that nearly everyone filmed on his camera ends up dead. While Rich is unbelieving, Simon gets increasingly paranoid that something really is up with his camera. Not wanting to be caught on camera himself for fear of succumbing to the apparent curse, he feels no other option but to be the one recording the events.

This was certainly a found footage entry that felt it was from its time. It has moments of dizzying shaky cam footage and plenty of artificial looking camera glitches throughout. I never understood why people felt the need to do that effect in this types of film. It felt like The Blair Witch Project if it had instead revolved around a road trip instead of people lost in a wood. The trio may not be lost and they may never be far from civilisation, but events get increasingly bizarre for them. A motel clerk at a motel they are staying at is shot dead, a service station they visit burns down not long after they leave, and a tourist bus they film ends up on the front page of the newspaper the next day after it crashes killing all onboard. Maybe all coincidental, but possibly not.
There is no typical opening screen of text saying how the footage was found, instead this appears to be raw footage, and has several points where the footage is rewound to replay scenes, and even a long rewind that goes even earlier than the start of the movie right at the end.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Bewere (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

is a short twelve minute horror that was directed by J. Budro Partida and written by Joy Y. Lin (99 Bottles of Beer). As the title slightly implies, this is about werewolves for are one of my least favourite movie monsters. This short wasn't bad, not taking itself too seriously, while putting some answers to questions about werewolves that I hadn't ever considered before.

Rich college kid Aaron (Andrew P. Logan) has managed to track down a man purporting to be a werewolf, a man named Oz (Joseph Fotinos). He offers him a substantial amount of cash for Oz to turn him into one himself. Once he is turned however, Aaron tells the man he has no intention of paying him and heads off, and it isn't long before Aaron has also turned his best friend, Drew (Ray Roberts II). In this cautionary tale however it may have been a good idea to have honoured his deal, as this may have resulted in Oz revealing some pretty essential information to the new werewolf and his pal.

While twelve minutes in length it is only around nine minutes of actual film excluding the credits, though is a quick after credit sequence. The cast of three hold this together well, though it is the character of Oz who is the essential one, and the person who was the more fleshed out of the three. The werewolves here are people who literally turn into wolves and so during that whole sequence it is actual wolves and other animals being shown, rather than people in hairy costumes. There was always something a little goofy about the film and this results in a third act which was both really quite gross as well as amusing. I can't really say much more for fear of spoilers, but I enjoyed where this ended up going, even if it was very messy, not one to watch while eating that's for sure!

I may not be a fan of werewolf movies but a short one like this I was perfectly fine with. It did something different to any other werewolf film I have personally seen, and best of all it's free to watch. Bewere premiered on the Dark Matters' YouTube channel on June 17th.


Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology - 23rd June 2022

It's Father's Day here in the UK at the time I write this post and so I haven't been able to do as much blog as I would have liked. I have been watching the latest adaptation of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos with him however, so far not bad.

Coming this August to The Troubadour in London this August is Stranger Things: The Experience, which is sure to be big due to everyone seeming to love the Netflix show (me included). I will let the press release do the talking: '...launches guests through a perilous adventure through the darker side of Hawkins, including the infamous Hawkins Lab and the Upside Down. This brand new storyline, developed exclusively with the show's creators, propels guests into a parallel universe where they must run the gauntlet of terrors lurking in the dark and unlock their secret powers to help save the town.
After their escape from the Upside Down, fans will be free to explore Mix-Tape, where they can meet real-life characters from the Stranger Things world, grab a USS Butterscotch sundae at Scoops Ahoy, attempt to knock off MADMAX's high score at the Palace Arcade, try a unique cocktail at the first ever Stranger Things themed bar, chat with the friendly skater on Rink-o-Mania, snatch up exclusive merchandise and even get up close and personal with a Demogorgon
'. Tickets are limited and prices start at £39, with group bundles and VIP tickets available, here.  

A weird one next, there is a candle based on The Evil Dead series that can be pre-ordered. This comes from Horror-Fix and Legacy Custom Wax and is hoped to be the first in a line of horror themed candles. The press release for this one states: '...this candle is sure to send you spiraling back into the middle ages, complete with boomstick strapped to your back and chainsaw fueled up and ready to go.' That can be pre-order here, with it due to release on July 1st.

Finally for today, comedy horror film Cursed came to DVD on June 14th from Bayview Entertainment. It takes place on Friday the 13th when a Gypsy neighbour curses Dan's house on during his birthday party. The guests wake up dead which is just the start of Dan's problems in this dark comedy. That can be brought here.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Cyst (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review

From the title alone I was unsure whether comedy horror film Cyst would be for me as I'm not one who typically likes gross-out humour. The story in this Tyler Russell directed and co-written horror was so ridiculous that I found myself drawn into the almost grindhouse feeling experience.

This takes place in the 1960's, specifically in the office of crazed cyst specialist Dr. Guy (George Hardy - Troll 2). The man has been trying unsuccessfully to get his new machine patented, a machine that is designed to completely destroy cysts thanks to its precision laser. Things haven't been going according to plan however, as can be attested by the scar his long suffering assistant, Patricia (Eva Habermann - Trolls World) carries on her shoulder from a previous demonstration. Wanting to properly demonstrate the machine's power at destroying cysts, Dr. Guy injects his interns own small cyst with a serum that causes it to massively grow. This leads to an unexpected side effect however, the intern's cyst becomes a sentient creature and detaches itself from its host. It isn't long until the cyst has mutated into a hulking seven-foot tall monster, one that is determined to kill all the people within the offices it has become trapped in.

At just under seventy five minutes long Cyst goes along at a rapid pace once the creature makes an appearance. Due to the sixties setting this had an old fashioned feel to it, something that is reflected in the camera work itself. While there are no false additions such as film grain or burn it still felt like a movie lost from time. The creature design was certainly interesting, a bulky main body, with one giant eye on its shoulder, this creature reminded me a lot of the G-virus afflicted William Birkin from the Resident Evil 2 video game. Earlier in the film there was a The Thing vibe with the small head-sized cyst creature scooting along the corridors. It has tentacles which it uses to grab onto many of its victims, and its pus seemed to be acidic as is shown to cause burns bad enough to be able to sever limbs! While the cast isn't huge, the majority end up in some way afflicted by the beast, including at least one severed head.

Monday, 20 June 2022

The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience - Sci-fi Event

A week last Sunday I had the pleasure of heading to London to visit The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience. I have long loved Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of the classic H.G Wells story and so was happy to see how this experience would pan out, especially when it has gotten such good reviews. The building was located a short journey from the subway station and was easy to find despite the building being covered in scaffolding. It was in the same area of London as the iconic gherkin building, as well as the Monument and the Tower of London.

It all begins in The Spirit of Man bar, which serves both food and drink. While we were waiting for our 15:00 slot my dad ordered an expensive cocktail called a 'Martiantini'. This green drink may have been expensive (around £12) but was really nice tasting. There was a fighting machine in the bar and every so often smoke would shoot out from it, while the decor was all steam-punk in style, lots of brass, and paintings on the walls that were War of the Worlds artwork.

The experience is set out as if it has been created as a memorial in 1904 (I believe) to the Martian invasion that took place six years prior. A guide introduces herself and tells us that what we are about to see may feel real but that it is all fake and based on the famous account of a writer who lived through the event. In a small cinema type room we sat down and watched hologram type images of George and his wife as they give an introduction.
The experience follows the same route as the musical and book itself. The first proper part has our group of around eleven people being shown around an observatory by an actor playing the part of Ogilvy. Looking through telescopes we see Mars and the green mist coming off it, before seeing a spaceship crashland. The next scene we are taken to a room where a pod is at the back. Ogilvy goes up to it and led to a fun part where a heat ray beam is following him around with him oblivious to the danger. Then he goes up in flames, an effect that is created by swapping out the real actor for a video of a man burning on the back wall. The heat ray then shoots some more, each time actual lines of flame shoot out across the ground in front of us which was a cool effect.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology for 19th June 2022

As I have said in previous posts this week, I am perhaps dialing it in more than ever, due to going to London this past Sunday (which may possibly take the form of a blog post for next week). With that out the way, here is a mid-month news post.

Released on June 7th on DVD and Blu-ray comes the 2019 comedy adventure film, Aliens, Clowns & Geeks, which comes from actor/director Richard Elfman (Forbidden Zone). In this film, an out of work actor gets caught up in an intergalactic war between killer clowns and aliens. Included among the cast are Verne Troyer (in his final film role), Steve Agee, French Stewart and George Wendt. Special features of the release include behind the scenes interviews, a new interview with Richard Elfman, and a music video.

Film Market Entertainment and Sparke Films have announced the Cannes World Market Premiere of new horror film Scurry. Announced so far is Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile) who is to be in the starring role. The film takes place in a city under attack by a monstrous threat. A group of disparate strangers find themselves trapped underground, and must try and find a way out while fear consumes them..

June 21st sees the 25th Anniversary edition release of Uncle Sam on 4K Ultra HD from Blue Underground. This William Lustig directed horror is about a soldier killed in an accident in Kuwait as a result of friendly fire. Shipped back to his hometown, his remains manage to become reanimated, and he returns to carve a murderous path across his town during its annual Fourth of July celebration. The press release states 'Uncle Sam is an over-the-top, tongue in cheek satire about American's obsession with military dominance and the great lengths the nation will go in order to appeal to the country's youth'.

Alien abduction film, Static Codes is due to begin production this month in Thousand Oaks, Ca. This is to be directed by David M. Parks and will star Sadie Katz (Wrong Turn 6), Mike Ferguson (Amityville Uprising), and Shane Woodson (8 Days to Hell). The film is about a paralysed man whose wife was abducted ten years previously. He has dedicated his life to finding his wife, who he believes was abducted by aliens.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Distraint: Deluxe Edition (2015) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

A few years back I got in a real bad habit of buying no end of digital games in various sales. It became a problem as I wasn't actually playing these games, they were just joining an already out of control backlog (seriously, its well over a thousand games waiting to be played). Lately I have started pecking away at some of these games and Distraint: Deluxe Edition was one of those. It just goes to show how little I know of the games I own, as this turned out to be something quite a bit different than what I assumed it would be.

Distraint is a psychological horror game with a grotesque art style to it. You play as a young man named Price. You are a bailiff for a law firm and have been promised by the firm's three elderly bosses that should you successfully get three different tenants evicted from their properties that you will be made a partner. While there are other parts to this, the meat of the story has you solving minor puzzles in a limited 2D setting in order to evict three people. The first person you have to evict is an elderly and lonely woman and while you are successful, just what your job entails begins to really affect you, especially after learning the old woman was forced to move into a crueley run nursing home.

On the surface this doesn't scream horror, but the game has a distinct pixel based horror look to it, a letterboxed world of corridors and rooms that has the colour palette of a simplified Silent Hill, and the music to match it. There are six main areas in the game, including the three based around solving simple puzzles to evict tenants. In addition to the old woman, there is a level set at a log cabin out in the woods, and one that has you exploring a drug den in a squat. This is a dark world that is far more sinister than the real world. Here for example you will find a man in the basement of a nursing home chopping up the bodies of the recently deceased in order to save costs on funeral arrangements, and a large blood splattered dog who has recently savaged a fox. The game is 2D and has you as your gigantic headed protagonist waddling left to right, clicking on doors in the background to enter various rooms. There is no voice work in the game, instead the dialogue is all presented as basic looking text.

Friday, 17 June 2022

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology for Friday 17th June

This is the first of two news posts for this week. As I have mentioned in other places, I phoned in my blog posts this week due to heading to a War of the Worlds interactive experience in London this past Sunday. On to the news.

Prosper is a new horror film that was released via Midnight Releasing on June 3rd. This was written and directed by Deronte Smith and is about the last witch of Salem who returns after a fifty year absence in order to sacrifice people in order to keep her soul replenished. The film stars April Hollingsworth, Shayla Love, Nic Wolfe, Davien Harlis, Renier Cortes, Walnette Marie Santiago and Anastasia Pekhtereva.

The Unbroken is about a woman named Sarah who begins to get visions of a young boy who becomes associated with accidents that start happening around her. It stars Daniel Baldwin (Vampires, Grimm), Warwick Davis (Leprechaun, Willow) and Veryl Jones (The Punisher, Out of Time) and came to DVD on May 31st from Bayview Entertainment.

Finally, in this smaller post, a trailer has been released for Crime Traveler: The Adventures of Dave Slade. This eighty five minute Dave Sweeny film stars Nicholas M. Garofolo as the titular Dave Slade in a time travelling fantasy film about a reluctant hero. The press release states 'This film will be better then Top Gun Maverick...Best Summer 2002 movie - - coming soon!'. The trailer can be seen here.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Death Count (2022) - Horror Film Review

The Michael Su (Attack of the Unknown, Art of the Dead) directed Death Count falls firmly into the 'torture porn' genre of horror due to its focus on the torture of the group of kidnapped people. This felt to me like an indie version of Saw, being a lower budget it means the many scenes of violence feature special effects that aren't always the best but always fun to see, and while a little samey, this provided plenty of bloodshed.

Eight people awaken chained up in identical looking grimy cells with no memory of how they got there. They soon learn from a mysterious man calling himself Warden (Costas Mandylor - Saw VI, Saw V, Saw IV) that they are to participate in a round based game that is being watched on the dark web by countless viewers. Should they refuse to take part in the violent games then they will be killed, and any attempt to escape their confinement will result in the explosive device embedded in their neck detonating.

It soon becomes clear that Rachel (Sarah French - Art of the Dead) is the film's central protagonist, and while the film sometimes focuses on the other captives, it is her who gets the most screen time, and who is just about the most sympathetic of the bunch. The indie nature of this, and that it mainly appears to take place within a single room meant that I was reminded a lot of The Odds. The difference being the greater amount of characters here, most of which get taken out in various gory and original ways. The cast never get too much to their characters, the more aggressive ones shout threats and insults at the camera constantly, the more timid ones stand around and cry. There were some fun characters here amongst the cast, such as the very brief role played by Robert LaSardo (Attack of the Unknown).
Then there is the movie's subplot which was played slightly for laughs. This was a breath of fresh air in that it takes place out in the wider city, and centres on two incompetent but experienced detectives who have been put in charge of stopping the killings. To do this they spend half the film sat around in a busy office cracking jokes, and then the second half of the film randomly driving around while still cracking jokes. These parts are impacted by some dodgy acting at times, though with Michael Madsen (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Reservoir Dogs) playing one of these roles it wasn't all bad. For such a known actor he was in this more than I expected, though this subplot only makes up around a quarter of the eighty minute run time.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek (2011) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Lately while doing this blog at the weekend (for all my posts are typically written on a Saturday and Sunday) I have felt a bit like I'm dialing it all in, writing posts out of a feeling of obligation rather than feeling passionate. I blame all the video games I have been reviewing lately, I don't get nearly as much traffic for game reviews than I do for my film reviews. This weekend isn't the time to turn things around, I have just the one day I will be able to work on my blog as am going London for the day on the Sunday.
Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek is a hidden object adventure game (first released in 2011), a genre that reminds me of my parents, who at one point in their lives both played these games religiously. If that hadn't been the case I doubt I would have become interested in these and noticed that a fair few of them are horror based in nature.

The game starts off in an interesting way. You awaken in the middle of a storm ravaged village with your short term memory completely absent. You are a female detective who had headed to the area in search of the cause for the high number of missing people reported there, and it seems you had made some headway into your investigation. The memory loss however means you must start almost from scratch, with only the enigmatic (enigmatis?) notes and clues from your prior investigation to go on. What you discover is a village with a brainwashed population, something to do with a local preacher.

First off, that title is dumb. Sure, the game does take place at Maple Creek, but there are no ghosts at all here, it isn't that sort of horror game. Outside of the mystery of finding the location of all the missing girls, you also have to discover what is causing the village folk to act so weirdly. When hidden object games first appeared that was all you would do, search room after room of massively stuffed environments, with a whole laundry list of things to find. As the genre matured, these hidden object segments were made simpler, while a whole host of one shot mini games were introduced with a slight puzzle element to them. The puzzles here are as simple as the hidden object scenes, but not so simple that you don't need to at least vaguely use your brain. With the hidden object sections the only issues can come from not quite understanding what the object you are seeking actually looks like, but a generous hint system works there. With the puzzle sections these include such things as block puzzles and simple math problems. At any point you can use the hint system to point you towards where you need to go, while a map screen highlights any areas where you can do things to progress the game.