Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cockneys VS Zombies (2012) - Zombie Horror Film Review

This was to be the final film at Zombie-fest 2012 but unfortunately due to a late start I had to miss this and instead drive home. I finally got to see it last night but was it worth the wait?

Two builders on a construction site accidentally stumble across an old tomb. Going inside to investigate they are quickly set upon by zombies sealed in there. The builders turn into the undead themselves and the disease spreads until the whole of London's east end finds itself in the grip of a zombie outbreak. Meanwhile two brothers decide to rob a bank in order to get some money to stop their Grandad Ray's retirement home from being closed down (which also happens to be next to the construction site the plague has been unleashed from).  The brothers find themselves caught up in the outbreak and begin a plan to go rescue Grandad and his friends.

I really don't know what to make of this film, by the films end I was still undecided on what I thought of it. Cockneys VS Zombies just doesn't feel like it knows what it wants to be and has some bad casting choices. Alan Ford (Bricktop from Snatch) pretty much reprises his role here, but instead cast as a good guy. He swears like a sailor throughout but just looks a bit lost as he stumbles round trying to act like a leader for his friends, all bark but no bite. Maybe it is because he looks and sounds just like Bricktop but he doesn't seem to fit well into his role at all.  The brothers Andy and Terry (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) act well as brothers but they, along with their cousin (Michelle Ryan from Eastenders) and friend all look far too young to be portrayed as hardened criminals, not the least bit threatening.

The film is a comedy and really does have some amazingly funny sequences (an early highlight involving a toddler zombie). The trailer for the film shows most of the best bits though and to be fair when it hits, it hits with its comedy, such as an old man with a zimmer frame being chased very, very slowly by a shambling zombie across a back garden. The notion of football fans still fighting even when turned into zombies was inspired! A lot of the time the film resorts to 'awesome' moments of the characters taking out hordes of zombies against the odds, but by the films end this has occurred so many times that it just has totally lost its power.

In zombie films usually hardly anyone, if anyone at all survives, even in the comedy ones you get a good spectrum of characters good and bad dying. It is a mild spoiler but in Cockneys VS Zombies a large chunk of the cast survive, especially ridiculous considering over half the characters are old age and not able to move very fast at all. The obviously bad characters stand no chance while anyone remotely portrayed as good or heroic live to fight another day.

The plot is not fantastic but does give an excuse for lots of zombie violence. The way the bank robbers find out the outbreak has happened is really quite cool, trapped in the bank surrounded by Police they head outside to confront the law only to discover them all suddenly all dead and undead. The effects are really quite good even if a lot of CGI is also used. A pre title jaw ripping off sets things up nicely. Later cool effects are used such as a zombie having its head twisted round backwards, stuff I hadn't really seen being done before. There are lots of guns in the film (a plot point makes this plausible) and these are the main weapon used but sometimes, especially the crowd shots of zombies getting killed look just a bit too fake and CGI'd.

A fun film, really quite funny at times, and has an impressive looking budget (slick and professional looking) but too many times just falls onto the side of just another zombie film that doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from the horde.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

DmC: Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising, and Dead Space 3 - X-Box 360 Demo Round-Up

I have just played through three demos of games that are out, or are out soon and thought I would give my thoughts based on what I played. Despite what I may say about these I know at some point or other I will be getting them all.

DmC: Devil May Cry

Painful title aside this was the best of the bunch.  I have never gotten on with the Devil May Cry games. I excitedly brought the first one as not only was it getting rave reviews everywhere but it was actually adapted from an early attempt to create Resident Evil 4.  I soon discovered a game that was simply far too hard for me on normal, I just could not progress very far at all. The next difficulty down; easy was very boring as not only did it make the game ridiculously easy but it also removed a lot of the cool boss fights that appeared in the other difficulties.

Ninja Theory have taken on this game, created as a reboot for the series. It is pretty awesome. The first part of the demo has you in a European feeling town. Playing as Dante the demon hunter you travel into the demon dimension version of the town that basically screws with the architecture Inception style giving some cool looking geometry. It seems you have access to a lot of weapons at once, was fun in a Bayonetta way fighting the demons, rather than the hand aching DMC of old. It ended with a fantastic journey through a morphed church with the level constantly stretching into the distance with a great looking effect.

The 2nd part of the demo was a boss fight against a very ugly giant, foul mouthed insect demon. The dialogue through this fight was real fun and the ease with which you beat up the strange creature gave a sense of empowerment.  I want this game, before the demo I had little interest in it.

Metal Gear Rising

Rising takes place about 5 years after the (probably) convoluted events of Metal Gear Solid 4.  You play as Raiden who is very much a cyborg after he seems to have lost most his body. Armed with a sword that can cut though most objects (cars, bridges, humans, and even watermelons) you fight your way through an old town. As expected with a Metal Gear game there is lots of cut scenes and exposition. It feels like it is near the start of the game due to the amount of interruptions you get, and the sparsely populated level. After fighting a bunch of cyborgs and leaping robots you get into a boss fight against a robot dog that has a chainsaw for a tail. After working out how to parry I quickly dispatched this nuisance and the demo ended.   It was fun enough but didn't really feel like anything special, will keep my eye out for the reviews to see how it holds up.

Dead Space 3

I entered this demo full of concern seeing as I have heard nothing but bad things about this game due to it pandering to the casual market and trying to stamp out any remains of horror. You get a choice of co-op or single player, of course I chose single player as I am never going to play the game in co-op. I have no desire to, and I have no actual person I would ever play it with.

As Issac you work your way though a snowy mountainous region of some planet you have crash landed on. The outdoor locations look great, very wide open in appearance (though did seem to be relegated to narrow mountain paths). Necromorphs made a welcome return, this time decked out in The Thing style snow gear and bursting out of the snow rather than from vents. The Thing was such an inspiration for the series so I guess it makes sense for it to come full circle.  After a bit of exploring I came across the damn co-op character who thankfully disappeared rather than joined to fight alongside me. An uninspired boss battle against a large crab like monster followed which lasted a tad too long.

After this I encounted some human enemies. The necromorphs thankfully don't like the human bad guys either so each time I found some they were comically killed by the monsters.  A fight against a giant drill (!) then led me out to a cliff top where I actually got to fight some humans. Cover based mechanics just feel weird in a Dead Space game, something the monsters found as well as they would run up to my cover and then just constantly run against it powerless while I stood there shooting them to pieces. The demo ended with the appearance of a giant monster, hardly surprising.

While the demo did not get me any more excited for the game it was passable. The outdoor locations looked great, but the few indoor locations all looked quite bland and samey. I won't be getting this until it goes down in price.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dreadtime Stories: Living Space - Horror Audiobook Reviews

Dreadtime stories are a collection of short horror audio dramas that so far have not disappointed. Previously I had done a double review of two different zombie tales (A Fungus Among Us, and The Late Shift) now I am moving on to other horror tales.

Living Space tells the tale of a New York apartment with a difference, the owner Mr Winkler rents out the apartment for a dirt cheap price. For such a cheap price there must be a catch right?  This being Dreadtime Stories of course there is a catch, a most deadly catch that a young couple gone to view the place most certainly find out.

Living Space (by M.J Elliott) is fantastic, just superb, I enjoyed the previous stories I had heard but this is the first one that is so perfectly contained, so bare bones in its delivery, and so chilling that it is almost a perfect tale. Previously the scope of the tales has been so large that they have sometimes felt a bit confusing and rushed. Living Space is perfectly captured, fitting as it is all about a couple trapped in a deadly room. A cast of 4 characters (though mainly just three central ones), an intriguing premise and some fantastic actors (including Marshall Allman from True Blood and Jamie Anne Allman from The Killing). Though maybe it is a bit of a cheat saying it is good acting when the Allmans here are playing a couple but are married in real life anyway.

As always for the Dreadtime Story reviews I have to mention the legend Malcolm McDowell, his narration drips with gleeful malice, he is perfect for the show, the cherry on top of the cake. The plot is sharp and concise, at about 42 minutes the story does not outstay its welcome and has twists that I just did not see coming as well as some grim descriptions and  discoveries. Some of the reactions from the trapped couple did seem a little strange, the boyfriend may have been a comedian but the sprinkling of humorous bickering between the couple at times seemed a little unrealistic.

If you only listen to one Dreadtime Story then I completely recommend Living Space. Scary, exciting and original, almost perfect I might dare say. Living Space can be brought from Audio Go for the very cheap price of just 99p


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Little Big Boy: The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Duncan (2012) - Horror Film Review

Controversial indie film Little Big Boy is set out as a fake documentary (mockumentary I think is the proper term for it). It is an indie film so helps having a documentary style that tries to mask how low budget it all was.

The film charts the rise and fall of acclaimed cult film director Jimmy Duncan who during working on his fourth film 'Death Stalker' turned murderer butchering a series of woman. Through interviews with actors and actresses who worked for him, as well as ex girlfriends and others a picture is drawn of Duncan as a very bad tempered, very arrogant man who loathed women. Basically a nasty piece of work.

To call this film horror is to wrongly label it, I must admit I was expecting more of a horror bent to things, most the film charts Duncan's tale up to the murders, the part covering the killings is actually very short.  It isn't a serious film at all, making fun of film production and film crew in general while keeping tongue firmly in cheek while conducting the interviews with the various people. Some of the stories about Duncan are darkly funny, such as when he went crazy on an air plane and ended up being barricaded in the toilets by staff and banned from flying which meant he had to get home to America from Sweden by boat (quite amusing).

A lot of the interviews are giving by what I guess are cult film stars, I am not really into indie films so can't say I had heard of any of them except for cult film director, and owner of Troma films; the legend Lloyd Kaufmann. I haven't actually seen any of his films but I have read enough interviews from him to follow him on Twitter. Anyway his segments are by far the most funny parts of the film, I think he may have ad libbed his segments talking about Jimmy Duncan as they are all offbeat and hilarious, a real highlight of the film.

It's a shame that  the film does get boring, too much charts random side parts of the story and seemed geared just to get some female flesh shown. There is a lot of nudity in Little Big Boy, dozens of females go topless while there is even a few segments of full frontal nudity. It is all shown in context of the documentary (such as casting sessions and showing footage from the hidden cameras Duncan had installed in his bedroom) but feels needless and tacky, especially as the film is low budget and looks it, so the females all look grimy and real, bad lighting not complimenting them at all.

The director Kim Sonderholm stars as Jimmy Duncan and looks and comes across mostly convincingly as a man with serious anger management issues,  though at times does seem like a pantomime villain, he only really comes into his own by the films end which is a shame. The low budget makes the interview segments work well but even for being cheap some of the filming is extremely ugly looking which even extends to some of the sound. Bizarre use of green screen on some scenes don't help matters.

Little Big Boy is a different film, I will give it that and I thought the documentary style was fun, it's just a shame the film as a whole feels disjointed, reaching a conclusion that revealed nothing of note about anything making it feel a bit of a wasted trip. Too much bad looking nudity and not enough substance but just about stayed on the right side of interesting.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Download Horror (2012) - Horror Film Review

Well now, this is one strange film, I don't really know what to make of it. Citing Mystery Science Theater 3000 as an inspiration this follows the same format. A cheesy horror film is what you are watching but it has a humorous commentary playing over it of two Scottish friends also watching the film and taking the mick out of it.

The film within a film is called Sacrificed, filmed in Edinburgh, it's a story about a woman who buys a strange dagger that comes with a statue. As soon as she gets hold of the two objects she seems to become possessed for as soon as she returns to her flat she stabs to death her creepy landlord. Around a year later and she has married a rich man (seemingly for his money). The husband is suspicious of his wife and has hired a detective to find out what she does with her spare time. One evening the woman invites a load of her friends to her mansion with (I can only assume) the sole intent of creating more sacrifices to the strange God she seems to be possessed by.

Meanwhile also watching Sacrificed are two Scottish men, they have got a bootleg of the film, something which they say they often do. They comment on the film making jokes of the acting and plot as if they were watching it alone, not for the benefit of an audience.

Taken on it's own Sacrificed would be a terrible film I think. It has lots of terrible acting, nonsense plot points and dodgy camera action and effects. The film does feature zombies which I enjoyed seeing and has some fun violent scenes (a woman taking a bath puts two cucumber slices over her eyes and then is suddenly stabbed through both eyes with a pair of chopsticks was a highlight). Overall though the film was a bit of a confusing mess.

On the one hand adding a comedy commentary is a good move, the two men sound like friends and there is something warming about them casually talking over the film, it felt like I was watching the film with them. For the most part what they are saying is not important, or funny but it is relaxing. A few occasions I did laugh out loud at their comments but a few too many times they just descend into raw sexism, objectifying the many female actresses. This is all in their character of course and felt natural they would do that but it did get a bit stale. I found they were at their best when they go off on tangents that has nothing to do with the film, such as when they discuss their favourite horror films, more things like that would have been good.

The problem is really that it falls into the same trap as Mystery Science Theater 3000 in that sometimes the talking over the film really gets in the way of the film, times where I wanted to hear what characters where saying was made impossible by the men drowning out the film. I realise as I said that if I had seen the film on it's own I would not have been impressed though it has that certain feeling of it being so bad it's good almost.

 As a horror experience The Download Horror is not that great, as a comedy it doesn't really hit, but strangely it felt like I was in company while watching the film which was a good novelty.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Brutal (2012) - Horror Film News

As is fast becoming my mantra or catchphrase here is yet another blog piece about something I was alerted to many months back. This time it is news about a horror film named Brutal.

It looks to be a horror film that sits firmly in the torture genre, from what I can tell a family man is kidnapped by a crazed killer who tortures his victim based on the spins of a home made roulette wheel. I am not usually too keen on torture films, but there is the occasional gem.

Brutal starts A. Michael Baldwin, he was the main character in the fantastic Phantasm series of films and this looks to be his first film role since Phantasm IV back in 1998! The soundtrack also sounds like it should be good as it is composed by Alan Howarth who has worked on such horror classics as Army of Darkness, They Live, The Thing, and Poltergeist.

Back in July the film had been completed and the company were looking for distribution. The film is available to purchase from their website as well as a load of cool Brutal branded objects including rather bizarrely a potato peeler. Truth be told I don't know much about this film, what I do know interests me though.

Monday, 14 January 2013

White Devil: Issue 1 - Horror Comic Review

As mentioned in previous posts it is my sincere intention to catch up with all the outstanding posts I need to be doing on my blog.  Now back in July last year (cannot believe it has been that long!) I received issue 1 of a new horror comic called White Devil written by Matt Evans and Andrew Helinski. Arriving stylishly late here is my review of issue 1 of what is to be a 4 part series.

On the surface Judy appears to a normal American housewife. She lives in a quiet town, married to a wonderful husband with two beautiful children. Things should be perfect for her yet there is something missing in her life that has led her to pursue strange hobbies.  Under the pretence of going to book club with her best friend Betty they instead go to woodland meetings where under the guidance of a unholy priest they perform black mass with other regular townsfolk. Seen as something to bring a little excitement to their lives they don't really believe in the devil worship, but it seems that something is listening from within the void, something which has been summoned to the world by the groups actions.

Being an indie comic I was quite excited to read this. They often seem to have the best ideas and less likely to stay to rigid story structures. What first drew me in was the art style. Art is by Nate Burns, it's black and white, ink drawings that have character to them, sometimes with the more indie comics characters can all seem to look the same, was good to see here they are all distinct and have a charm to them in the way they are both cartoony, and also realistic in proportions. A slight issue with some of the flowery text being a bit hard to read, squinting a bit I could make it out though so not a giant problem!

Issue 1 sets up the story for what is to follow in later issues so horror wise there is not a lot here. That isn't to say it is boring though, told from the perspective of Judy it gives good insight into just why she has ended up doing such strange activities. The black mass is an expected mass of ugly bodies grinding together but the meeting culminates with the arrival of a horror. Will be interesting to see where it goes from here and if it succeeds in being creepy.

A solid start to the series and it sets things up nicely so as an introduction it works. If you feel like checking it out issue 1 can be viewed on the White Devil website: here.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Supernatural Season 4 - Horror TV Show Review

After re-watching the first 3 seasons of Supernatural I was well up for seeing Season 4. Spoilers ahead for those who have not seen the previous 3 seasons and also unavoidable spoilers for Season 4 (to be fair even the back of the DVD box gives away these spoilers).

With Dean being dragged to Hell at the end of 3 there was not much the show could do other than spit him back out, and that's exactly what happens. Awaking in a coffin Dean emerges to find out 4 months have passed since he died. He soon learns that he was pulled out of Hell by Castiel; an angel (such a good introduction scene for him!). Season 4 revolves around the battle between demons and angels, the demons led by head demon Lilith intend to start Armageddon. While Season 2 tried to have the whole 'dark side' storyline of Sam succumbing to the evil within him it failed, here the plot is resurrected, this time Sam's descent to evil is far more believable, his blossoming power gives him the ability to exorcise demons using just the power of his mind...but at what cost?

I thought this season was possibly the best yet, the main storyline of Supernatural has always been a bit lame but here it hits its stride a bit more clearly, the battle between Heaven and Hell can't fail to be epic, and for the first time the story feels like it could carry on over multiple seasons rather than be confined to one. Worries that the show could become a bit preachy and religious are put to rest when it becomes readily apparent that the angels are mostly utter dicks, uncaring about humanity and carrying a huge superiority complex.

Misha Collins is the best of the new characters, playing the emotionless Castiel with real weight that gives his brief appearances an impactful feeling. Supernatural does its usual job of introducing both awesome and lame characters and then quickly killing them off before they get a chance to shine. By far the best new bad guy comes in the form of slimy demon Alastair; the head torturer of Hell, the worst new character is 'riot girl' psychic Pamela, I was delighted to see the pain and misery her character endures though. I don't think it is sexism but the shows writers really seem to hate females on the show.

After the writers strike made season 3 shorter than normal it is good to see it come back up to 22 episodes, it gives the team a chance to make some weirder ones, as well as the usual hit or miss comedy ones. Some of the more out there episodes include 'In the Beginning' where Dean is transported through time to the early 70's, 'It's a Terrible Life' where Dean and Sam seem to be in an alternate reality where they are office workers, 'After School Special' that visits the Winchester boys as teenagers (the actors who play their younger selves are very well cast), and a real strange one 'The Monster at the End of This Book' where they discover a series of pulp books named 'Supernatural' that chronicle their previous adventures with spooky accuracy.

Not all the episodes are good though, as I said some of the comedy episodes just don't work. 'Monster Movie' is a homage to the old Universal monster movies and as such is filmed in black and white, kinda boring truth be told. The other comedy episodes are not quite so bad but the image of a 8 foot tall suicidal Teddy Bear is kinda stupid even for this show! Monster of the week episodes pop up every now and again, it seems a bit strange in light of the broad plot that the boys would take out time to solve these cases but are well done.

There has often been bad attempts at creating tension and division among the boys, here it works a lot better as it is readily visible the differences they have leading to quite a few fist fights between them. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it trying to compare addiction to magic to addiction to drugs is really quite stupid. Sam's magic withdrawal episode where he sits hallucinating and sweating over not getting his fix was pathetic and unbelievable.

The show has a budget, that can be seen but it still relegates a lot of the action to off screen, usually Sam and Dean will wander on to the aftermath of a huge battle rather then see it first hand. Season finale was another real good episode, as expected now the season ended on a huge cliffhanger that has me counting down the days until I get paid so I can buy season 5. A fantastic show that even with some bad episodes is still well worth seeing.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Gangsters, Guns and Zombies (2012) - Zombie Horror Film Review

This film was the highlight of my time at Zombiefest 2012. The title alone was enough to put me off, it sounded like it would be a terrible low budget mess. It turns out that it could quite possibly be the funniest zombie film I have ever seen. Has to be said first of all that it is another terrible zombie film cover. I really must do a blog post about them some day as there are at least 7 or 8 films that have come out in the last few years that have pretty much the exact same cover.

Gangsters, Guns and Zombies takes place during a British zombie outbreak. For the most part normal life is continuing despite zombies everywhere. Taking advantage of this disaster a bunch of gangsters rob a bank.  The film starts with the gang in their getaway van on the way to their safe house. One of the gang has been shot, it is the getaway drivers first time and the Sat Nav is playing up. Finding the safe house swarming with Police the gang's boss Tony (played by Huggy Leaver like Brick Top from Snatch) decides to get his boys to head to a second safe house, one far, far away by the coast.  As the crew road trip across the country though it becomes more and more apparent that the zombie outbreak isn't just a flash in the pan, it could actually be the beginning of the end for mankind.

This film is hilarious, despite the low budget it really is the funniest zombie film I have ever had the joy of seeing, even better than the heavy hitter Shaun of the Dead.  This is down to the main cast of characters whose reactions, and actions in the world are a combination of a witty script and perfect comic timing. There are so many laugh out loud moments in the film that it is hard to really pick just one to demonstrate the fantastic humour embedded deep within the adventure.

So many memorable scenes spring to mind, even though it is around two months since seeing the film (yeah, I kind of should have gotten to reviewing this a tad bit sooner) so much stuff sticks in my mind.  One scene has the gang taking their injured friend to hospital. They all scurry out the van carrying the guy between them, telling the driver they will return soon. Then cuts to the next scene, the gang all carrying the man in the exact same way but instead charging out the hospital back to the safety of the van as hordes of zombie nurses and Dr's pursue them, the description does not do it justice.  Another wonderfully done scene has someone dying, you see him in the afterlife walking through cornfields in a beautifully lit, sunny paradise, then it abruptly cuts to the real world where his body is unceremoniously being dumped into a shallow grave, very funny contrasts.

Despite being criminals you really do root for the gang, they are dim, bumbling, and harmless (giant, tough guy 'Muscles' played by Charlie Rawes has such an innocent outlook and comes out with such stupid lines that he became my very favourite character). It can be hard to make you care about characters in zombie films but here you really do. The whole final scene had me near holding my breath with concern for the gangs safety.

It's not all perfect, it is a low budget film and it really does show in places. Zombie make up is very bad, and one transformation sequence in particular had some very bad effects used.  A lot of the time the film has groups of similarly dressed zombies appear, one sequence has a bunch of zombie clowns appear, while an all girls zombie football team, zombie historical re-enactment group and others also appear. Groups like this appear just one too many times to appear natural. It could also be said that the films main character 'Q' (Vincent Jerome) is just a bit too plain, compared to the oddballs he is working with he does seem a bit too straight and normal. Less said about his love interest the better as she in particular just feels added in to tick a box.

I am not doing a good job at championing this film, it is an essential viewing if you have any care at all for zombies or comedy, I cannot wait to get to own this, is sure to become one of my all time favourite films I am sure! Don't let the low budget, and sometimes awful CGI and effects put you off.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Meadowhell by Craig Daley - Surreal Murder Myster Graphic Novel Review

Meadowhell is the first of Daley's surreal murder mystery graphic novels. They start off with an introduction saying that all the clues are contained in the story so that you can work out what has occurred yourself. I tried, I really did but was very off the mark.

Meadowhell is set in 1990 at the Meadowhall shopping centre. A few days before it is set to open to the public three security guards are found dead, very dead as they are just skeletons. The blood of the three guards is spread far and wide all over the centre with no apparent murder weapon, motive or real suspects. D.C.I Bramley (an expert in solving strange cases) is called in to investigate. As he delves deeper into the case the questions just keep on coming. Could it be part of a ritual? a gangland killing? or something far more strange and surreal?

Daley always shows a real obsessive amount of detail in his work, he is no exception. Meadowhall is a real shopping centre (again set in Sheffield like most his work), and is actually nicknamed Meadowhell due to the large crowds that shop there. So much work goes into giving a realistic bend to his comics that it really sets them apart from others which just do not have the same level of crazy detail.

As always I must mention the frankly bizarre art style used, it stands out like 1950's pop art, bright colours, odd looking humans and a sometimes confusing panel layout all gives it a real charm. The art style is at times playful, especially when it covers real life people such as the presenters of GMTV shown here. I don't think it is coincidence that two of the main characters D.I Sutton and Bramley's assistant Belle resemble Mulder and Scully from the X-Files.

Most of what happens is detective work, Bramley speaking to witnesses and professionals to try and piece together what has occurred and who is responsible. Some real bizarre ideas are put through, such as when the D.C.I talks to a scientist about how the skin got so cleanly removed from the bones of the victims, at times it seems characters do leap to silly explanations far too quickly.  I never guessed what was really going on, when I found out I was surprised, very clever once again and going back you can see a ridiculous amount of clues littering the comic which unless you are insane you would just never pick up on.

An interesting read, more than his other work I was really drawn into this world, desperate to find out just what was going on. Meadowhell and Daley's other comics can be purchased at a variety of places on the internet including Drive-Thru, Smashwords and on Kindle.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) - Horror Film Review

I have just gotten back from seeing Texas Chainsaw 3D. I had seen the trailer but had it in my head that this was yet another re-make. Surprisingly it is actually a direct sequel to the 1974 original cult classic.

Texas Chainsaw 3D starts off directly after the events of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The surviving girl has altered the police who send a lone officer to the house of freaks. Calming the family down it seems like they are going to give up Leatherface to the officer but this peace is shattered when a band of vigilante rednecks show up. They shoot up the house, then torch it for good measure apparently killing everyone inside...everyone except a baby girl who is rescued by one of the rednecks. Skip forward to 2012 and teen Heather receives a letter that says her aunt has passed away and left her her estate. Discovering she was adopted she heads to Texas with some friends to find out about her real family. Turns out her aunts house still has someone living in it, someone believed dead,  who wears a mask made out of human skin and is quite the chainsaw expert...

There are so many ridiculous flaws, plot holes, and generic beats that it is hard to really think this film is any good. For starters Heather (played by attractive Alexandra Daddario) is a teen, yet the film takes place nearly 40 years from when she was found as a baby...hmm.  Next up in the heap of inconsistencies are the many generic teen slasher tropes that just make you want to scream.  Upon arriving at the mansion where Leatherface resides Heather is handed a letter and urged to read it ASAP yet it is only towards the films end she bothers to open it which would have saved a hell of a lot of trouble. Couples cheat on each other, people give out hokey one liners before doing 'bad ass' things, characters do that all too pathetic thing of getting over the death of loved ones super quickly, talking of which...

Some plot spoilers here. Basically for the first half of the film it is Heather and her friends being chased around by Leatherface and butchered left, right, and centre. A halfway plot twist reveals that the leaders of the small town the film takes place in are actually the same rednecks who butchered the cannibals at the films start and want Heather dead leading her to team up with Leatherface. Now he had killed her boyfriend, best friend, and others hours earlier but she seems to just forget all that and spins on a dime to join the dark side.

Leatherface is lost as a character here. Your made to feel sympathy for him yet he is a monster, his family deserved to die. Sure the Police and Mayor are bad people but they did do the right thing in my opinion so being expected to see what they did as a travesty of justice is plain stupid. The character of Heather is played so lamely that it is hard to even see her as a real person, just a empty character.

The 3D is what you would expect, lots of chainsaws being stuck out into the audience, as well as splatters of blood.  There is quite a bit of gore, mostly people having hands, fingers, feet etc sliced off. What the film lacks is pacing, it feels like two different films patched together, neither one is scary, or even creepy. Leatherface is a beast but just has no impact. There are good scenes here but are few and far between thanks to it so hard trying to be a teen slasher. Would probably say the first five minutes are the best recreating the 70's classic end in 3D was quite cool.

I enjoyed the film, it is just a shame that it lacks the chills of the first one, lacks the madness and is just muted.  Adding on an extra Rotting Zombie head for Alexandra being a nice piece of eye candy.  You may have noticed I have changed my rating system to out of 10. This was due to everything I reviewed getting a 3 all the time!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Gut (2012) - Horror Film Review

Well I have just finished watching Gut. My new years resolution was to get more up to date with my blog. Gut is an American thriller that has almost an art house feel to it.

Jason Vail stars as Tom; an everyday American man with a wife and child and a normal 9 to 5 office job. He has started to get disillusioned with his life, to his friends and his family he has started to become increasingly distant and lost. Something is missing. Best friend; geeky,  horror film obsessive Dan (Nicholas Wilder) introduces Tom one night to a strange DVD he received at his P.O box that appears to show a woman being sliced open. Repulsed and fascinated by what he sees Tom becomes obsessed, dreaming and hallucinating about it as it takes over his life. While Tom becomes more and more distant and erratic Dan is the opposite, he becomes more confident and reckless. More DVD's turn up, each showing a similar scene but it all becomes too real when Dan discovers a new film in his box, one starring someone he knows...It seems whoever created the films is now out to get Tom and Dan for reasons unknown putting them and everyone they know at risk.

This is a really bleak, miserable film it has to be said. Not helped by the very effective droning soundtrack that just creates a sense of creepiness and unease that gets under your skin. It looks like it had a very low budget, there are only really four locations used (the office, a diner, Dan's house, and Tom's house), all of which are all dull and dank looking. Tom is not likable, coming across as depressed and without aim, as the film progresses his relationship with his wife deteriorates visibly to the point where he can't even bare to look at her. He doesn't know what is missing. Meanwhile his relationship with long time best friend Dan also gets rocked. Dan seems unhappy that he doesn't get to hang out much anymore with Tom now he has a wife and child, this coupled with the Tom's secret plans to move across the country lead to the fracturing of the two men, trying to hold onto what little friendship they have left.

The DVD's they watch seem to have almost a supernatural power to them. Both drawn to the almost erotic violence it gives out. The hand slicing open female victims bodies almost lovingly creates a sense of unreality that seems to enthral the men.  One complaint I did have with the film is how drawn out and long some shots are. Scenes of Tom driving, laying in bed sweating etc just linger too long for no real reason. Having said that my favourite scene of the film was one of these. Tom's wife is laying in bed facing the camera, then Tom in the background gets into bed, her eyes are open like she is hoping Tom will give her some affection. Suddenly he reaches over to switch off the bedside light. A sad scene that was oddly effective.

The plot was too drawn out, the twists were pleasing if not too surprising. Overall I got a real sense of unease from watching this. I was half expecting the film to cut away to footage of someone I love being cut open, now that would have been truly shocking! If you have the patience to see it through it is worth the journey, an unsettling voyage indeed and one that leaves you with lots of questions.


Deadlight (2012) - Zombie Horror Video Game Review (X-Box 360)

I have wanted Deadlight for a long time but early reviews  gave a mixed impression. Over Christmas it went half price on the X-Box store and so I snapped it up.  Deadlight is a 2D platform game in the vein of Another World or Flashback and features a unique visual style that puts everything in shadows.

The game takes place in Seattle in 1986 after zombie apocalypse has swept the world. You play as ex park ranger Randall Smith who is on a mission to locate his missing wife and child who he is convinced are still alive. The game begins with you being separated from your group of fellow survivors you have been travelling with. They all drive off in a van towards a location known as the "Safe Point"; a place said to be free from Shadows (what the humans have named the zombies) and where Randall thinks his family must be. Deciding to meet them later you head through the ruined streets to make your own way there.  Now we have all seen zombie films, and we all know there are no 'safe points'. Here as everywhere else humans are the real monsters...

The game takes place over three chapters, each made up of around ten levels each. You for the most part head from left to right using a series of simple puzzles to both proceed through the ruins of civilisation and also to outwit the dumb Shadows who want to eat your flesh. Shadows can be tricked into walking off high ledges, getting electrocuted, having heavy objects dropped on them and more. For the most part Randall is weaponless. For portions of the game you get access to a fire axe that can break windows and locks, it can be used to hit the Shadows but is only worth doing that as a last resort as is all too easy to be dragged to the ground.  Later in the game you do get access to firearms, but ammo is never in a large enough supply that you can rest easy.

Now it has been a while since I played this, playing it just before Christmas last year so my memory is a bit fuzzy on some points. The plot is ok, nothing special, the flashbacks to the start of the apocalypse are well handled, though the ham fisted twist that is revealed at games end was very, very obvious. There may be spoilers ahead!  Hidden in levels are lost pages from Randall's diary as well as I.D cards for various dead humans. Interestingly all these I.D badges have the names of infamous serial killers, it is hinted that Randall himself may have been a serial killer pre-Armageddon, yet only hinted at, it is never denied or confirmed leaving an interesting grey area, but the badges as well as some odd diary entries certainly led me to think that.

Randall is not a likable character, he's gruff, unfriendly and so set on his family that he doesn't really seem to care about anyone else (yet is still happy to go on fetch quests for them).  The first part of the game sees you traversing streets and warehouses. Part two sees you in a ridiculously elaborate sewer base that writings of the poet Dante found there elude to it being a recreation of Hell (fittingly with hanging bodies in the background and deadly traps everywhere).  The last section of the game sees you finally getting to 'Safe Point' and finding out the answer to everything.

At some points in the game you just have to run headlong, these are usually quite exciting as you have not only Shadows chasing you, but also walking out of the background and being ahead of you, so it is a mad race that gets the blood pumping. Later on there was quite an awesome chase that involved a helicopter gunship. A few of these sequences involve collapsing buildings where death is always near, these were not so good.

The game looks fantastic, backgrounds have a lot of movement to them and depth, giving the world a real feel. It does seem strange at times being stuck in 2D when the levels look so open. There is a lot of variety to the game, and frequent live comic book style cut scenes keep everything ticking along nicely. You will die a lot but checkpoints are very player friendly. I found it a blast to replay earlier levels, being able to charge through them without dying made the game look so wonderful and fun to play.

Really not a lot to say negative about this. I had a really fun time from start to finish completing it in two sittings. A zombie game with a difference.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Welcome to 2013: General Update

After quite an unplanned extended break I am finally back to once again take up the mantle of the Rotting Zombie. I have plenty to do, so much with lots of people patiently waiting for me to do posts about their films, books and more.

I got a load of horror films for Christmas including Day of the Zombie, Zombie Nation, The Zombie Farm and classic Jigsaw. I have yet to watch my horror films I got for last Christmas so a lot of catching up to do. Also got a bloody shower curtain and some blood based shower gel which has proceeded to leak everywhere!

Now for a small review of some deceptive cereal...

Chocolate flavoured hoops. Now these are called Spooky Hoops, I at first failed to see why.  Several days later it was late at night and I came under sustained attack by three seven foot tall Spooky Hoops. Luckily I had my friend Pint O' Milk with me, he soon made them soft enough to eat.

Rubbish! Actually this breakfast cereal was not the least bit spooky. Stop with the misnamed food products everyone!


I hope sometime this year to change my rating system to out of 10 rather than 5. Exciting news at The Rotting Zombie HQ.