Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Top Five Horror TV Shows, Horror Films, and Horror Video Games of 2016

Yesterday the Fright Meter Awards announced it's nominees for 2016, I shall be covering that in the new year. Now in what I hope to be a yearly tradition I shall be announcing what I personally believe to be the top horror of the year. I shall be giving lists for best horror TV show, best horror films, best horror video game, and a small shout out. Some of the items on this list didn't come out this year but they are eligible to me if this year was the first opportunity I got to experience them.

Best Horror TV Show 2016

5. The Returned: Season 2

I never expected this to get a second season so was delighted it did. This French slow burn of a supernatural mystery can on occasion frustrate due to it's inscrutability but it looks so beautiful with some fantastic acting.

4. Z Nation: Season 3

By this point the utter craziness of Z Nation is no longer a surprise, this season could be accused of treading water a bit, and I didn't like the direction some of the characters were taken in but Doc never fails to entertain, and again a huge cliff hanger to leave you wanting more.

3. The Walking Dead: Season 6

Due to the way the show is shown there is always only half a season shown in any one year. As season 7 is only halfway through I don't think it's fair to include that. I am so invested in the characters by this point that I am never going to dislike The Walking Dead, however season 6 did suffer a bit by some infuriating plot decisions and a nasty ending. On the flip side some of my most hated characters got lovingly killed off and there were some amazing episodes (such as the mid-season finale).

2. Ash vs Evil Dead: Season 2

Despite doing more of the same I really enjoyed the second season of this hilarious and bloody show. The plot may be simple but with such likeable characters in the form of Pablo and Ash, and a deep love for the Evil Dead films this can do little wrong.

1. Stranger Things

For a while this was a show nearly everyone was talking about. I love it's deep rooted sense of the 80's, I loved the awesome score, and the young actors were all amazing. My only complaints for this are that it was too short, and I didn't totally like how it was blatantly setting up a future season at the end.

Best Horror Film 2016

5. Grave Walkers

This film has style in spades, the zombies look awesome, and there are some moments that rival anything I have seen in other films this year. This is let down only by some at times awful looking CGI effects, and kind of a patchy plot.

4. Morgan

I saw this movie in the optimal conditions, the cinematography is just so stunning, a film that I want to own purely for it's aesthetic qualities. The acting is understated and while the plot itself is predictable I was mesmerised by the whole thing.

3. Demon

I thought this was a well directed and edited film when I first saw this Polish horror but it didn't at first register as in the running for film of the year. However, over a month later and Demon has just never left my mind, there is just something about it that fascinates me, plus the acting of the main lead is phenomenal.

2. Train to Busan

My friend was far more excited to see this South Korean zombie flick than I was, but once I actually started watching I was enraptured. I have never seen such bizarre, unsettling looking undead before here. I cannot wait to own this one on Blu-Ray.

1. Asmodexia

It's been a year for great foreign horrors. Asmodexia is a Spanish excorcism film that manages to flip the whole genre on it's head. It has the addictive qualities of a half remembered dream, let down only by a sub plot that lost me a bit. The clever use of editing, and the way it all flows makes this my favourite horror I have seen in 2016.

Best Horror Video Game 2016

5. Zombie Army Trilogy

A very inventive, fun, 3rd person shooter in which your primary weapon is a sniper rifle. I love that it is three seperate games combined into one as you can see a huge shift in quality as you progress through the long campaign. Plus there is zombie Hitler...

4. Doom

I was worried that this latest entry in the saga would be too action orientated, after all Doom 3 is one of my favourite games of all time. Thankfully this does keep some of the exploration element, and I have to admit while the focus falls far too heavily on kill rooms the combat itself is deeply satisfying.

 3. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

The game came out last year but the DLC zombie maps were mostly released this year. Each new map was better than the last, culminating in Revelations that was a loving send off for the series. There are no better co-op horror games out there.

2. Inside

The fact that this was the follow up game to the over rated Limbo put me off getting this for a while, when I finally did I was blown away. Very attractive, very addictive, and a master craft in 2D adventure platforming.

1. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

This one game is what validated VR to me as a genuine way to play games. Never have I felt so immersed in something, it may just be an on-rails shooter but the effect of actually being there is one that I had never experienced before.

So there you have it, a few of the top things I have had the pleasure to experience this year in horror. Feel free to include your top 5 lists in the comments below if you so wish. May you all have a frightfully happy and horrific new year! Finally as a bonus, below is the most shameful act of the year...

Most Shameful Horror Moment 2016

1. Sister leaves the cinema in fear 

I went to the cinema earlier this year with my sister to see Blair Witch. Around ten minutes before the films end she decided it had got too scary and left the showing! This was actually the second week in a row she had left the film we were watching early, the previous week she had walked out halfway through Sausage Party. Maybe that too was too scary?

Friday, 30 December 2016

Horror News Round-up December 2016: Part 2 - Salient Minus Ten and Wash Club

Some would say doing a second day of news on my blog was a cheap way to conveniently pad out the remaining days of 2016, there may be some truth in that. However! I did legitimately forget to scroll upwards in my email inbox yesterday and so I did truthfully forget to mention a few of the news I had been emailed about. So think what you will but know this; tomorrow shall be a original blog post chronicling some of my top horror things of the year.

There has been an updated teaser poster for award winning filmmaker Emma Dark's (Seize the Night) new Sci-fi/horror Salient Minus Ten. The lead actor in this short has been changed from Dean Sills to Alan Austen (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Phillip Bloom has joined the project as director of photography at the time of the recasting. The film has an interesting synopsis; 'Adam Harper is an average man. And on an average day he suddenly finds himself catapulted into the strangest, reality changing game...A game of time and chance, where the stakes are a matter of life and death'. This short is currently in post production with a trailer due to be released early 2017.

Now Wash Club is a short film being made that really has almost nothing to do with horror whatsoever, however I loved the crowd funding video released to promote it and so with an actual trailer released I felt I may as well put that on my site. Wash Club is about a journalist who accidentally becomes the leader of a shady club where-by it's members ride around in washing machines at dry cleaners! It's based on a true story by poet Ross Sutherland, director Simon Dymond heard it and felt he needed to create a film based on this hyper surreal tale. Check out the first proper trailer below as well as the awesome crowdfunder video.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Horror News Round-up December 2016 - Festivals, Releases, and Trailers

I have been busy lately watching films for the annual Fright Meter Awards as well as the many films I have been getting sent for review. As such news I have been sent has been neglected a bit so I thought I would put it all together into a large horror news post. I do plan to improve my late response to news requests as one of my many new years resolutions I will likely fail to keep!

As of 1st September submissions are now open for the Triple Six Film Festival which is to have it's debut at the AMC Cinema in Manchester next year. The event is going to run May 27th to May 28th and is going to run nine feature length horrors and nine short horror films over the two days. There will also be special guests, and an after festival party among other things. If you have a film you wish to submit then that can be done via FilmFreeway, while tickets to the event will go on sale April 1st and will be available to purchase from the festival's website. It has also been announced that Richard Stanley is to be a special guest there, a viewing of his movie Hardware (1990) will be shown followed by a Q&A with the director.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book (2015) - Zombie Book Review

I am hoping to get back to doing regular blog updates some day soon, at the moment my 'office' here at The Rotting Zombie HQ looks like Citizen Z's tech room did post nuclear blast! Today I am reviewing the awkwardly titled The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book which is of course based on the TV show rather than the games or the comic. The book features text by S.D Perry who I best know as the author who wrote quite a few Resident Evil novels which on the most part were not bad, especially the ones unrelated to the games.

When I was a youngster I loved pop-up books, there was a posh book shop in town where I would always head to as they had some pretty awesome horror themed ones there, so getting this book as a gift last Christmas I right away thought it was awesome. There are just ten pages to this book but so much detail has been crammed in, each double page has one huge pop-up and usually a load of smaller hidden ones. There are levers to pull, and extra inserts to unfold. I only discovered some of these inserts after a few reads of the book, then when I got it out to look at again so I could review it today I discovered an additional insert hidden within an insert!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Z Nation: Season 3 (2016) - Zombie TV Show Review

Z Nation is a show that started off very badly. The characters were unlikeable, the plot boring and I found the washed out look to be quite off putting. However by the end of season 1 I had fallen in love with the complete absurdity that goes on. Season 2 ended up being even better with the show seeming intent on cramming as much silliness as possible. With a giant cliffhanger at the season's finale I had eagerly awaited the new season. Spoilers for previous seasons are bound to occur.

Having discovered that the whole mission he had been on for two seasons was all for nothing the human zombie hybrid Murphy (Keith Allen) goes rogue heading off to form a new civilisation of 'blends'. He takes 10K with him who is powerless to resist Murphy's mind control powers now that he has also been made a blend. Meanwhile Warren and her ragtag group have met up with a Chinese scientist and together they devise a plan to capture Murphy so that a cure for humanity against the zombie threat can finally be made...

Monday, 19 December 2016

The House on Pine Street (2015) - Horror Film Review

The House on Pine Street is a haunted house film directed by the Keeling brothers who also co-wrote this with Natalie Jones. I at first expected a typical ghost film and thought I knew what would happen but this actually tries to do something a little different.

Heavily pregnant Jennifer (Emily Goss) has reluctantly moved back to her Kansas hometown from Chicago on the insistence of her husband Luke (Taylor Bottles) and her mum Meredith (Cathy Barnett). She moves into an old house and almost straight away she starts to experience strange phenomenon. Objects move on their own, strange footsteps are heard and shadowy figures glimpsed, but Jennifer is the only one who witnesses these happenings. Is the house really haunted or is it all in her troubled mind?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Corpse of Anna Fritz (2015) - Horror Film Review

The Corpse of Anna Fritz (El Cadaver de Anna Fritz) is a Spanish horror that from the synopsis sounded a lot like 2008's Deadgirl, however this turned out to be something far more realistic and suspenseful.

Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas) is a world famous actress who is found dead in the bathroom of a party. Her corpse is taken to a morgue in a hospital in the city where orderly Pau (Albert Carbo) works. He decides to take some pictures on his phone of her to send his friends Javi (Bernat Saumell) and Ivan (Cristian Valencia) which results in them visiting him to see her for themselves. Ivan and Pau decide to take advantage of the famous corpse and it is from this point that events take a turn for the worse...

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Nina Forever (2015) - Horror Film Review

I decided to give the horror movie streaming site Shudder a try, mainly due to the fact the Fright Meter Awards nominations are due in next Friday and I can't afford to buy films to watch. So I gave Nina Forever a watch; a British film that bizarrely is only available to watch on the American version of the site.

Holly (Abigail Hardingham) is drawn to troubled Rob (Cian Barry) due to him being in mourning for his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) having died in a car accident. The two start seeing each other and all is going great until the first time they have intercourse. Somehow this causes Nina to physically manifest (bloody and covered in her crash wounds) and she is determined that her and Rob are still together. Understandably this freaks Holly out yet she weirdly decides she can deal with this happening whenever her and her new boyfriend get intimate.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Demon (2015) - Horror Film Review

Demon is a Polish horror that has a thick vein of black comedy in it. The title suggested to me something different than what is actually shown, instead this is a tale based on the Jewish legend of the dybbuk (a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person). This film was made more creepy for me after discovering the director and co-writer Marcin Wrona sadly committed suicide not long after the film came out.

English based Piotr (Itay Tiran) has travelled to Poland in order to marry Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska). The wedding reception is to be held at the home of her deceased grandparents whose property the newlyweds are going to live at. The night before the wedding Piotr discovers something alarming buried in the back garden of the house. The next day the wedding goes ahead as planned and the party gets into full swing, but as the day goes on Piotr starts to behave more and more erratically and Zaneta and her family start to worry something is seriously wrong with him...

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Ash Vs Evil Dead: Season 2 (2016) - Horror TV Show Review

The first season of Ash vs Evil Dead turned out to be so much better than I had ever hoped. It was full of both ultra gory violence as well as being extremely funny. This was both down to a great script and of course Bruce Campbell's Ash. My only complaints were about the short length of the ten episodes, and the resolution to the season and so I hoped for the second season these concerns would be addressed. Spoilers for season one will follow.

This picks up roughly a year after the events of the first season with Ash, Pablo (Ray Santiago), and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) partying hard in Jacksonville as per the agreement with the immortal Ruby (Lucy Lawless) who in exchange got to be in charge of the Necronomicon. However the monstrous children she had created have betrayed her and are trying to steal the book to summon from Hell Baal (Joel Tobeck); a powerful and evil demon. In desperation Ruby contacts Ash and together they form an uneasy alliance to defeat the children and protect the book...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

BoXeD (2016) - Horror Film Review

BoXeD is written, edited, produced and directed by Daniel A. Finney and it is an art house film. I used to watch this TV program when I was younger, I believe it was called Headf*ck or something like that and this film brought memories of that show back to me as it featured plenty of similar style videos of which this would have fitted right in.

Due to the unique way BoXeD is shown I am not totally clear on the actual plot so this summery may be wrong. Jane Hamlet stars as Rachel whose sister has gone missing, though meanwhile her ex boyfriend Richie Prendergast (Charles O'Neill) is putting pressure on her to display his artwork at her gallery. Flashbacks to a time when her sister was not missing sheds some light on what may have actually happened.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Party Night (2017) - Horror Film Review

I was quite excited to watch Party Night, this is because it is Troy Escamilla's first ever film he has both written and directed. Now I kind of know Troy (on the internet at least) as he is the founder of the Fright Meter Awards that I am a member of. Due to that and the fact I contributed towards the film's Kickstarter campaign I wont be giving it a rating as I don't want to be seen to be biased.

It is prom night and six high school friends decide to ditch their after prom party and instead head to Nelson's (Drew Shotwell) uncles house to have their own private party (as the uncle is away on business). It soon is found out to be a terrible idea as the place is the base of a local serial killer who doesn't take kindly to intruders...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Ava's Possessions (2015) - Horror Film Review

Out of all the many, many films about demonic possession there has never really been one that dealt with the aftermath in any detail before. Ava's Possessions takes a stab at that idea in a comedy horror mystery format. It was written and directed by Jordan Galland (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead).

The film starts with Ava (Lousia Krause) only recently having been exorcised of the demon that possessed her for twenty eight days. She is made to go to a help group for victims of possession and part of her recovery is to find out just what happened whilst she was out of control. This leads to the uncovering of a dark secret that even her close friends and family refused to tell her...

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Devil Lives Here (2015) - Horror Film Review

The Devil Lives Here (also known as O Diabo Mora Aqui and The Fostering) is a Brazilian horror film that despite the title is not about demonic forces, but is a film dealing with themes of the occult. With all the horror films I have been watching recently it was actually refreshing to see one that made no attempt to add in comedic elements, this is straight horror all the way through.

Ale, her boyfriend Luciano, and his cousin Magu have travelled to the remote home of their friend Apolo (Pedro Carvalho) for a weekend of partying, or so they think. However the house Apolo lives in is one that had a troubled history. It used to be the dwelling place of a cruel slave owner, his methods eventually got to be so much that his slaves rose up and murdered him, not only that but they also placed a curse on his spirit so he can never find rest. The anniversary of his death is usually marked by a rite performed by the ancestors of the slaves, a night that by agreement the property is left empty, however this year Apolo plans to interfere which turns out not to be the best idea...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Inside (2016) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

I had heard nothing but good things about Inside, I was intrigued to play it, yet coming from Playdead who made Limbo I had my misgivings. While that game was stylishly great I never thought it deserved the amount of praise heaped on it at the time. It was an enjoyable game but very short with little replay value. Inside is a sequel to that game, not in terms of plot but more in terms of the look and the mechanics.

You play as an unnamed young boy, via events happening around you it seems you are on the run from some shady organisation. As you flee you encounter various facets of this nightmarish futuristic world such as frenzied dogs, robotic killing machines, walking husks, and lethal experiments.