Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Persona 5 (2017) - Adventure Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

For reasons that baffle me to this very day (and which haunt my nights) I decided to review Persona 4 after only 24 hours playtime back in 2010. I think I must have assumed I was near the end, however it was actually 91 hours long. I would like to think I'm more professional nowadays and so for this review of Persona 5 I have actually completed it first! It took me a whole year to finish this RPG, clocking in with a game time of 97 hours.

Persona 5 starts with your school age character (knick named Joker) being arrested whilst in the middle of a daring casino robbery as part of a group known as the Phantom Thieves. He is taken away to an interrogation room where he is asked to recount his version of events leading up to his capture. A large chunk of the game is a playable recollection of events. Joker arrives in Tokyo to stay with a coffee shop owner Sojiro, due to being on probation after having been charged with assault. Him and his new friends through a series of events unlock 'personas' which are manifestations of their inner psyche. They also gain the ability to enter 'palaces' which are in a supernatural realm and which are twisted versions of the palace owners mindset. Basically kind of like Inception; by going into a mind palace and stealing the treasure located there they are able to 'steal the heart' of their target which results in them developing a conscience and admitting their crimes in the real world. However the more they change people to better help society the more they find their actions become investigated by the police and government and soon find themselves with danger of arrest...

I loved Persona 4, and I love Persona 5 but I don't think story wise it is as much of a draw. Early on we are introduced to the antagonist and so there is none of the mystery and surprise that came with Persona 4's hunting a serial killer storyline. Instead over the course of a year you go after different targets, starting with a teacher who abused his position to sexually harass students, you end up going after business leaders and politicians. As you do so your fame increases with public opinion constantly spurring you on to further actions.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Start a War (2018) by Entropy Zero - Album Review

Start a War is the 10 track debut album for composer Maks SF under his Entropy Zero name. Previously he was written music for video games and commercials, he describes the music of Entropy Zero as 'sounds of war blended with heavy industrial and electronic music'. If I had to sum up the sound of this album it would be that it sounds like a collection of boss battle video game music. I always have to preface by saying I don't consider myself well versed in music, so everything I put here is from my own personal viewpoint and not based on knowledge of the subject.

First track Eliminate is a statement of intent for the album and does sound remarkably like boss battle music you would find in a game. This is the style that permeates the whole of Start a War with the majority of the tracks all sounding kind of similar but with different flourishes to them to set them apart. Second track War Machine features trailer composer Cliff Lin (Nuclear Winter), while third track Dancing Body of the Dead has elements of dub-step to it that sounded like it would be right at home in DmC: Devil May Cry. This track was an early favourite. Constant Domination, Reloading, Fire in the Hole, and Decimation all are high energy, and good in their own right, but variations on a theme, Party With The Devil stood out with its Mortiis type heavy industrial drumming. Penultimate track Unstoppable injected some drum and bass into the sound which went perfectly with the fast pace. Finally it is up to Crimson Sunrise to close things out. This is a much slower track than the rest with a nice Nine Inch Nails feel to it. It is also the very best track on the album, it was a strong epic finish to Start a War.

There isn't a single track on this album that doesn't sound like it would be an odd fit for any type of battle music, personally I felt that there were a few in the middle that all sort of melded into one in my head. There were some stand out tracks though with Crimson Sunrise being the most interesting one. It is the problem I always have with instrumental soundtrack albums in that the tracks are too short for my liking, just as it gets going the track usually ends, with an average length of around two minutes per track and an overall play time of 22 minutes I was always left wanting more, in general though I do like to get lost in tracks, especially when there is a music beat that I really enjoy. Entropy Zero's Start a War was released 9th February, it can be brought or streamed from a variety of locations, check here for details, is worth a listen.


Monday, 26 February 2018

Castlevania (2017) - Horror TV Show Review

Castlevania is one of my most favourite video game series of all time, and also one of my favourite game styles of all time (Metroidvania, which is one huge level that opens up as you gain new abilities). Hearing there was a Netflix series out based on the games, specifically Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse I was interested to see how it turns out. Thankfully this four part cartoon is not only beautifully made, but also captures the violence and horror of the games.

Dracula (Graham McTavish - The Hobbit trilogy) falls in love with a human female named Lisa and they end up getting married. However the church mistake Lisa's medical skills as witchcraft and she is burned at the stake. A distraught Dracula in anger summons an army of demons from Hell with the aim of wiping out all humanity. Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage - also The Hobbit trilogy); a vampire hunter gets caught up in this unfolding chaos while visiting a besieged town, together with a magic user named Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) they attempt to protect the town from the evil hordes...

This first season of Castlevania is frustratingly only four 20 minute episodes long, which was apparently due to Netflix not having too much faith in the show. Well due to the great response the second season has already been approved and is going to have more episodes. The animation for this show is of a high quality, as is the voice acting, though it did feel weird that everyone in this fictional land has English accents when you assume they would be in the Romanian region. I was pleased to see this was handled maturely and seriously without the need to inject humour into the bleak goings on. It doesn't shy away from scenes of violence with even the first episode showing what appeared to be a child torn in half. Throughout the show we get lots of blood and violence, even if there isn't an over abundance of fan service. Favourite moment of violence for me was someone getting their eye whipped out in episode 2! This mature tone sometimes felt a bit overblown, everyone is so serious and talking in an adult way that it felt like they were trying too hard for what is essentially a cartoon.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Haunted Tours: Episode 2 'I Killed Them' - Paranormal Reality TV Show News and Episode Review

In June of last year I first mentioned the paranormal investigation reality TV show Haunted Tours. I have seen quite a few of these shows in the past and usually not a lot happens in them, they are overproduced with tacky recreations and hyperbole. This one promised to be more extreme, but also more real in what it portrays.

The preview episode I watched was the second one in the series and had the group of Stephen Erkintalo (the investigator), Victoria Catherine (the host), Brian and Jake Jalbert (the cameramen), and producers heading to Ashley's Restaurant which is said to be haunted by two different spirits. One of the spirits was meant to be that of a frequent visitor to whatever it used to be in the 1800's who ended up brutally murdered, while another is that of a child who was killed by a train on the nearby railway tracks.

Over the course of the 45 minute episode Erkintalo does his best to get in contact with the spirits using any means necessary short of outright being aggressive to any nearby ghosts. His tools include a Ouija board that allegedly has human ashes and blood smeared on it, a spirit recorder, and using a mirror to try and bring forth spirits into the real world. He seems to be the wild card of the group in the disruptive energy he brings. He comes across as a risk taker designed to antagonise the other crew members with his actions, such as when he tells any spirits present they are welcome to harm the group, or when he decides to lay down on an in-use railway track in an attempt to cajole spirits into interacting with him.

The group dynamic isn't one of firm friends, instead you get the feeling of a unified goal but with different personalities rubbing against each other leading to a feeling of simmering, yet very mild tension. This felt more real due to the swearing the cast do, as well as the avoidance of those cheesy recreations I mentioned earlier. Yet being bare bones (though focusing on the entertaining stuff) not a lot really happens aside from people saying they feel a presence, or the spirit recorder occasionally making noises that could be inferred to be relevant to the case the group are studying. Sill this is all par for the course for these type of shows and I liked how the group keep referring to a previous episode which gives a good sense of flow and cohesion, whilst at the same time indicating that viewers can expect things to get more intense as the show progresses.

Haunted Tours may be going into a crowded market but it has enough to it that it fits in well, and it was nicely edited. Occasionally (at least in this episode) it felt like not enough was going on to maintain interest, but that was only on a couple of occasions. I liked the group dynamic of sceptics and believers as it gave a more balanced look at things, especially with some of the comments made about things they are doing. Haunted Tours is out on Amazon and has had some good reviews, you should check it out if you get the chance.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Shape of Water (2017) - Fantasy Film Review

When I first heard about The Shape of Water on a podcast it didn't really appeal to me. From what I gathered it was like a re-telling of the Creature from the Black Lagoon though set in the modern day. It isn't either of those things, though I can see what they meant by the former comparison. I was tired after a long day and not really in the mood for the cinema but I made an effort to go anyway for this blog, but I don't know why, but lately I am not that keen on soppy films. Regardless of my thoughts on the meat of this film, this is a film that is full of fantastic editing and performances, it was an early pleasure to realise this was directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone).

Set during the 1960's this tells the story of a mute cleaning lady; Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who works at a top secret research facility. She discovers that a fish like creature (Doug Jones - Pan's Labyrinth, Ouija: Origin of Evil) is being held captive there and ends up befriending it. Realising its life may be in danger she hatches a plan to free it...

While there are horror elements to this it is very much more of a fairytale. Many of del Toro's films are like that, but this is more light than most his work with this feeling very twee and innocent, rather than dark and gloomy. This goes full on with the fairytale element with it even opening and closing with a narrator. This becomes a twisted love story and that aspect I found hardest to get on board with, especially when elements such as a song number appears that features a dreaming Elisa dancing on a stage with the merman creature, and some awkward sex scenes with the monster. It makes use of the 60's setting to portray the ugliness and double standards of the rampant racism and homophobia in that era, it was good that was highlighted rather than ignored, and in fact has parallels with how the creature itself is treated by those around it.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Mist (2017) - Horror TV Show Review

What is wrong with the world when a stunning and beautiful show such as The Mist gets cancelled after just one season? I have just finished watching this ten part season over a three day period and was shocked to discover the story will likely never be finished now. This is based on the Stephen King short story of the same name, my usual disclaimer that I don't rate his work, yet once again a fantastic piece of media has been born from his words.

One day a thick mist rolls into a small American town in Maine, the inhabitants soon discover that madness and death comes to those who spend too long in the mysterious substance. Survivors have barricaded themselves in the mall, these include Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland) and her daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Alex's dad Kevin (Morgan Spector) meanwhile is at the local police station when things go south. He joins up with a drug addict named Mia (Danica Curcic), an amnesiac soldier called Bryan (Okezie Morro), and Alex's best friend Adrian (Russell Posner) in order to find a way through the deadly mist and to his family...

To be honest I was hooked from the very beginning, the awesome prologue when Bryan wakes up in the mountains with no memory and in close proximity to the mist. This is a show that revels in being bleak, yet also with a justice that comes to those most deserving of punishment (and some that certainly do not). The core family of characters are in strife from the offset. Shortly before the fantastical horror begins Alex gets drugged and raped at a party, while Eve and Kevin have been having marital problems long before that awful event happened. I was a bit curious to see how a journey across a small town could last ten 45 minute episodes without feeling dragged out, yet there seemed to be no filler, everything that happens felt relevant even when characters are experiencing self contained stories within single episodes.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Alienation (2016) - Sci-fi Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Alienation is an isometric twin stick shooter that felt very similar to Dead Nation, but with aliens instead of zombies. This may not be too surprising seeing as how both were made by the same developer: Housemarque.

This takes place in a world where aliens have secretly invaded and taken nearly complete control of the planet over several decades. The surviving army developed some special armour that was designed to make the wearer into a super soldier capable of surviving against the alien threat. With this new ability a group of four soldiers are tasked with exploring various locations around the globe in order to find a way for humanity to survive.

Where Dead Nation featured linear levels here instead you get huge open areas that are used for multiple missions. There are around six levels over the campaign, these include a Mexican naval base, a small American town, an Antarctic research base, as well as an alien ship. The levels are designed to look realistic with many of the locations featuring cars, buildings, trees and other such environmental detail that helps bring Alienation to life.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Night of the Demon (1957) - Horror Film Review

Until around a month ago I had never heard of Night of the Demon, however a chance conversation with a lady at my day job had her reveal to me it was the scariest film she had ever seen. I was intrigued and so come pay day I brought it on DVD. This film is known as Curse of the Demon in America and was edited down by 20 minutes to fit on a double bill.

Psychiatrist Professor Harrington was due to attend a paranormal psychology symposium where he aimed to expose Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) as the leader of a devil worshipping cult. However before he was able to he died in mysterious circumstances, before he died he had spoken of having a curse placed on him by Karswell giving him a runic note. His colleague; John Holden (Dana Andrews) arrives in England determined to expose Karswell in Harringtons place, however he too is soon cursed, he is told he will die in exactly three days time. Holden is a huge skeptic and pays no heed to the warning, however the more strange things happen the more he begins to suspect that maybe something unnatural really might be happening...

Watching this in modern times you have to keep in mind how this would have appeared back in the day. This feels from its time with plenty of scenes of characters talking amongst themselves with action and horror kept to a minimum. I found this to be quite entertaining as I really did have no idea what was going to happen, though like Holden I too believed it would turn out to be a hoax and so found it hard to invest too deeply into the horror aspect. I haven't seen many films from around this time period but both House on Haunted Hill and The Haunting turned out to be less supernatural than at first it seems so my judgement was clouded.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Little Nightmares: The Hideaway (2017) - Horror Video Game DLC Review (Playstation 4)

The Hideaway is the second of three planned DLC levels for horror platformer Little Nightmares. I've realised my problem with the DLC packs so far is that I merely thought the main game was good, but I never loved it, I didn't care much about the story it was telling and I found the platform and puzzle parts to be an exercise in frustration. The first DLC titled The Depths I found to also be quite frustrating due to the amount of cheap deaths encountered. This time around it is much harder to die but the frustration was still there. Minor spoiler for DLC 1 to follow...

Having been captured by the janitor at the end of the first DLC this one begins with you quickly escaping and finding yourself on the janitors home turf of the boiler room. It also happens to be the home of the gnomes; neutral creatures that are scared of you. Earning their trust is the key to escaping this place and continuing your quest to escape The Maw (a giant floating fortress).

The Depths further explored the puzzles and situations involving water, this one is based around utilising nomes to assist you in pushing items and pulling switches. The main mission here is to gather together enough of the creatures to power up the main boiler which is your key to escaping. To do this you have to explore many many dingy rooms to locate enough nomes to help you. The puzzles don't get much more complex than throwing the little guys around, I only got stumped at one point and that was due to them frequently getting stuck behind objects.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) - Horror Film Review

I am pretty sure my best friend thinks Cloverfield is one of the worst horror films ever made, personally though I loved it. Then there was 10 Cloverfield Lane which again was quite fantastic despite that bananas ending. So the announcement of The Cloverfield Paradox being out on Netflix filled me with a special type of excitement I rarely feel nowadays. I know people have said this is a bit of a muddle, and I know that originally it wasn't even meant to be part of the Cloverfield series but regardless of all that this is a damn good film that provides a lot more connecting tissue than Lane ever did.

The film takes place in the not too distant future, a future in which energy sources on Earth are rapidly running out. A space station (The Cloverfield) was built in order to test a Shepard particle accelerator which if successful could provide unlimited energy to the planet. This station is manned by a multinational crew whose many attempts to get the accelerator working over the years always results in failure. On one of their final attempts it initially seems to work, however once the systems have cooled down the crew discover the Earth has vanished. Their experiment has caused a paradox, one in which they seem to have entered an alternate dimension, and one in which something very wrong has occured back on planetside...

On top of liking the Cloverfield series anyway I have a huge love for space based films, especially where horror is concerned. I also love things like time travel/alternate realities and so this film felt like it was designed to appeal to me. In lots of ways this reminded me of last years Life, though here there is no alien creature running rampant, instead the horror comes from the mystery of what is going on and the way in which each of the crew meet their untimely demise. There was a feeling of Final Destination in the way that the ship seems to be going against the crew with death by drowning, explosion, and the movement of matter all leading to some memorable scenes. Talking of Life this ends on quite a similar note, not as effective but still a great way to end things.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Evil Within (2015) - Horror Graphic Novel Review

The Evil Within graphic novel is made up of the four issues of the comic run that was released as a prologue to the game of the same name. For some reason I thought this was going to be an actual novel, but a graphic novel is fine by me also. In the past comic book adaptations of video games never works out too well. I would say the closest comparison for this is the Silent Hill series of graphic novels. While they look awesome and are enjoyable I always found the schizophrenic art style and the way the stories were set out just led to a sense of frustration. With The Evil Within we get a self contained story that is well set out and which looks great.

Dana Robinson was on a long car journey when her vehicle breaks down in the middle of a rainy night. She heads to a diner to get assistance but instead finds a bunch of zombie like humans who give chase. She teams up with a guy she meets and later they meet up with a couple of others. For whatever reason they realise they are in some sort of a nightmare world full of monsters and traps that are out to kill them. They are all guilty of perceived crimes and it seems this world is intent on punishing them for their past mistakes...

The Evil Within straddles a fine line between fan service and telling a cohesive story. This fan service comes mainly from the boss monsters that appear, all the bosses from the game make an appearance at one point or another with each issue of the comic introducing another iconic monster to hound the survivors. It is hard to be too annoyed at this recycling due to several factors. The first being that the shared dream world contains the memories of all who have inhabited it, so much like the game itself it makes sense that the stronger memories would manifest. Secondly The Evil Within 2 also saw fit to repurpose these foes, and they are iconic so I liked their inclusion however lazy it may seem.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for February 2018

Another news round-up, this time for everything received since last months one. First up horror legend Dee Wallace (Critters, Red Christmas) has joined the cast of DEAD Afterlife. The cast for this already included Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th series), and Bill Oberst Jr (Coyote, DIS). It sounded exciting already just reading this list of iconic names. The film itself has been described as 'Night of the Living Dead meets Heaven Can Wait', and has an interesting story. Donald has been murdered and has became a ghost. At his funeral he is shocked to see his corpse come to life and start eating his friends and family. Now he has limited time to stop his zombie body or his soul won't be able to get to Heaven.

A new poster has been released for The Owlman: Chapter 2 (also known as The Black Gloves) which obviously now implicitly states this is a continuation of the Owlman saga (after Lord of Tears). The film that is a prequel set in the 1940's is due for a Spring 2018 release and can be preordered here.

Eric Red (Body Parts, Bad Moon) has teamed up with the Horror Equity Fund for his new horror movie White Knuckle. This film tells a story about a woman who survives a serial killer attack and decides to stop him from ever hurting anyone else.

A teaser trailer for upcoming horror Five Wild Animals has been released. Written and directed by Blair Hoyle (Happy Endings Are A Rarity) this is about a group of friends who travel to a small mountain town for a Halloween party, but instead find themselves the victims of an ancient ritual.

The guest judges for the 2018 Fractured Visions Film Festival are now known. These include Chris Crow, Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn), Giles Edwards, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Emma Dark (Seize the Night), Diego Lopez, Richard Elliott, James Blower, Richard Geddes and Jay Kay.

Flesh of the Void is due to release on DVD - here (and a very limited VHS run - here). Pre sales started February 10th with normal sales from March 9th. The film is described as a 'grotesque and depraved depiction of what the act of dying could feel like. This was shot on Super 8 and 16mm and has caused some controversy. Apparently director James Quinn has been accused of devil worship among other things, and Sodom & Chimera Productions official website apparently got hacked four times by a radical Christian group in protest of this movie!

There is an Indie-GoGo campaign running at the moment to raise funds to make Scottish post-apocalyptic thriller Ribbons. This is to sar Shauna Macdonald (The Descent, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and tells the story of 5 houseguests locked in a basement during the onset of nuclear apocalypse. This is to be made on a micro budget with the filming to take place over just 4 days. They are looking to raise £5,000, currently £1,951 has been raised with 6 days left. if you want to contribute then head to their page here.

Video game news now with Snail Games announcing that VR multiplayer game ARK Park (based on survival game ARK: Survival Evolved) is going to be released on March 22nd. This sounds similar in idea to Jurassic Park and has you exploring a functioning dinosaur theme park. As well as exploration mode there is also a story mode in which you must defend your base from rampaging dinosaurs. This is due for release on Steam VR/HTC Vive, PSVR, and Oculus Rift, check out the trailer below.

Finally onto music news. Ludovico Technique have a new video for their single Absence, this was released on my birthday (13th February). That's all the news for this month, all light on details but I do what I can.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Blood Bride (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Blood Bride is a short 14 minute horror film that has been released to coincide with Women in Horror month which is this February of course. This was directed by Michelle Romano and written by Corey Tourigny who both also feature in the short. It was produced for the Annual Massive Blood Drive PSA as one of a collection of shorts curated by the Soska Sisters. So this functions both as a fun little horror, as well as bringing attention to the importance of donating blood.

Grant (Tourigny) is an anxious husband whose wife (Romano) is in hospital close to death. Dr. Baron (Robert Catrini) suggests to him the chance of a cure, but for this cure they are going to require lots of Grant's blood...

This short is split into two different feeling parts. I loved the drama of the first part, the whole talk with Dr. Baron is done in silence with no music playing. I felt Catrini was the best thing about Blood Bride, he drew attention in every scene he appeared in and had one of the best lines said with malice. The second part becomes quite surreal as many inappropriately dressed nurses tease and toy with Grant before performing their sinister transfusion. This part didn't really make too much sense, though this is excused later on when context to this section is provided.

I enjoyed the general flow of this and how easily it slips into surrealness, the blood effects look good enough, while the acting I had no problem with for the main characters. Despite the simplistic story I enjoyed watching this, though for me Grant was a bit of a blank slate, possibly due to him being dizzy from blood loss or something, but his character doesn't really do much.

Blood Bride is due for release on February 19th 2018 at midnight on the Soska Sisters official YouTube channel, and ChicArt Public Relations are hosting a wrap party on Thursday February 22nd at 7pm at LONO Hollywood which is open to the public.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Prey (2017) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Last years Prey is not to be confused with the 2006 game of the same name, despite being part of the brand this is wholly unrelated to that game apart from the sci-fi setting. This feels and plays very much like Bioshock, so much so in fact that this feels like a remake, but set aboard a space station rather than under the sea. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery though and this is a good re-make of that type of game so there was fun to be had. I played the demo of this last year and I found it to be a bit intimidating, the early twist that your trapped in a reoccuring loop to begin with was shown there and so I don't see mentioning that as much of a spoiler.

Prey takes place in 2030 on board the Talos 1, which is a huge scientific research space station orbiting the moon. You play as Morgan; a high up scientist who starts the game trapped in a Groundhog Day style test simulation in which her (or his) memory is wiped at the end of every day, and made to repeatedly replay the same events. You are rescued by an A.I construct named January who informs you that Talos 1 has been overrun by parasitic alien life forms known as the Typhon, that escaped their confinement in which they had been kept to experiment on, and rapidly killed the majority of the space station crew. Prior to Morgan losing her memory she had programmed January with a list of commands designed to help bring about the destruction of Talos 1 in the event of an outbreak, however Morgan's brother Alex is determined to stop this from happening and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to ensure she fails...

This shares a tremendous amount of similarities with the Bioshock series. I realise System Shock came before Bioshock and like this too was set in space, but having never played it my comparisons will be with the underwater game. Instead of Splicers you have the Typhon, instead of plasmids you have neuromods, transcribes instead of audio diaries, scan enemies for weaknesses much like you did with the camera, you read notes and environmental details to learn about the doomed world and how it got to that state, heck you even start the game armed with a wrench just like that game! I love how similar this feels though, it was cool to get to play another game that has such a solid sense of being a real place despite the fantastical elements.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Rise and Fall of An American Scumbag (2017) - Exploitation Film Review

The Rise and Fall of An American Scumbag is the fourth feature length film from director Dakota Bailey (The Acid Sorcerer) who once again also wrote and acts in this. This is a sequel of sorts to 2016's American Scumbag as it features many of the same degenerate characters. As always this a world of crime, drugs and poverty inhabited by the lowest of the low. Also as is his style this is made up of a series of interconnected stories.

Sociopath Billy (Darien Fox) hatches a plan to kill his father for his life insurance policy, so that he and his girlfriend can leave town. Elsewhere drug kingpin Pat (Alaskan Cinder) has tasked drug addict hitman Johnny with solving a few problems she has been having with business. Then you have the homeless Vietnam veteran Wheeling Deals (L.B) who is looking to clean up the streets the only way he knows how.

If you have seen any of Bailey's previous work then there won't be anything too surprising to discover here. For me it is always fun to see how his movies have improved over the years. While I didn't enjoy this as much as The Acid Sorcerer, in comparison to American Scumbag this feels more concentrated and less meandering. The best new addition to be found here are character monologues that play out over scenes. This helps to show the workings behind the nasty characters and adds more than scenes of dialogue ever could. While there are a few different stories going on it felt like Billy was the linchpin for this entry as he got a lot of screen time, and it could be said that the title specifically talks about him. There felt more of a plot this time around, it is simple for sure but for once this actually had a finale that felt like a traditional finale should, ramping up of events leading to a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Knuckle Balled (2017) by Drew Stepek - Horror eBook Review

I was very impressed with Knuckle Supper; the first book in the Knuckle series when I read it towards the end of last year. The whole slimy, degenerate world was so well realised and concise in the way it was described. Add to that an anti hero who was equal parts awesome and flawed, a slew of unique characters, and some out-there plot twists and you had a book that was a riot to read. Knuckle Balled is the sequel to that, and interestingly becomes a sequel specifically to Supper's epilogue rather than following the loose plot threads hanging from the main story of that first novel. Spoilers for Supper are unavoidable here.

Having murdered Bait's parents at the end of Supper, vampires RJ Reynolds and Eldritch are on the run from the law, mainly due to them having kidnapped Bait's younger sister Paulina as they didn't want to leave her on her own. The trio have arrived in Austin where Eldritch has a plan to hand the young girl over to film star Stephen Rodderick (who also happens to be a vampire) so that he can look after her. However the town, like L.A is full of vampire gangs, and these ones seem intent on killing the two before they get a chance to meet Rodderick.

This time around the scope of the story is far more restrained, it felt like a side story at many points due to not following on with R.J and his desire to get revenge on both Dez and The Habit. The new setting worked well in that like R.J the reader is experiencing the craziness for the first time. It was good to see that he is still a drug addict with Balled at it's very best when he is messed up and getting stuck in surreal situations, such as a huge fight against a possum, and a pack of dogs. A lot of his character development revolves around him having to decide to do the right thing rather than look out for himself as he normally does. Despite his increasing morals it was cool to see him still get into a multitude of ridiculously violent altercations with various gangs. Like in Supper the gangs are all themed, though even more so here with a feeling of The Warriors creeping in, featuring gangs such as ones dressed like old timey silent comics, an all female gang of roller skating vampires, and a degenerate group addicted to a Krokodil style drug that eats away their flesh and makes them resemble zombies.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Campus (2018) - Horror Film Review

It's funny how coincidental things in life can be, the last film I watched: Inoperable was about a woman trapped in a time loop, and now with director and writer J.Horton's The Campus we have a movie in which a woman finds herself also trapped in a time loop. I will repeat what I said then in that I really enjoy films with this type of concept. With this one we have something that feels like an eighties trash flick but which has burst into existence in modern day. This is both a blessing and a curse, a blessing in terms of the sheer inventiveness and huge amount of blood and gore, a curse in that we have under developed characters, not least with the main lead Morgan (Rachel Amanda Bryant).

After her estranged father dies, his eldest daughter Morgan decides to break into the campus where he worked and steal the artifacts he owned. However after accidentally dripping blood onto an ancient wand (that the prologue showed the father discovering in a Mayan tomb) she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish time loop. She has five chances to find a way to stop the terror that has unfolded, but each time she fails she comes one step closer to the Devil taking her soul...

I enjoyed the places this went, at times The Campus feels like an anthology in the way that each 'life' Morgan gets comes with it a whole new host of obstacles and genre specific trials to face. She finds herself at the mercy of masked psychos, ghosts, zombies, demons, even getting attacked by a mannequin and a reanimated taxidermy animal at one point. These different repetitions of the same half hour or so always brought with them something different. One loop has her in a backwards world, another has her in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (obviously my personal favourite part), another has her slowly mutating. For me the plot wasn't strong enough to keep me engaged, but what did keep me engaged was waiting to see what would come next. The way she kept on getting killed of course reminded me of another time loop horror; Happy Death Day.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Fright Meter Awards 2017 - The Winners

So it is that time of year again when the Fright Meter Awards are revealed. I'm a member of the awards committee and so I had high hopes for my choices, but luck wasn't on my side this year. However it was a good year for horror and the majority of the winners while not ones I picked are still mostly great in their own right. Eligible films for the 2017 awards are ones that were released in the U.S.A between 1st December 2016 and 30th November 2017.

Best Costume Design:

The Lure

Now I haven't actually seen this film, unfortunately I just didn't have time from the finalists being revealed to final votes needing to be in. As such I can't complain about this winning, though my choice was It, mainly for the great clown costume Pennywise wears.

Runners Up:

A Cure for Wellness
Annabelle: Creation
Personal Shopper

Best Special Effects:

The Void

I wasn't in love with this film, but it was good for what it was, and I did think the special effects were pretty good. My choice for this winner was Life, this was on part to it only showing up in this one category (which I find criminal), but also I love space based films and the effects used to recreate that off planet feeling never fail to impress me.

Runners Up:

Alien Covenant
Annabelle Creation

Best Short Horror Film:

Death Metal

One of the rare categories my choice placed first in. A small group of committee members were tasked with watching the short film entries up for selection. Death Metal was a crazy and hilarious rampage that just delighted.

Runners Up:

Justice Served
The Thin Place

Best Cinematography: 

A Cure for Wellness

This was another one I chose for winner. While I didn't like the film much at all there was no denying it was beautifully shot with great framing throughout. I should state one of the runners up: It Comes At Night I didn't get a chance to watch, I bought it to view but it arrived too late for the cut-off.

Runners Up:

It Comes At Night
The Blackcoat's Daughter

Best Editing:


I didn't enjoy this film at all, I have been told that is the point, but I found it pretentious and made me uncomfortable for the wrong reasons. Get Out was my choice for this one, it approached art house in the way it was all set up, especially towards the end the editing gets just superb.

Runners Up:

Gerald's Game
Get Out

Best Score:

The Devil's Candy

I can't really complain about this winning, I chose The Blackcoat's Daughter but the soundtrack for this one fitted so well with what was going on in the movie.

Runners Up:

A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
The Blackcoat's Daughter

Best Make Up:

The Void

A second win for this one, I can't even recall what the make up was like in this one. While I found French horror Raw to be quite off putting I can't deny the make up effects on the various characters was fantastic, and so that got my vote.

Runners Up:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe
The Lure

Best Screenplay:

Get Out

Not my choice, but this is deserving nonetheless. I don't get the weird backlash going against the film currently everywhere, as it really was quite good. Gerald's Game was my choice for this one due in part to the great flashback sequences between a young girl and her dad.

Runners Up:

Gerald's Game
Personal Shopper

Best Supporting Actor:

Bill Skarsgard (It)

There was only ever really one choice for me this year, his turn as Pennywise was amazing, that's all there is to say.

Runners Up:

Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer)
Bradley Whitford (Get Out)
Jack Dylan Grazer (It)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (The Devil's Candy)

Best Supporting Actress:

Betty Buckley (Split)

My choice was also a Betty, but was Betty Gabriel from Get Out who gave a very memorable performance for such a small role.

Runners Up:

Allison Williams (Get Out)
Betty Gabriel (Get Out)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Mother!)
Sophia Lillis (It)

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

James McAvoy (Split)

This was one of the hardest categories for me as a lot of the nominees were great. It pained me not to choose Duplass but McAvoy was stunning.

Runners Up:

Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Ethan Embry (The Devil's Candy)
Mark Duplass (Creep 2)
Thomas Jane (1922)

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

Carla Gugino (Gerald's Game)

She had a challenging role and she did good at it but I am pained that Jennifer Fraser didn't get this one. She was in one of the very first new wave of found footage horrors that focus on the bad guy rather than the victims, and she was authentically insane.

Jennifer Fraser (Capture Kill Release)
Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!)
Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day)
Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper)

Best Director:

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

There were some strong contenders here as well so while I think Peele's win is deserved I had hoped for M. Night Shyamalan who finally made a film to rival his original and best.

Runners Up:

Andy Muschietti (It)
Darren Aronofsky (Mother!)
M. Night Shyamalan (Split)
Mike Flanagan (Gerald's Game)

Best Horror Movie:

Get Out

2017 was a great year for horror and so while I voted for It I am still well on board for Get Out getting the win.

Runners Up:

The Devil's Candy

Overall this was a good year for horror films and there was a nice enough mix in the categories. On a personal level Nocturne was the best horror I saw last year, it is so good. Also I felt that The Babysitter truly deserved to get at least a few nominations, it's on Netflix and well worth a watch.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Inoperable (2017) - Horror Film Review

Director and co-writer Christopher Lawrence Chapman's Inoperable falls into the type of horror film that I really enjoy; that of a character stuck in some sort of nightmarish time loop. While this isn't without its faults there is still enough good here to make for a film that not only makes you think but is an enjoyable ride too.

Amy (Danielle Harris - Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) is a young woman who wakes up in a seemingly evacuated hospital with no memory of how she got there. She soon discovers that she is trapped in a Groundhog Day style time loop as every time she passes out she finds herself back in her hospital bed. It's suggested the time loop is all due to a super hurricane that is approaching the area. She meets up with a sheriff named Ryan (Jeff Denton - ClownTown) and another woman: Jen (Katie Keene - ClownTown) and together they try to find a way to escape, while avoiding the clutches of the hostile hospital staff who are intent on stopping them...

Sometimes it is good not to be given all the answers and Inoperable is a good example. The mystery of just what is going on was firmly in the front of my mind throughout this. It was only a couple of months back we had Happy Death Day that had a similar concept of a trapped character repeating time but this is very different in feel. For one the budget is a lot less, the majority of the movie takes place in long empty hospital corridors. Another reason is that the main character isn't the only one trapped in a loop, there is a bit of a Cube 2: Hypercube vibe in that sometimes Amy will find versions of Ryan or Jen that have gone insane due to the amount of times they have repeated the same time period with Ryan saying at one point that they had been trapped there for four years. At other points she will find versions of the characters who have never met her before.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Wulverblade (2017-18) - Adventure Video Game Review (Playstation4)

When I first decided to review Wulverblade I felt like I was being a bit cheeky as it seemed at first glance to have nothing whatsoever to do with horror. However I have a real soft spot for scrolling beat-em-ups and so I found it too hard an opportunity to turn down. I fully intended to come up with some lame way to link it to the horror genre all the way up to the final level, when to my surprise an element of genuine horror does appear.

I like history so I was pleased to discover that as far as it is able Wulverblade aims to ride alongside actual events that took place. It takes place in Britannia (now Britain) around 120 A.D and has you as one of three members of the northern tribe of the Caledonii: Caradoc (all rounder), Brennus (strong but slow) or Guinevere (fast but weak) as you battle the invading Roman army, specifically the 9th Legion. Over eight levels you have to battle hostile tribes and Roman soldiers in order to try to repel the unstoppable forces from taking over your land.

The graphics for this are very charming, cartoon like and bright, yet that doesn't take away from the blood and violence. It isn't too long into fighting your first few foes when you realise that sometimes upon death enemies will leave behind limbs, or even their heads for you to pick up and use as a projectile. Enemies also drop an assortment of weapons that can also be flung at others, these include hammers, daggers and even javelins, obviously these all do more damage than body parts but nothing beats throwing heads! Crates and pots dotted around the levels also can contain throwables, as well as coins, rings, special weapons and notes. The notes are the most interesting thing here in terms of history weapons. Get to a specific part of a level, encounter a specific new enemy type, or collect a super weapon or note and you get to read either a brief little bit of history or myth revolving around Britannia. These were all fascinating to read, especially the ones that also contain photos of ruins visited for research while making Wulverblade. Getting a bit of behind the scenes info is not only interesting in its own right but shows that the team making this were committed to trying to be as accurate as possible.