Friday, 31 May 2019

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for May 2019

Another month and some changes to the way I do my blog. With my day job hours changing to four longer days rather than five normal length days it means I won't have time to do my blog in the evenings. Instead Monday is designated blog day, set aside to do a weeks worth of blog posts...that is the plan anyway.

Principal production has began on psychological thriller Paradise Cove and stars Mena Suvari (American Horror Story) and Todd Grinnell (Grace and Frankie). They play a contractor and his wife who have gone to Malibu to sell his dead mother's beach house. However they become terrorised by a crazy homeless woman (Kristin Bauer van Straten - True Blood) who lives underneath it. This is to be directed by Martin Guigui, with a script by Sherry Klein.

A special collectors edition Blu-ray has been released earlier this month for entertaining horror comedy Murder Made Easy, I said in my review for that "I came to this with expectations of a dull murder mystery and left having really enjoyed what I had witnessed". The Blu-ray from Scream Team Releasing was released on 21st May and features extras including audio commentaries, deleted scenes, rehearsal footage, bloopers, trailers, 5.1 surround sound and more.


Production is set to begin on the next installment of the found footage franchise Hell House LLC. Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire started production at the start of May and will premiere exclusively on Shudder later this year. Actors from both Hell House LLC and it's sequel Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel are set to return. Terror Films president Joe Dain has stated it will be taking inspiration from the first film, I think this is a good sign as the sequel was vastly inferior. In this final chapter (which takes place a year after the events of the second film) a billionaire buys the notorious hotel in order to host his popular interactive show 'Insomnia'.

Urban horror film Room 9 is now in post production. Inspired by the works of Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, The Twilight Zone) this is written and directed by Thomas Walton, and is about a bed and breakfast with a tragic past. It stars Kane Hodder (Friday 13th series), Michael Berryman (The Devil's Rejects) and Scout Taylor Compton (Rob Zombie's Halloween 1 & 2).

In The Blink of An Eye is an anthology of short horror stories all based on the excellent found footage Butterfly Kisses. The book goes deeper into the fictional urban legend of 'The Blink Man'. This legend states that if you stare into the Illchester tunnel for an hour without blinking at midnight a supernatural being known as 'Peeping Tom' will appear. The anthology is written by a multitude of different authors and has such stories as a PTSD suffering war veteran who starts to see a hypnotist, a student investigating her teacher's apparent suicide, and a holy man whose scarred eye is always open. Check out the Kickstarter here.

Coming soon to Android and iOS devices is Slasher - an app that is designed to be a social network for horror fans. its intentions are stated to be 'a space where such things like the human body being used in horror movies and art aren't a problem'.

There is an IndieGoGo campaign currently running to raise additional funds for horror film Kill Giggles. This feature length film is about a serial killer that targets clowns, the aim being to make a film where clowns are the victims rather than the aggressors. Check out the page here where there are the usual assortments of perks based on what you pledge.

On the subject of crowd funding The Curse of Valburga is approaching the end of its campaign which isn't doing so well. This slasher/comedy is about an old mansion with a dungeon full of degenerates. Their IndieGoGo page can be found here, again with an assortment of perks available.

The final news concerns Frolic Pictures which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with new Jared Masters reissue titles on double and triple feature DVDs. These include Premature Birth/Blood School/Madam Ans' House of Shame, The Magical Pyramid/Ballerina Massacre, The Pleasure Girl Gang/Kittens in Heat/Diary of a Teenage Call Girl, Lesha, My Secretary/Cannibals Vs. Virgins, and Hot Cats!/Zombie Punx.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Terror in the Skies (2019) - Horror Documentary Review

I don't often cover documentaries on my blog, but upon hearing of Terror in the Skies (directed by Seth Breedlove who also co-wrote this with Mark Matzke) I felt I needed to check it out. In general life I have a fondness for birds, and so a documentary that deals with giant bird sightings in America sounded interesting to me.

Over the 68 minute run time several different types of flying monsters are covered. The area covered here is Illinois, which is best known in terms of this subject matter with the famous Point Pleasant mothman sightings in the 1960's. I fully expected that to be again the focus here, but refreshingly it is only really mentioned in passing (this is a spiritual sequel to 2017's The Mothman of Point Pleasant). That topic has been done to death and so it was nice that it wasn't covered yet again here. Instead we get a multitude of accounts from over the years that go all the way up to the Chicago Mothman sightings of 2017, something that is teased at the start of this, then becoming the final story.

Of the different subjects looked at it was the thunderbirds that I found to be the most interesting, they are something I had heard of, yet not something I had really knew much about. I liked how it explores the origins of these tales, and goes back to the myths of Native Americans before getting into the actual evidence. The documentary uses talking heads for a lot of the discussion into this, from eyewitnesses, to paranormal experts and historians. I expected a one sided approach, and initially it seemed it was going for the side of believing everything, but later on there is at least one speaker who throws doubts on a lot of the testimonies. This is most apparent with the Chicago mothman sightings with it being said how strange it was that in such a populated city more people didn't see it. It also talks about how when something gets more popular more people are likely to come forward with crazier stories.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Rondo (2018) - Thriller Film Review

Rondo is a revenge thriller written and directed by Drew Barnhardt and which on paper didn't really sound like the most logical fit for this site. However it sounded interesting and so I requested a screener, something I am very glad I did as it turns out this more than earns its place here. I have been watching quite a few movies lately that pay homage to the exploitation films of the 70's. With Rondo you have a film which does just that, but which decides to pay tribute whilst keeping the trappings of modern day film making.

Troubled veteran Paul (Aaron Paul lookalike Luke Sorge) is an alcoholic, and homeless, living on his sister Jill's (Brenna Otts - Westworld) couch. She gives him the name of a therapist she has met (Gena Shaw) believing she will be able to help her brother pull his life back together. The therapist tells him that sex is the answer and gives him an address and a password 'Rondo'. It turns out this is for some sort of sex party for rich businessman Mr. Tim (Kevin Sean Ryan - Halloween: The Night He Came Back), and which is run by a man named Lurdell (Reggie De Morton). However while there Paul inadvertently discovers himself and the other participants are going to be murdered and so he flees, forgetting in the moment that he had previously given the killers his address...

Rondo plays with your expectations quite a bit in that the protagonist changes a couple of times throughout. Main characters become side characters, side characters become the stars, with usually a violent transition between the switches. It is also unique in how little any of the protagonists speak. Paul for instance is mostly silent, he only really gets a few lines of dialogue, with characters he interacts with happy to fill in the silence with their own thoughts. Jill is another character who really doesn't say a lot, yet her smouldering facial expression is plain to see. The antagonists speak a lot more, though even with them there is a character who again only has a few lines despite having some lengthy screen time. The silence is filled in with a fantastic soundtrack, it compliments the visuals in an impactful way. Rather than make this seem like a music video it instead creates a feeling of moving art with scenes seeming choreographed in interesting ways.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Zombie Vikings (2015) - Comedy Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)

Usually if I haven't played a game to completion then I won't review it, or at the very least I will just do a preview of it. For scrolling beat-em up Zombie Vikings though I have made an exception. This game was just a frustrating experience for me, and not for the reasons you may think. It boils down to the fact that I am almost certain this is straight up impossible to complete if you play it in single player, and again not for reasons you may think. It has been at least a year since I last played it so this review may be fuzzy around the edges, I just couldn't face trying it again when I knew the results would be the same.

Set in the time of the Norse Gods, Loki steals Odin's magical eye. In order to get it back Odin resurrects four legendary vikings as zombies, and tasks them with pursuing Loki across the lands to reclaim the stolen eye. Along the way they battle armies of worms, as well as discovers the origins of football...which is where for me my journey ended.

So all the good things first. I thought the humour here was genuinely funny, the dialogue is great with a Monty Python vibe going on that appealed a lot. The stages are interspersed with cut scenes, and the characters you play as all get their own back stories that reminded me a bit of Medievil. So you choose as one of four characters, my playthrough I was Caw-Kaa - a female who had bird based attacks to her repertoire. Each of the four characters seemed varied with their differing sizes leading to difference in how they played. This is backed up by some beautiful art, the graphics are charming and look hand drawn making the very varied levels a joy to fight through.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) - Horror Film Review

It is a rare day in The Rotting Zombie HQ in that I am totally on top of the films I have been sent for review (well, I was when I wrote this a few days back, now there are four sitting there). As such I have finally found time to watch a horror of my own choosing. I am quite late to the party but today I at last saw The Cabin in the Woods. This horror was directed by Drew Goddard (Bad Times at the El Royale), who also co-wrote this with Joss Whedon (the writer of Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Serenity to name just a few).

Five friends that include virgin Dana (Kristen Connolly - The Happening), stoner Marty (Fran Kranz - The Village), jock Curt (Chris Hemsworth - Thor), intellectual Holden (Jesse Williams), and slut Jules (Anna Hutchison) go for a weekend break at a remote cabin in some woods, where they accidentally summon a family of undead cannibal rednecks. However everything isn't as it first appears, the friends have had those horror film stereotypes assigned to them, and their whole ordeal is being monitored by a team of scientists who need the group to die in order to complete an ancient ritual.

Watching this so many years after release meant that I knew the whole twist of this typical horror movie not actually being so typical. If I remember rightly at the time the trailers hid this fact from the audience. The Cabin in the Woods opens with the scientists in their facility so it doesn't take much to piece together that things are different here. I like how they take what would be a very generic horror film and splice it up with the scientist part. It pokes fun at the tropes of the genre, most evident being the normal teens being brainwashed into fulfilling their chosen stereotypes. It even finally solves the puzzle for why the group in horrors always split up, again due to being mind controlled. It was cool to get involved in the lore of the world and see that every single horror film made could in fact have been set in the same world. There are references to everything from The Evil Dead, to Hellraiser, werewolf movies, and I.T. This behind the scenes look was where a lot of the humour rested, things such as the American branch of this science group taking wagers on which monster the friends will accidentally summon, as well as their competition with different countries own versions running concurrently was amusing. The main other one being shown is from Japan that sees a bunch of schoolgirls being attacked by a typical Japanese ghost girl. Just the idea that every horror ever took place in the same world was something that was neat to think about.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Firstborn (2017) - Horror Film Review

Firstborn (Pirmdzimtais) is a Latvian thriller that was written and directed by Aik Karapetian (The Man in the Orange Jacket). This is quite a slow burn of a film, in fact at times it is so slow paced that it becomes glacial. I usually find that slow films are often dripping in atmosphere, and that is certainly true with this one.

Cold, intellectual Francis (Kaspars Znotins) is trapped in a loveless marriage with flirtatious and carefree Katrina (Maija Doveika). One night while they are walking home from a friends house they are confronted by a young biker (Kaspars Zale) who assaults Francis and steals Katrina's handbag. With his pride hurt Francis sets out to find the thief on his own, so that he can be seen as the hero. Locating the thief in some remote woodland industrial ruins he attempts to bribe him into giving the stolen items back, but Francis's plan goes wrong and he ends up accidentally causing the man's death. Thinking he has gotten away with it he begins to get more and more paranoid that there is someone out there who knows what he has done. Eventually this turns out to be correct and he gets blackmailed into committing further crimes in order to protect his unborn child from retaliation for his past act.

Firstborn is focussed heavily on the relationship between the two protagonists, though much more of it follows Francis who is quite the unlikable 'hero'. Throughout he comes across as weasley and a coward, with it hard to say that his actions throughout are not more for his benefit than anyone else's. A prime example is when Katrina is attacked, she calls him on his mobile begging for his help, but instead he decides to head off to find the person responsible. He is so selfishly caught up in trying to look like the hero that he fails to be there when people need him. There is bad chemistry between the central two which works great for what this is setting out to do. Francis and Katrina are polar opposites from each other and their lack of communication and trust leads up to a lot of the plot developments.

Monday, 20 May 2019

One Must Fall (2018) - Horror Film Review

One Must Fall is a horror comedy that comes from Antonio Pantoja in his feature length directorial debut, who also wrote and co-edited this. It does something a little different in that the horror and comedy aspects are kept separate from each other. It is all fun and games until the killing begins, then the humour fades away to make room for some pretty extreme violence.

Having recently been fired from their office jobs, Sarah (Julie Streble - Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, The Zombie Movie), and her best friend Alton (Andrew Yackel) are forced to get the first job they can find. This turns out to be working as part of a crime scene cleanup crew. The second day on the job they head to an abandoned paint factory that had been host to a series of murders by a serial killer (Barry Piacente) that is loose in the city. However it soon becomes apparent this killer never actually left the scene of his crime and is more than happy to add Sarah and her colleagues to his kill count.

To start with the comedy part of One Must Fall is in abundance. There are characters, such as Sarah's office boss who are walking caricatures, while dialogue is geared towards humour such as Sarah's mother talking to her about how scared Sarah got watching Psycho as a child, and the scene with the assistant of the cleanup crew manager telling the new starters not to get eye contact with him. It is all faintly ridiculous in a good way. This first act also includes a fun cameo by the legend Lloyd Kaufman, his weird conversation about finding a body was a great throwaway moment that fitted perfectly with the vibe. It makes it all the more abrasive when the horror begins and the humour quickly fades away.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

First Communions (2016) by Geoffrey Girand - Horror Anthology Book Review

What I used to say when accepting eBooks for review is that due to a backlog it would take some time to get around to reading it, but that no matter how long it took I would eventually read it for review. I received a copy of Geoffrey Girand's horror anthology First Communions back in April...2016, my tardy self has just finished reading it, so a review is in order! I will say what I always say for book reviews - I don't review many books and so I never feel I do a good job at these, but practice makes perfect so they say.

First Communions is made up of 16 short stories, each of which has previously been published in various collections over the years. These were all well written, though some I found to be a little too abstract, or flowery in how they were crafted. Luckily for me this anthology includes a few zombie tales which are a perfect fit for my blog. So I may as well start with the zombie ones. For Restful Death I Cry gives a unique sci-fi twist to a typical undead story. Here in what seems to be a post apocalyptic world a man explores a retirement home from a previous golden age in human history, his aim is to scavenge the technology. Medical chairs in the past were used to artificially keep alive the elderly residents of these former homes, some of them are alive even up to the day the story is set. Unto The Lord A New Song takes place after zombie apocalypse has happened, the protagonist of this one discovers the son of a preacher who has created a contraption to make severed zombie heads 'sing'. That was a fun one to read. The best story in the whole book for me though was Dead In The Water that features a zombie outbreak occurring on a pirate ship. Zombies and pirates combined are not a new idea, but I found this one to be quite the entertaining read, I loved how it was paced out, and the final few sentences were great.

Then there were a few stories that tapped into the vibe of H.P Lovecraft. He remains to me to be the writer of the most legitimately terrifying stories ever written, no one has ever even come close to the soul wrenching horror of his stories. Saying that I always love a good homage to this master and there are a few here. The anthology starts off with Translatio that features a cursed writer forced to write down the words of an ancient God, the horrors he puts onto paper come to pass in real life. Psychomachia was about a mine whose miners appeared to have accidentally tunnelled all the way down to Hell itself. These same miners then get possessed, or changed by the experience, this reminded me of the ghouls from horror comedy Peelers. This was all told in a roundabout way long after the events had occurred. If I recall rightly it ends with a bit of a needless twist end. Release Me is the one most inspired by H.P Lovecraft, Girand even states this saying he tried to write the most Lovecraftian story he could. In this one a cursed house on top of a hill is home to a literal sleeping giant contained within the basement, great stuff!

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Hunter's Weekend (2018) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Hunter's Weekend is a found footage/mocumentary comedy horror film that comes from writer and director Amy Taylor. Horror like many genres is one where the majority of directors are male, off the top of my head Tricia Lee (Blood Hunters, Silent Retreat) and Jennifer Phillips (Blood Child) are the two directors that came to mind as the few examples I could think of for feature length films. Taylor's intent seems to be to give a female voice to horror, and with the small crew being made up of 60% women, and with a subject matter about toxic masculinity it makes for something a little different.

Lyle (Benjamin Guenther) is a park ranger at a national park who along with his hapless assistant Victor (Christopher J. Young) holds an annual hunting competition there. This year they have hired a cameraman in order to get a documentary made of the event. It turns out that the participants are all serial killers. However the duo soon discover that there is a rogue killer on the loose, one who is breaking the rules by murdering the other players. More due to his beloved event getting ruined than a sense of responsibility for his guests Lyle and Victor set out to find and stop this rule breaker...

There are some additional things you have to look out for when reviewing found footage horrors, the most important for me is how believable is the central premise of everything just happening to be filmed. It works here due to the documentary aspect, having hired a cameraman the two are going to make full use of him. You soon come to realise Lyle and Victor themselves are also serial killers which gives a contrast with What We Do in the Shadows due to the comedic nature of this, and having bad people hiring a filmmaker. It felt a little weird how it was revealed about the nature of the people taking part in the event. It is left up to the viewer to piece together that the cast are mostly killers. Eventually this comes really obvious from the dialogue, but I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes of the start of this confused, trying to work out in my head what all the throwaway comments meant. When they find a severed hand and work out it belonged to a notorious killer I was thinking 'how on Earth did they know it belonged to a serial killer?' due to not realising the nature of the contest. Even then I never did work out what exactly the aim of the event was, were these people there to kill other humans, or where they hunting animals? I found a lot of my questions to initially be distracting from the unfolding plot.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Agapornis (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Agapornis (Love Birds) is a short Spanish horror that comes from director Jose Mellinas (who was an actor in [REC] 3: Genesis as well as Game of Thrones). Mellinas also co-wrote this with Rosario Curiel, and appears in a small role within the short. This is a black and white horror that goes for a Gothic vibe, rather than over the top violence and jump scares.

After their mother passes away sisters Laura and Alicia inherit her remote house. Alicia had been away from the family for quite some time and her sister resents her for leaving her alone with her possessive mother, and her mother's boyfriend Mario. It also turns out there is a forgotten secret from the families past that just may come back to haunt Alicia...

While I didn't feel the overall story was conveyed as well as it could have been I did like the oppressive mood this created. The black and white 1970's setting gave off a moody feeling, while the interaction with the two sisters makes it clear there is an unaddressed issue. The horror comes in the form of a mysterious radio that their bird obsessed mother adored. This radio keeps turning up in the most random of places, always accompanied by a loud distorted cackle. This reminded me a bit of The Twilight Zone, I could see this with a little bit of adapting working great within the structure of that classic show. The twist here though didn't feel like it had the impact it should have. With a run time of just under fifteen minutes I felt some aspects were not able to be explored fully which left me with questions. It is nice to leave stuff to the viewers imagination but for me these lost elements led me to being a little confused as to characters motivations.

This does have some good moments though, especially the final scene that weirdly made me think of the monster from the DLC for The Evil Within video game (The Assignment). I liked how the voice of the mother echoes to make it sound like her voice is coming from a speaker. It all ends on a somewhat ambiguous note. While there is a good atmosphere built up just from the creepy house alone I found the obvious horror moments to work well, and found this to be engaging.

Despite a few issues with how the story was told here I think that altogether this worked even if at times it seemed to be just on the cusp of being creepy, rather than actually being so. Agapornis is currently in a festival run, being shown around the world.


Friday, 10 May 2019

Flesh City (2019) - Horror Film Review

I received an email from the director and writer of Flesh City - Thorsten Fleisch whilst I was on a rare night out in town, in the process of getting very drunk, around a month back. I just loved the poster for his film and kept looking at it wondering just what sort of film this would turn out to be. My day job has been exhaustingly busy with its endless overtime and so it has taken me quite a while to get to the film. Over the course of three days I have finally managed to get the time to watch all of it, and what an experience it was! I'm not sure how this review will pan out as this is a very hard film to really talk about due to its abstract nature.

Taking place in Berlin, this follows a young man - Vyren (Christian Serritiello) who heads to a nightclub. There he befriends a young woman called Loquette (Eva Ferox) and together they head away from the crowded dance rooms and go deep into the clubs labyrinthian basement. It is down there that they are attacked by some sort of electronic insect, Loquette is abducted by a lightning man, who also performs some sort of operation on Vyren that changes his hand into a kind of fleshy tendril. Leaving the club, confused and hurt he stumbles through the Berlin streets, everything he touches with his mutated hand causes that too to mutate, changing the brutal architecture of the city into that of flesh...

I could see the near total lack of cohesive story to be something that people could get repelled by. I get the feeling this is a film that you would either hate or love. Thankfully for me sitting through this trippy experience I fell onto the loving it side. I admit straight away I have no idea what is going on here! I don't get what the aim of this was, or what any kind of metaphors the abstract images signify, but I know I found it to be engaging. There is so much going on here that I can't see how you could be bored. Through the trip you get close up visuals of large beetles, their movements making electronic sounds, you get Satanists putting on web shows, a subplot involving a avant-garde music group led by singer Womb Envy (Marilena Netzker) preparing for a show, and then the literal sight of a flesh city that felt like something from a David Firth animation.

Monday, 6 May 2019

High on the Hog (2019) - Horror Film Review

When I found out that the modern day grindhouse film High on the Hog starred Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects) I knew I just had to see it. This isn't really a horror, but it fits in right at home in the genre due to its dedication to recreating the feel of a 70's exploitation film. What would otherwise be a simple enough story is made much more involving due to this reverence for its inspirations by director Tony Wash.

A deadly strain of weed is being sold in the city, a strain which causes its user to lose their mind, and which is causing an increasing number of fatalities. In actuality it is the result of a corrupt politician hoping to halt the legalisation of marijuana by causing a new scare in the vein of 'reefer madness', but that isn't known to the DTA agents investigating this outbreak. Loose cannon Agent Dick (Joe Estevez - Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance) thinks he has pinpointed the source of this bad strain to a man affectionately known locally as Big Daddy (Haig), who grows weed out on his farm. Dick is prepared to go to any lengths, no matter how illegal, to get his man.

So the first thing that has to be mentioned is how choppy this all is. The film is made to seem like it is poor quality with frequent moments when the film 'burns up' as well as the inclusion of 'missing reel' sections whenever something juicy is going to happen. With this comes a very fast paced editing style with many shots only being a second or so long before switching to the next, over and over again. There are also semi-subliminal images edited into the footage, and out of context shots, such as of half naked girls dancing spliced into it as well. Rather than make this a confusing mess though it really adds to the grindhouse/exploitation angle that make up the bones of High on the Hog. This also features one of the best 'bad trip' montages I have seen in a movie of this type. The way this starts with a girl smoking some contaminated weed for us to then see her perspective was so good looking. As her friends all turn into plasticine figures, the camerawork and editing goes into overdrive, and we see her heart and veins (also as plasticine), it creates a really disorientating and suffocating feel that is perfect for what this scene was going for.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Aliens (1986) - Sci-fi Horror Film Review (1990 Director's Cut)

Originally I had intended to play the video game Alien: Isolation following on from watching Alien the other week, due to that taking place as its own sequel to the original film. Last night however I found myself with an urge to carry on with the series and so for the third time only I sat down to watch director James Cameron's Oscar award winning Aliens (Cameron of course known for such greats as The Terminator and, Terminator 2: Judgement Day). I first saw this in the mid 90's and happened to see the 1990's director's cut. A few years later I got the box set of the first four Alien films and watching the theatrical release version I was disappointed to see some of my favourite moments were gone. Now nearly two decades later I have again returned to this film, once again opting to watch the director's cut of the film.

Over fifty years after Ripley (Sigourney Weaver - Alien, Ghostbusters) escaped her doomed space merchant vessel in an escape vessel, it is finally discovered. She is awoken from cryo-sleep and explains her actions to her bosses at the company she works for. However her story is deemed too unbelievable and she is stripped of her work licence and suspended. Ripley then learns that the moon in which her and her team first encountered the eggs that lead to so much misery has in the past fifty years become inhabited by a space colony. After losing contact with this group her former employees decide to send in a team of colonial marines to investigate. Fearing for the safety of the colonists, as well as with the promise of getting her old job back she agrees to go with the marines to act as a consultant on the alien menace. However upon arriving things quickly go downhill, this time around rather than just facing the one xenomorph there is a whole army of the creatures to face...

Aliens eschews the slow paced survival horror of the original for something that is far more action packed. The first third or so is tense, and it does take a while for the threat to become known, but from this point onwards this is much more action horror with many of the scenes fast paced with lots and lots of guns and aliens. Immediately impressive was the set design, that like the original stands out as iconic. While there are a lot of models used here for establishing shots it all looks really good even now. The only noticeable elements that don't work as well are scenes involving the transport ship that sits uneasily against the backgrounds it's been superimposed onto. The director's cut features seventeen minutes of additional footage which helps to flesh out characters more, as well as provides additional scenes of xenomorphs attacking. This extra footage all fits in well and adds some meat onto the bones of the action here.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Shed (2019) - Horror Film Review

I almost missed seeing Shed. Thankfully I did eventually notice it sitting at the bottom of my white board 'to watch' list, and I say thankfully because this is a damn good movie. This is an indie film and it really does show, but rather than be a hindrance, director (as well as writer, editor, cinematographer, cameraman and producer) David Axe leans into it with something that felt like a legitimate throwback to eighties horrors.

Middle aged 'crazy' Mike (Mike Amason) holds yearly Halloween parties at his remote farmland property that all his young friends attend. He has a reputation for his conspiracy theories, the biggest one of his being that centuries ago skin stealing creatures arrived in America and now live among the general population in secret. Two of the party goers go outside for some fresh air and stumble across a shed with a 'Keep Out' sign on it. One of them decides to enter the building and apparently is killed, the other one runs back to the main house and lets everyone know, yet upon arrival back at the shed the alleged victim appears alive and well. It turns out that skin stealers really are real, and that they are determined that no one is to survive the party in order to keep their secret safe...

Shed doesn't waste any time in setting up the main plot. Within 20 minutes the horror has began and it stays on point for the whole 82 minute run time. This takes place nearly entirely at night, the way it is lit, and the way it is directed gave me a real nostalgic feeling. Scenes are often poorly lit, not in a way that makes it impossible to see what is going on, but instead in a way that compliments the action with the shadows helping set the mood. The cinematography and camera work is often a thing of beauty here, I loved all the different classic ways of filming, I was reminded of The Evil Dead on more than one occasion. Filming people inside a building through the window from outside, first person perspective shots and the whole remote setting brought that to mind.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Zombie Land Saga (2018) - Comedy Anime TV Series Review

I don't watch nearly enough anime, so recently I have been making an effort to get through the backlog of stuff on my list. While the premise behind Zombie Land Saga didn't really sound like my thing, the fact it had the undead in it meant my hand was forced. With season 1 being just twelve 23 minute episodes I zoomed through this in a week, a good sign as the last anime I watched - Clockwork Planet was also twelve episodes, yet took me the better part of six months to drag my way through.

Sakura Minamoto (Kaede Hondo) is a normal Japanese girl who has aspirations of becoming a pop idol. On her way to hand in a application form to audition to be one she is hit by a truck. She awakens in a strange mansion and is shocked to see it is full of zombies, she flees but eventually comes to the realisation that she too is now one of the undead. A mysterious man - Kotaro Tatsumi has somehow brought her, and six former pop idols from history back to life as zombies. His goal is simple, to create the ultimate pop idol group in order to bring attention to the prefecture of Saga, doing so he hopes will save it from decline.

So from the summery it can be inferred that this is a comedy. While it is comical it never turns into the sort of farce that animes such as Excel Saga were. Instead it keeps things relatively normal outside of the crazy situations the group get into. This also surprised in that it has a lot of heart to it at times with characters growing as people over the course of the season. Some of the characters get episodes dedicated to them, that shows how events from their pre-death lives has impacted on who they are now, and the consequences of their passing. Saki Nikaido for instance used to be the leader of a biker gang, and comes across a girl that she realises is her former best friend's daughter. She has aspirations of keeping that same gang alive. The youngest member - twelve year old Lily Hoshikawa in a different episode discovers her father and the impact her death had on his life. I did quite like that some of the characters suffer PTSD from their deaths, in particular for Ai Mizuno who died after being struck by lightning during a gig.