Sunday, 30 June 2019
This year is going by so quickly, it seems like only yesterday I was doing the news round-up post for May. It's a humid day today so I'm feeling kinda sleepy, though sure that won't affect this post! I had planned to have Monday as a designated blog day, but that was too much so am spreading the weeks posts out over three days, and putting up one post every two days.
The surreal anthology show Bible Black currently has its first episode free to watch. Apparently this has been banned in several states in America. The show is almost like a graphic novel come to life and features dark and twisted stories.
The excellent found footage horror Butterfly Kisses has now been released on various VOD platforms that includes iTunes, Google, Xbox, Amazon and Vimeo. It follows a wannabe filmmaker who discovers a box full of creepy DVR cassettes and decides to edit them together so he can release a real life found footage film. I said of this "is a film that reminds me just how much I love horror."
I mentioned in May's news round-up that there was going to be an anthology book about the legend of Peeping Tom (the evil force from Butterfly Kisses) released, and now there is a podcast that has been released that goes more into this fictional legend. Hosted by Michael Joy, he is joined by the director of the film, Erik Kristopher Myers, and the author of the upcoming book 'In The Blink of An Eye', Patrick Glover. The podcast can be found here.
Also recently released is the bizarre, yet great Rondo that I described as "an exciting, darkly comedic revenge thriller", and which pays homage to the exploitation films of the 1970's. It is now out on DVD and VOD.
Cautionary Comics have announced Offworlder issue #1 that is 'an Epic Fantasy that mixes History with Science Fiction'. It stars Henry Gunn who is a seventh century Scotsman that gets abducted by an alien race. They want him to stop an evil alien race from conquering the universe. It has been described as 'Highlander in space'. For more details check out the Indiegogo page here.
Drag queen horror film Killer Unicorn has been acquired by Indican Pictures. It is the latest film from director Drew Bolton and writer Jose D. Alvarez. It takes place in the underground dance scene of Brooklyn, New York and is about a serial killer who targets drag queens. It came to theatres in the U.S June 14th, and will be coming to DVD and Digital platforms July 9th.
Terror Films have acquired worldwide rights to ride-share feature horror-thriller End Trip. It features Aaron Jay Rome (who wrote, directed, and produced this) as Brandon, a rideshare driver who picks up Judd (Dean West). The two seem to be striking up a new friendship but for one of them things are about to get dangerous. This was due for release on June 21st, initially in North America on Prime Video and Vudu. Later in the year will see it get released on other platforms, and on DVD.
Gothic/Death Rock band Christian Death have released a new video for their song 'Forgiven'. This comes from their latest album The Root of All Evilution. You can check that out below. Christian Death are currently on tour.
Jeff Payne's (The Pale Faced Lady, Michael Myers Versus Jason Vorhees) is currently working on a sequel to The Pale Faced Lady. I said of that short film that there were not any surprises to be found, it was also slightly experimental with how the story was told. The sequel sounds like it will be traditional as it is to focus on one character and takes place in real time, as opposed to the almost fairytale style story of the first one. Payne is a genius when it comes to editing so I look forward to seeing if this can build on the ideas of the first film.
Small Town Monsters have revealed a first look at their new docudrama MOMO: The Missouri Monster. This intends to tell the real life story of the titular creature. It was said to be a hair covered three-toed creature that prowled the forests of Star Hill during the summer of 1972.
I had originally planned to end this months news post here, but in the past week I have received some more info about cool new things and so hot off the press...
Creature Feature Weekend is coming to Gettysburg this August. This is a new horror convention that is going to run from 30th August to 1st September. Confirmed special guests include among them Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander (The Lost Boys), Joe Bob Briggs (The Last Drive-In), Glen Ennis (Freddy vs Jason), Tom Woodruff (Aliens, Pumpkinhead), Billy Bryan (Army of Darkness, Ghostbusters) and Walter Phelan (House of 1,000 Corpses, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight). If you're interested tickets can be brought here.
The only information I have for this next one is a title - Vampyrz on a Boat, and going by the trailer this seems like an accurate description of what the film will involve. This one comes from Firebreathing Films.
Friday, 28 June 2019
Alien3 has had a bad rap over the years, and not without good reason. This was a movie that was plagued with no end of problems throughout it's troubled production, from extensive script rewrites, to bickering amongst crew, to going completely over budget, this had it all. Director David Fincher (Se7en, Gone Girl) has never gone back to Alien3 and so there wasn't a definitive director's cut, however 2003 saw the release of the 'Assembly Cut' that based a lot of its changes and reworks on what Fincher's original vision for the movie had been. This cut clocks in at 145 minutes, as opposed to the theatrical run time of 114 minutes.
Following on a few weeks (or possibly even days) after the end of Aliens, the film starts with an escape pod crashing on prison planet Fiorina 161. A xenomorph had managed to get on the ship Ripley (Sigourney Weaver - Alien, Aliens), Hicks, young Newt, and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen - Aliens, Near Dark) had used to escape the alien infested planet from the last film, and had caused its destruction. Ripley is rescued by the former inmates of the prison, who now live there as a religious commune. She is informed that she was tragically the only one to survive the crash. However a facehugger also survived and has created a new type of xenomorph. Trapped on a weaponless planet Ripley and the inmates must come up with a way to destroy the creature before it kills them all...
I had only seen Alien3 once before and had found it to be very boring. I really wasn't expecting much going back, but honestly, it is not as bad as I remembered. I particularly liked the set design, and while this can be a little slow going at times there is a good sense of atmosphere and bleakness to be found here. That opening of all the survivors of Aliens getting unceremoniously wiped off still leaves a bad taste though. I understand the reasoning but it felt like a snub to the story of the previous film. I have heard it said that one of the reasons Alien3 failed critically was that it ignored the more gung-ho approach of the second film and tried to recreate the slow tension of Alien. Trying to create mystery about a xenomorph that is now a known property was seen as a bad move. However I actually like this aspect of the film. Having Ripley armed with knowledge of how the creatures work, teaming up with a whole band of capable followers led to some exciting scenes. Having to come up with occasionally Scooby-Doo levels of convoluted plans to trap the monstrous killer was pretty fun on occasion.
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia is a short seven minute horror that was co-directed by Shane Ryan (Oni-gokko, My Name is 'A' by Anonymous) and Lilith Singson (Kamatayan) who also stars in this. As the title suggests it is made up of two halves, both that feature the same actress. This is an experimental film, as such it wasn't really my thing as I didn't really understand what it was going for.
'Chapter 1 = Her Life' takes up roughly half the short. It is a series of fast edits of two people covered in blood, throughout this it goes back to someone laying on the ground seemingly dying as a woman plays around with the blood on their face. 'Chapter 2 = Her Death' follows the girl from the first part as she walks around a forest, this part is shot in black and white.
Yeah, as I said I really didn't understand this much. There are some nice shots in chapter 1, there is great use of focus, and some strong images, such as how it ends with the woman looking tripped out staring into the camera. Looking up the title's meaning, dacryphilia is a term for one who is aroused by tears or sobbing, hematolagnia meanwhile is a sexual arousal by blood, which I guess explains chapter 1 a little better for me. While not much really happens in chapter 2 it was shot in an attractive way, and features a fantastic final flickering image of the woman in silhouette as this strange insect like sound effect plays.
Despite not really getting the message here I found Dacryphilia + Hematolagnia to be an interesting short that is backed up by some strong editing and some strong imagery, as well as a healthy amount of blood and some nicely lit scenes. This was something I initially didn't think I liked, yet found myself strangely drawn back to it again and again the days after first viewing it.
Monday, 24 June 2019
I first heard of Rakefet Abergel when I saw 2017's award winning Jax in Love in which she not only wrote the story, but also starred as the psychotic loner Jax travelling the backroads of America looking for love. She is now back with her latest film which again she wrote, and stars in, but which also marks her directorial debut. Boo is a fifteen minute horror about how addiction is not only harmful to you, but those you love also (and is not to be confused with the terrible feature length Boo from 2005).
Jared (Josh Kelly - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) arrives to pick up his fiancee Devi (Abergel) from her weekly AA meeting, but is shocked to find her panicked and covered in blood. As he drives her home flashbacks reveal just what happened to put her into such a state.
I'm a sucker for stories that start in the present and then go back in time to show how events led up to that point and so it was a pleasure to see that used here, at least for the first half before that has all been explained. I really liked how this was told, rather than just one long sequence you are instead given little bites that have a natural flow to them. Whenever Devi gets triggered in the present we then get to see how that relates to what she has gone through. So when she inhales deeply to get her breathing under control we then see her standing outside the AA meeting with friends while she inhales the smoke from a cigarette. Then later when Jared goes to touch her she recoils and we then get to see exactly why she is reacting that way.
Abergel gives a great central performance and gives a great contrast between her normal self when she is hanging with her friends, and the frenzied panic stricken mess she becomes. It was also nice that her upset part was varied rather than being one note, it made her seem like a more believable character. The rest of the cast also were great in their roles, I enjoyed the conversation her and two women have (played by Laura Wiggins - Shameless, and Parisa Fitz-Henley - Luke Cage) which gives the first hints that maybe things aren't exactly what they seem. It might have been obvious there would be some kind of twist, and even what sort of twist that would be, but it was still fun to see how the story gets there.
Boo follows the trend of more women in horror, and films in general, it is always good to see a female take on horror, and this went more so with it stated that over 50% of the cast and crew were female. For me personally this felt like a step up from Jax in Love, I enjoyed the more condensed story, and the format with how it was shown. A take on an old idea, but one that was entertaining from start to finish.
Saturday, 22 June 2019
I liked the idea behind Clinton Road (directed by Richard Grieco and Steve Stanulis) even if it didn't exactly sound original. A group of friends lost out in the woods can make for a decent horror. However it soon becomes clear that just like the protagonists here, the film itself is a bit lost and doesn't really know what it wants to do, and ends up just being a bit of an incoherent mess. What is good though is that Clinton Road is actually a real life road in New Jersey, and is said to be one of the most haunted roads in America. Apparently a lot of the accounts and events here are based on real life stories of things people have experienced there.
A year after his wife went missing while travelling on the notorious Clinton Road, Michael (Ace Young), along with his sister-in-law Isabella (Katie Morrison - School Spirits), his new girlfriend Kayla (Lauren LaVera - Iron Fist), and best friend Tyler (Cody Calafiore) head there, along with psychic Begory (James DeBello - Cabin Fever) and his girlfriend. Michael and Isabella hope that the psychic will be able to give them some closure, instead his connection to the spirit world turns out to be an accidental gateway for all the evil spirits haunting the road to come through to attack the group.
After a star studded start that occurs in a nightclub run by Rj (Ice-T - Bloodrunners), and which felt like it existed only to show off some cameos we head to the woods. It was only later that I came to appreciate this first act. On the one hand it is a jarring contrast to the dark and silent woods, but it also is the only part of the film that feels cohesive. The friends arrive at the woods and within moments all conveniently get separated from each other, barely to ever meet up for the rest of the movie. This leads to three different plots going on, each following a pair as they experience spooky stuff. Tyler and Kayla end up by a river, their sleazy interactions with each other made me think for sure they were going to get up to no good, but that isn't the case. Instead there is a weird sequence that doesn't really get resolved, the movie rarely goes back to these characters. The same happens for Begory and his girlfriend. The reason for everyone splitting up is that the psychic has some kind of fit which gives him visions of all the evil around them. This happens during the day time yet it is soon inexplicably night with him still just sat around not really doing much. This felt like another wasted storyline in that nothing much happens at all. It is Michael and Isabella who become the main focus, which I guess makes sense due to their connection to Clinton Road.
Thursday, 20 June 2019
It seems lately there has been a real shift in the love affair people in general have had with the undead. First there has been no end of complaints about The Walking Dead with people saying it had gotten stale and dull. Next earlier in the year the fantastic open world survival game Days Gone released to critics apathy, and now after having finished watching the fantastic Netflix series Black Summer I was dismayed to see that the majority of the reviews were less than favourable. Once again I have to battle against the negativity and proclaim this is something that needs to be watched.
Black Summer takes place a couple of months after a global zombie outbreak and follows a series of survivors over the course of a couple of hellish days. Uninfected people had been kept within a military safe zone and are due for evacuation, the evacuation point being a football stadium in downtown. On the day this transfer is meant to happen a whole bunch of different people miss the military transports and have to band together to make the perilous journey to the stadium on foot. These include among them Rose (Jaime King - My Bloody Valentine, Sin City) who got seperated from her young daughter during the move, a criminal (Justin Chu Cary) who has taken on the identity of a soldier he killed named Spears, a young Asian woman, Sun (Christine Lee) who doesn't speak a word of English, and the cowardly Lance (Kelsey Flower).
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
The Killing Death (directed and written by Ian Russell) is a low budget comedy horror that was inspired by the films of the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!). Lewis was credited for creating the 'splatter' subgenre of horror films, a genre that focuses on gore and graphic violence. As is always the way I avoided reading anything about this film before watching it but was pleasantly surprised to find that the shoe string budget didn't get in the way of what is for the most part quite the funny movie.
Seasoned detective Frank (Jeremy Dangerfield - R.L. Stine's The Haunting Tour) and his rookie partner Jimmy (Tyhr Trubiak - Tempus Tormentum) are investigating a series of grisly murders that have taken place around the city they work in one long night. At each crime scene a victim has had a different body part removed. Meanwhile crazed pizza delivery guy Phil (Neil Reimer) is on a mission to collect ingredients for a very special pizza he is making...
The joy of not reading anything about this before watching was that it took me a little while to realise this was a comedy. I thought the script was very corny but it soon become very apparent this was of course on purpose. This is a film that starts off almost as a straight horror but becomes more and more farcical as it goes along. Leading this comedic adventure is Dangerfield who gets the most ridiculous lines, speaking mainly in tired cliches. His inept detective work, as well as his look, and the way he speaks really reminded me of Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin from Police Squad, in fact the only thing missing was him also giving narration. Much of the humour comes from the dialogue between the characters, usually between Frank and the straight man that is Jimmy. An early example of an exchange between them: "Sure is a nice night" "For a murder" "...I meant there wasn't a lot of traffic" "A quiet street hides a killer, never forget that Jimmy" "but we're in a suburb" "Hell is a suburb, where all the bad guys hang out together". The Killing Dead is littered with such ridiculous conversations throughout that on at least two different occasions made me laugh out loud. The highlight of this was a scene involving Jimmy interviewing a very jaded janitor.
Sunday, 16 June 2019
Back in 2015 I became aware of UK thrash/death/black metal band Evil Brain Taste when I was sent the video to 'The Taste of Evil Brains' that was taken off their debut album Dead Dead Bad. I enjoyed the song so much that I went and brought that album. Well they have recently put out some new music - a six track EP titled I Am Evil Brain Taste that was released on 31st May. Even better is that it is currently free to listen to on YouTube. I don't often review music so I hope you can at least take the feeling I got from listening to this, even if I don't know how to explain how the music actually sounds.
Send More Paramedics were one of my favourite bands back when they were still un-living, and so I have a lot of time for any similar style of music that rises, especially when the band members are all of the undead variety! The members consist of Bone - vocals, Stench - guitars, Chot - Bass, and Legg - drums. As can be inferred by everything said so far this band are not about tackling serious issues, but instead just produce music that is not only entertaining and silly, but which is also actually competent and played to a satisfying degree.
First track on Evil Brain Taste's latest EP is 'The Day When Everything Became About Brains' which is a glorious five minute instrumental held together from various soundbites detailing zombie apocalypse. Starting off with news reports of the dead walking it leads up to a final desperate message from a man under siege wondering if he is the last human alive on Earth.
Next up is three minute titular track 'I Am Evil Brain Taste' that is the first we hear of frontman Bone's almost whisper like growling singing style. I have to say I was impressed with the quality of the recording on this EP, I did kind of expect muddy production but everything is crisp and clear to hear with the rotting vocals coming through for the most part clear.
Following this is the excellent 'Spider Bath' that again comes in at around three minutes. Like the rest of their songs this has a really great chugging style to the guitar work, the lyrics that contain such lines as "you can take the bath out the spider, can't take the spider out the bath" work so much better than they should, and actually imparts a sensible message about how stupid it is to be scared of the mostly harmless creatures.
Onto the second half of the album now with 'Terinator' that is about the funny tale of someone recounting how they used to draw pictures based on VHS covers as a child, but one day made the traumatic mistake of missing out the letter M when drawing the cover for The Terminator. This has a nice energetic chorus and a fun little soundbite paraphrasing Arnie "If you're alive you are coming with me". Again what I love about this style of music is the chugging guitar, it makes the songs feel like they could go on indefinitely in the best way.
'Ghosts' follows this and unsurprisingly is about ghosts, specifically hunting for them. It has some old style spooky music blended in, and no end of entertaining lyrics, such as "ghosts - are they in the cupboard, ghosts - is it just thin air?".
Final track ends on an undead note again with 'Ultimate Zombie' which eventually leads into a great riff that wouldn't have sounded out of place with the original version of the Doom video game.
I Am Evil Brain Taste is an enjoyable 22 minutes of zombie death metal that in my humble opinion is well worth a listen. There sadly are not too many good bands that do this style nowadays. I will include the link to the EP below so check it out if it appeals.
Friday, 14 June 2019
Now that I no longer work Mondays I figured I would do a double bill at the cinema due to two different horror films being out at the moment. Ma was the first film, with Godzilla: King of the Monsters being the second one I saw. As such my memory may be a little on some details of this one, though I did make some notes immediately afterwards. Now I really wasn't taken with the idea behind this one, the trailer didn't appeal to me, but it needed a review on my blog so I went along anyway. Having seen it, it isn't my type of film...but it is better than I expected it to be.
Directed by Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train, The Help, and who also had a bit part here) this horror is about a lonely woman called Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer - The Shape of Water, Halloween II) who befriends a group of high school teens after agreeing to buy alcohol for them one day. She decides to let them, and all their friends use her basement at her remote house as a place to come to get high, get drunk, and have crazy parties. These friends include Maggie (Diana Silvers) who has recently moved to the area, as well as Andy, Chaz, Haley and Darrell. Things start off well with many a good time had, but there is a sinister side to Sue Ann, or 'Ma' as she likes to be known. As the group starts to see this hidden side of her they try to distance themselves, but the more they do this the more twisted and obsessive she gets.
I often like to hear what people say about the films I watch as I leave the cinema, and the key comment I heard here was that 'it took a while to get going'. I think I would agree with that. There is a gradual build up of events happening, but it is back loaded into the final third when things really reach the station known as Horror Town. From the off though it is obvious that Ma has something wrong with her, with her behind the scenes manipulations plainly shown. Spencer actually did a great job with her here, the film delights in the moments when she goes from looking happy to psychotically angry as quick as a switch being flipped. She in a way carries this film far more than the bland and underdeveloped teenage cast. Moments such as the awkward and uncomfortable video messages she leaves the group really build her up as unsettling. I guess main lead Silvers does a good enough job, I kinda liked the interactions with Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) who plays her mum, but her character really isn't anything special. The teens all act like sacrifices to a story that ends up being far more about the adults of the small town Ma is set in. In particular aside from Spencer herself it was Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies) who was the real stand out. His role may have only been that of a side character but I liked his portrayal of a former school bully now grown up.
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Malaysian director Michael Wong's The Tattooist is a micro short, coming in at just over a minute long. Rather than tell a cohesive story it acts more like a trailer for a bigger idea. Obviously with such a short length this isn't going to be the longest review.
A tattooist (Wang Yanhu) is known for his stunning work, however he has a dark side to him. For those who receive his best work are drugged and imprisoned in a Hostel style torture palace. Admittedly I got the plot not from the short itself, but by the accompanying blurb, though the trailer does a great job of showing this divide.
Starting off is a sweep through a clean and sterile tattoo parlour, jaunty music by Found In The Attic plays as we see the artist working on a girl. Then with a break with what seems to be the film footage burning up a quick succession of edited scenes of carnage play out in an art house style way. People screaming in cages, someone about to get a hammer to the face, a girl being dragged down a hallway by her hair. Then suddenly we are pack in the parlour, the jaunty music starts back up as the camera slowly pans away from the joyfully dancing artist.
I really liked the divide between the two disparate scenes, between the peacefulness of the attractive parlour to the Hell like dark and dank bloody rooms. For having no dialogue at all (unless you count screaming as dialogue) this makes its intentions clear, and the music alone adds so much character to this. It shows that even with such a small running time it is possible to really get an idea across, The Tattooist really is a fun little ride.
Monday, 10 June 2019
From the very first page of Lee Allen Howard's The Bedwetter: Journal of a Budding Psychopath I was repulsed; a graphic description of a sordid dream featuring urination, self pleasuring, and death. But then the clue is in the books title, this is written from the twisted perspective of a psycho and so this opener was like a statement of intent for the course the book would chart. It's not new to have a story told by a terrible person, ones such as Hubert Selby Jr's The Demon, and of course Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho (of which this sometimes feels similar to). Despite that though it is done rarely enough that it sticks out from the more traditional tales.
Russell Pisarek is a damaged twenty-six year old both haunted and shaped by the awful abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother as a child. He works at an animal testing laboratory and shares a house with his sister Becky and her young son Aiden, but is lost, and prone to frequent uncontrollable fits of anger. Over the course of The Bedwetter he comes to realise his true sinister calling in life and sets out on a murderous path from which there is no returning.
There's no getting away from the fact that Russell is a truly nasty protagonist but the book goes at least some way to clearly explain why he happens to be this way. The abuse he suffered shaped him, and as such he is trapped. Coming from his viewpoint you can at least see why he is like he is even if you find his actions disgusting. It would have been easy to make a one dimensional villain, but this past makes Russell into someone more fleshed out. This is all told via conversations he has with family members, frequent dreams and nightmares that plague him, and his own dark thoughts. While I could never get on board with his actions, at least with the thoughts he provides you can kind of understand his reasoning for them.
Saturday, 8 June 2019
2014's Godzilla somehow managed to be as dull as dishwater, the only things I really remember about it was sitting there wondering how you could make a giant monster movie and have so little of the giant monster in it, and noticing a couple bringing in their newborn baby to the cinema, only to leave around fifteen minutes later with the screaming infant, presumably after it's eardrums were ruptured by the loud screeching and wailings in that movie. Still I had heard that Godzilla: King of the Monsters was actually a lot better and so I was prepared to give it another chance. To be truthful I didn't even realise this was a sequel to that first one, but it is, and apparently part of the 'monster-verse' or whatever they are calling it, along with Kong: Skull Island from 2017.
King of the Monsters takes place four years after the events of the first film which left San Francisco a smoking ruin. Giant monsters, or 'Titans' as they are called here are now known to the world, which struggles to decide how to deal with this emergence of super beasts. During that disaster Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga - The Conjuring films, Bates Motel) and her then husband Mark (Kyle Chandler - Super 8, King Kong) had developed a device that allowed Titans to be pacified. Now in the present day an eco-terrorist organisation led by Jonah Alan (Charles Dance - Game of Thrones, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) kidnap Emma, as well as her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown - Stranger Things) in order to use her knowledge of the device to wake-up the many Titans in a state of hibernation around the globe.
So if you came to this expecting an intelligent, sensible movie you obviously came to the wrong place. This is a special effects laden disaster movie that thankfully features not only no end of giant monsters fighting each other, but also a whole bucketful of monsters. It's a globe trotting adventure fantasy that takes in such disparate locations such as Antarctica, Mexico, Boston, and even ancient underwater cities. Switch your brain off for the ride and you will be in for a treat. For whatever reason giant monster movies are something I always manage to find dull. With a two hour running time I will admit around twenty minutes before this was over I did start to get kind of bored. That isn't to say this is boring though as there is no end of crazy shenanigans going on. Of the many, many human characters it is the monsters obviously who are the stars of the show. While the cast of characters feature a whole bunch of recognisable faces they for the most part serve no real purpose other than serve as walking talking commentators on the monsters all battling each other. I'm not sure how many actors returned from Godzilla (three apparently), but who did for sure is Ken Watanabe (Godzilla, Inception) who reprises his role as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. He was the stand out character on the human side, and he is rewarded with what is perhaps my favourite scene of the whole movie. Early on there are twists with good characters becoming bad, that was interesting. Less so is Dance whose bad guy role isn't anything special, so much so that he disappears two thirds through, assumedly returning in a future movie in the franchise.
Thursday, 6 June 2019
I had high hopes for British indie comedy zombie horror Shed of the Dead. It has a host of iconic actors, a familiar style of humour to that most famous of British zombie comedies, and of course the flesh hungry brain eaters themselves. However, rather than try and stamp out its own identity, director and writer Drew Cullingham (Umbrage: The First Vampire, The Devil's Bargain) is happy to just try and copy what has come before, but to a far less successful extent.
Unemployed thirty something slacker Trevor (Spencer Brown - Nathan Barley) spends his days in his shed at his allotment painting his miniatures for his fantasy wargaming, mostly in order to avoid his wife Bobbi (Lauren Socha). One day zombie apocalypse comes suddenly to his part of the world in London, eventually realising this he teams up with his best friend Graham (Ewen MacIntosh - The Office) and together they head back to Trevor's house in order to see if his wife, and her best friend Harriett (Emily Booth - Doghouse, Evil Aliens) are still among the living.
The fact that this so closely follows the template of Shaun of the Dead wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if this managed to do it to a competent enough level, but everything here just feels slightly off, like a jaded and twisted version of that classic. Simon Pegg's Shaun was a lazy idiot, but he was a character that you actually cared about, he had character development, with the apocalypse the event he needed to really turn his life around. Trevor on the other hand is a lazy idiot with a mean streak to him, and possible sociopathic tendencies. Before zombies even make an appearance he gets into an argument with his allotment neighbour Mr. Parsons (Kane Hodder - Friday 13th series, the Hatchet series) resulting (mild spoiler) in the man's accidental death. Showing no concern or guilt, and with little reasoning he decides rather than alert the police he is going to chop up the man's body and bury it in his allotment. This early insight into his character just repelled me completely, I really hoped he would have an arc where he would grow and develop, but instead he remains self centred, verbally aggressive, and plain nasty throughout, showing no concern for those around him at all. Graham on the other hand not only looks like Nick Frost, but his character is almost identical to how his character Ed acts in Shaun, with the unwelcome addition of being obsessed with Harriett in a way that was uncomfortable to watch. It's like they saw those two characters and wanted to replicate them, but didn't understand what fundamentally made them lovable idiots, as opposed to just idiots.
Tuesday, 4 June 2019
I haven't seen such a disconnect between video game journalists and fans as there is with Days Gone for a long long time. I had pre-ordered this game but scanning reviews the day before it released I was dismayed to see across the board it was getting average reviews, many critics saying the game was simply boring. In the weeks since it has came out though I have yet to see anyone who has played it who has in any ways been disappointed. I don't know if it was due to tight deadlines that led to reviewers zooming through Days Gone as fast as possible being the root cause, or some other baffling reason, but for me, playing the game at a leisurely pace I had an absolute blast and would readily recommend it to one and all. It is a shame to read reader comments after the various reviews thanking the reviewers for saving them from picking this up when in reality they are really missing out on a gem of a game.
This takes place in Oregon two years after a zombie apocalypse occurred that left the vast population of the world either dead or turned into flesh hungry ghouls termed by the survivors as 'freakers'. Biker Deacon St. John (voiced by Sam Witwer - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) and his best friend and fellow biker Boozer work as bounty hunters for the various friendly camps, though they have aspirations of riding north to start fresh somewhere new. During the initial outbreak Deacon was separated from his wife Sarah (voiced by Courtnee Draper - Bioshock: Infinite) after she was airlifted to supposed safety on a NERO (National Emergency Response Organisation) helicopter after being stabbed, however upon arriving at the camp where she was being taken he and Boozer found it in ruins and full of freakers, so she is assumed to be dead. The game begins with the two bikers plans to ride north nearly finalised, however this is thwarted after Deacon's bike is stolen and dismantled for parts. While he does jobs in order to get the funds and parts to rebuild a new bike he comes into contact with a violent and deranged cult nicknamed 'Rippers', whose mysterious leader seems to have a particular sinister interest in him and Boozer for reasons unknown...
Wow, this was a great game. To sum it up lazily it plays like a cross between The Last of Us, [Prototype] and Mad Max with a little bit of World War Z thrown in. The Last of Us feel comes from the environment itself, the world building here is spot on. Despite its open world nature it comes close at times to the tightly designed areas of that level based masterpiece, this world feels logical, and that includes how the enemies operate. Like that other game the main enemy here are not zombies, but instead the other groups of human survivors, with bandits, rogue militia, and cultists the main threat encountered. The [Prototype] influence is slight, but mostly comes from the audio recordings discovered around the game world that share a similar serious vibe to the ones from that po-faced game. The Mad Max part comes from not only the look of the cultists (whose self inflicted injuries, and shaved heads reminded me a lot of the War Boys from that game), but also from how integral your vehicle is here. Both games start with the ideal version of your vehicle being stolen and broken down, with a lot of the R.P.G elements revolving around you buying better upgrades to repair it. Deacon's motorbike is essential for traversing the large open world, and as you progress it becomes faster, more durable, and able to hold more and more ammo. Finally World War Z is felt by the way the zombies operate.
Sunday, 2 June 2019
Date from Hell is the directorial debut of Texas based heavy metal frontman Ven Scott (Runescarred, ex-Dead Earth Politics). It takes a story that could have been a feature length and condenses it into twelve minutes without it seeming like anything has been lost.
Locals Susie (Ava L'Amoreaux) and Bobby (Samuel Brett Lee Howard) are on date night in the small town they live in. The two end up drunkenly breaking into an infirmary where they are shocked to discover a serial killer drifter who has murder on his mind. Things are not exactly what they seem though...
The inspiration for this was horror films of the 1980's and this can be seen from everything to the soundtrack, to the premise itself, as well as the lovely practical make-up and effects that also feature plenty of blood. For a short that was filmed over just three nights there is a lot of atmosphere here with no element of the plot wasted. The structure means a lot happens within the run time of the three act structure. I would say that due to later twists I had some confusion over earlier dialogue, which also includes the strange ending. However this twist was what Date from Hell was leading up to and it was executed in a satisfying way with some nice cinematography.
This was an entertaining short that was paced well and had some nice ideas to it, and had an authentic feel to the eighties inspiration. Maybe some of the performances were a little over the top but regardless this was an enjoyable twelve minutes of bloody mayhem. Date from Hell is currently being submitted to festivals across the U.S with the film coming to the online platform ALTER in September.