Tuesday, 30 July 2019

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

I'm writing this on a wet Tuesday evening. I love the rain, and it sure is preferable to the heat we have been having lately. As it dropped through my letterbox just the other day, I will start my saying Duncan P. Bradshaw's latest novel Cannibal Nuns from Outer Space! came out last week. His previous books of his I have read (Class Three, Class Four: Those Who Survive, and Chump) were all funny, as well as full of clever ideas so I assume his latest book I shall also love.

The video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has had a new map released for the Zombies mode. It is called Alpha Omega and is technically a remastered version of Nuketown Zombies. However that original map is just a tiny portion of this reimagined one that now includes streets around that original map, as well as a huge underground bunker area. As well as the many zombies enemies here also include Lightning Hounds (electrified versions of the normal Hellhounds), Nova 6 Bombers (mutated version of the Nova 6 Crawlers), and Jolting Jacks (another variant of the Crawlers, these ones able to shoot lightning balls.

New horror film Clown Motel: Spirits Arise features a performance from Beauty in The Suffering of their song 'Reveille' which takes place during a key scene. The film came out June 4th in the USA, and released in the UK on July 29th. It is about a group of ghost hunters that accidentally meet up at an abandoned motel that is said to be haunted by the souls of deceased clowns. The movie features Ari Lehman (Friday 13th), Tony Moran (Halloween), Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Chalet Brannan (Cyborg X).

Unveil the Strength (featuring former members of Five Finger Death Punch, Sacred Mother Tongue, Invidia, Flatline, Devolved, and Stratovarius) have released the music video for their single 'Hell's Never Over'. It originally premiered on Heart Support which is a place designed to bridge the gap for mental health in a relatable way that people and music fans can connect with.

Dark Wave trio Johnathan/Christian have released a new album titled Dark Hallways, and it is now streaming worldwide. This features seven songs dealing with themes 'of loss, uncertainty and the realisation of true vulnerability'. It includes interpretations of Pink Floyd's 'Nobody Home' and Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill'. The groups music is based on 80's Goth, Dark Wave and Romantic Death Rock.

In final music news for this month new Seattle Industrial band, Dracula Party have released a video for their song 'Trick or Treat' that is taken from their debut EP 'The Devil Wears a Mask'. The video was directed and edited by Dracula Party vocalist/lyricist, horror filmmaker Byron C. Miller (The Anatomy of Monsters). He wanted the video to feel like a modern successor to the Giallo films of the 1970's.

Hex Studios have announced news of their latest project For We Are Many, this is a demon themed anthology featuring  emerging filmmakers from around the world. This is to contain 13 shorts and features a host of horror icons such as Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser), and Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede II). Each story is based on a different demon, from the succubus to a Native-American demon that drives its victims to cannibalism. More information can be found at the Kickstarter page.

Another Kickstarter of note that is currently running is for horror film Walking Against the Rain. This is a monster movie set six months after a biblical plague has swept the world. Two strangers set out across the barren landscape in an attempt to find each other. This is to be directed by Scott Lyus (Order of the Ram, Silently Within Your Shadow). This is near the end of its campaign (which it has achieved), so to find out more and get in a final pledge check out the page here.

Shooting has wrapped on Kill Giggles that looks set to turn the table on clowns by having them be the target of a serial killer, rather than them be the aggressors. 148 scenes were shot over a period of 20 days in 36 locations. This stars Michael Ray Williams (Watch If You Dare) and Ellie Church (High on the Hog, Headless), and also features Vernon Wells, Felissa Rose and Judith O'Dea.

The official teaser trailer for found footage horror Human Hibachi has been released by Cerrito Productions. The synopsis being that a movie intended to be sold on the black market in Japan was taken by the authorities. The footage follows two couples whose birthday celebrations at a Japanese owned restaurant take a turn for the horrifying. The limited premiere for this is due in October later this year.

Frolic Pictures are set to release 20 new rare grindhouse double features on DVD. I have mentioned Frolic before and admit it is down to the great film titles that I do include them in my news post. So the double features are as follows: Game Show Models/CB Hustlers, Guess What We Learned in School Today/Poor Pretty Eddie, The Alchemist/The House by the Cemetery, Metamorphosis/The Uranium Conspiracy, Star Pilot/UFO Target Earth, Night Train to Terror/Legacy of Blood, The Thirsty Dead/The Vampire Happening, The Witches Mountain/Crucible of Horror, Haunts/The Hanging Woman, A Bell From Hell/Delirium, King of King Island/Gappa the Triphibian Monster, Keep My Grave Open/The Ghost Galleon, Funeral for an Assassin/Funeral Home, Deadtime Stories/Deadly Harvest, Cathy's Curse/Virus, Love Me Deadly/Mama Dracula, Lord Shango/Isle of the Snake People, Bail Out/The Big Fight, and last but not least Panic/The Forest. Phew, that was a long list!

In final news a new trailer has been released for Off Grid. This is a 23 minute supernatural post-apocalyptic thriller starring James Cosmo (Game of Thrones), Alison Steadman (Orphan Black), and Marc Baylis (Coronation Street).

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Dead Celebrities (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

At the same time I received a screener for the great 'found audio' The Ingress Tapes I also received a screener for another short horror from U.K director Michael Fausti, this one called Dead Celebrities that he also wrote. I was pretty confident I would also enjoy this and so it was with some joy that my assumption turned out to be correct.

Mick (Fausti) offers an explanation for just why so many celebrities have died in bathrooms to his hotel co-worker Joe (Mathew Bayliss). This explanation being secret rituals performed in order to attain fame and fortune, that was first discovered by director Tod Browning in the 1920's.

The whole idea behind this is plausible nonsense, and it was told in such an entertaining way. The short mainly consists of Mick recounting to Joe the background to the bathroom based ritual he has discovered, his narration set to a series of flashbacks that follow famous dead celebrities such as Lenny Bruce, Claude Francois, and Elvis Presley (all of these also played by Fausti). I loved that a quick Google search after watching this revealed every person Mick talks about actually were found dead in bathrooms in real life, that was a fun discovery. The whole narrated story reminded me a lot of the type of things author Robert Rankin would often write about in his surreal novels.

The very best thing about Dead Celebrities is Fausti who steals the show due to the character of Mick. The serious way this character talks no matter how ridiculous the topic, and his intense facial expressions were hilarious, I loved the inflection he put on certain words, and the way he would raise his eyebrows in tune with certain words. His deadpan delivery brought to mind Dr. Rick Dagless from Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Micks interactions with Joe led to some of the funniest lines set as a back and forth between the two.

There wasn't a single bad moment in the whole ten minutes of Dead Celebrities, the comedy was spot on, and it was helped immensely by the entertaining explanation given for just why so many famous people are found dead in bathrooms. This is held up by a great score that compliments the surreal story being told, as well as a nice grindhouse way of directing, complete with grainy footage, and lovely use of close-up, and fast effective editing with every shot feeling relevant. Somehow even better than The Ingress Tapes, check this out if you ever get the chance.


Friday, 26 July 2019

The Ingress Tapes (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

The Ingress Tapes is a short horror/crime film directed by Michael Fausti (Dead Celebrities). This is experimental, but in a different way to usual, with this feeling like found audio rather than found footage. It was filmed entirely on Super 8mm which just adds to the chilling feel of what is being described.

A tape player plays recordings of an interview with a cold blooded killer who describes in a matter of fact way the various murders he has done. This is presented in such a way as to make you question just what the circumstances were that led to the recording being done.

With grainy close up images of reels of tape playing, mixed in with grainy footage of the view from a train window, and old stairwells there technically isn't a lot to see here with the focus much more on the dialogue being spoken. There are no characters, the images only tie in tangentially to what is being spoken about, but this adds to the unsettling tone. It is the man's voice combined with what he is talking about that really adds the chill factor. He sounds like a typical man but speaks of killing children, random murder, as well as hired hits with a total lack of any sense of remorse for his actions. Rather than come across as monotone he instead sounds cheerful, proud of what does, and the times he laughs after recalling particular deaths somehow makes it all the more unsettling.

I really liked how this was shown, the tape player constantly stops and rewinds to earlier dialogue which means there are a variety of incidences that get spoken about. Each time the tape suddenly stops it was just another little jolt of uncomfortableness. The fact there is no explanation for where this recording came from, or who is doing it just makes this feel all the more authentic. It's like a Jam sketch if all traces of humour were removed to just leave the black underbelly. The Ingress Tapes does so lot with so little, a compelling dark short that just plain succeeds.


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Bed of Nails (2019) - Short Horror Film/Music Video Review

Composer/producer John Whitaker (1i2c) is back with another music video/horror film mash-up, this time Bed of Nails which is taken from the new album 'Special X'. His previous hybrid Zombie I reviewed back in March of this year, and enjoyed the combination of his pulsing music and good camera work.

A woman (Carys) runs into a field, pursued by masked figures who soon easily catch her. While this is happening a cavorting group of masked and hooded folk musicians dance into this and together they all restrain the poor woman within a memory foam mattress. Then the titular item is created.

The most striking part of Bed of Nails is the wild distorted colours that give everything the feel of an alien world. The woman, and the figures chasing her have a skin tone that I would describe as 'duck egg blue', while the fields and trees are all various shades of purple. This all gives a quite trippy visual effect that really completes this short. I did find the memory foam mattress to be a bit jarring though, with the fantastical costumes the characters are wearing, and the wild landscape, to then have a plain white mattress as the focal point was a bit off putting.

The music that accompanies this is 1i2c's usual droning, urgent beats that works so well in conjunction with what is occurring on screen. The musicians exaggerated dancing and playing of their instruments, and later their playful hammering of nails gave a fun vibe to this. Bed of Nails is another decent video from a director who can never be accused of not making shorts that almost demand instant replays to take in everything that is being shown, and I have to say, I do love those costume designs. Check it out here.


Monday, 22 July 2019

Blood Paradise (2018) - Horror Film Review

I do like it when films I cover in my monthly news round-up later on down the line get offered up for review. Such is the case with Swedish horror comedy Blood Paradise which I first wrote about back in November of last year. This was directed by Patrick von Barkenberg who also appears in a secondary role here, and it was written by both him and Andrea Winter (who stars in this).

After acclaimed best-selling crime writer Robin Richards's (Winter) latest book flops her publicist sends her away to the Swedish countryside hoping it will inspire her back to greatness. The location chosen for her is a dilapidated property on a farm that is owned by a creepy farmer. She soon finds that everyone around her in her new surroundings have their own oddities, from her driver Hans Bubi (Christer Cavallius) who turns out to be an obsessive fan, to the farmer's sinister sister and son, something really isn't right with the place and Robin starts to see the whole trip as a bad idea.

I really wanted to love Blood Paradise and at times it came so close to me feeling that way. However there are moments here that led to frustration with how the story was playing out and being told, though some of those might not even be the fault of the film at all. There is a mild slasher vibe going on, with it made clear not that long in that there is a killer on the loose. I liked how it wasn't immediately obvious who this killer was, and with every character Robin meets weird in their own way it was easy to believe it could have been any one of them. This straddles the line between being a comedy and a horror though which sometimes leads to a surreal mish-mash of the two genres that gave me a feeling of The League of Gentlemen. For the most part this is an English language film, but there are moments when characters speak exclusively in Swedish with no subtitles present. I feel a bit wary about mentioning those parts as I'm not sure if it was just the screener I was provided with that had no subtitles, or if it was the intention of the director to keep these few scenes subtitle free. This mainly came into play with a subplot involving Bubi and his psychotic plant obsessed wife. Despite not being able to understand what they were saying to each other I still felt it was easy enough to get the gist of it. This language barrier works later on when Robin is encountered with a character speaking in Swedish to her, it allows the viewer to identify more with the alienation she is feeling.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Tales of Frankenstein (2018) - Horror Anthology Film Review

Here at The Rotting Zombie anthologies are always welcome. It seems I say this every time I speak of them, but they usually never fail due to variety meaning at least one story is going to be entertaining enough for the trade off for life spent watching. I first heard of the award winning Tales of Frankenstein back in 2017 and have today had the opportunity to see it. Despite the tale of Frankenstein's monster being a close cousin of the zombie genre I have always felt the story never quite works in modern times, it seems best suited to the past. With this anthology there are four different stories, all taking place in different time periods. The stories are all taken from director and writer Donald F. Glut's book of the same name.

In modern day a Frankenstein's monster is exploring the ruins of a castle when he comes across a portrait of Victor Frankenstein. Each story then follows a different character who came into possession of this portrait. This wraparound story is very barebones, so much so that it only really shows the traditional creature mournfully growling at the portrait he finds. The same clips are also used for flashbacks in some of the other stories.
First is My Creation, My Beloved that takes place in 1887. The hunchback Dr. Gregore Frankenstein (Buddy Daniel Friedman); a relative of Victor had also been working on bringing the dead back to life. During his studies he had fallen in love with a female science correspondent, but due to her ill health the pair had never met, though she donated her brain to him to study once she had passed. With this brain he hopes to give her a second chance at life in a younger, healthier body.
So this one lasts for around twenty five minutes and gives a good first impression of the style this anthology is going for. This is set out in style to the classic horror films from the Hammer Horror era, characters ham up their lines and throughout there is a soundtrack that creates a dream like fairytale atmosphere. I enjoyed the mild twist towards the end of this, and I liked the interactions Gregore had with the local corrupt mortician. It was a bit of a superficial story though in how beauty is prided over everything else here.

Next up was Crawler From the Grave which takes place in 1910. Helmut Frankenstein (Len Wein - the creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine in his final film role before his passing) has recently died from a plague known locally as 'the grey death', but not before drinking a potion he had created that he hoped would grant him eternal life. In life his jealous neighbour, Vincent (John Blyth Barrymore)   had desired Helmut's prized jeweled ring and so hatches a plan to dig him up to take it, though unable to remove the ring he was forced to chop off the corpses hand, which turns out to have a life of its own.
This was my favourite of the four short films with the severed hand reminding me both of Evil Dead II, and of Thing from The Addams Family. This played out in a way that felt similar to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, recurring themes such as the neighbour thinking he can hear the beating heart of Helmut, and the guilt he experiences due to the crime he committed made this into a cautionary tale. It was almost ruined by a terrible looking CGI shot of the severed hand crawling across a white floor, it was obvious where the hand had been digitally cut off to give its severed look, while the blood that drips from it also looked bad.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Annabelle Comes Home (2019) - Horror Film Review

It turns out there was an installment of The Conjuring multiverse that I managed to miss (The Curse of La Llorona), not sure how that happened, I remember consciously not going to see it but no idea why! So Annabelle Comes Home (directed by Gary Dauberman) is the seventh in the series, the third film in the Annabelle series, and the sixth one out of the lot that I personally have seen. So obviously Annabelle started off as a spin off to The Conjuring. Annabelle was a misfire for me, though that is due to me expecting something different to what we actually got. I imagined a doll running around causing mischief, instead it is a demonic spirit that causes typical Paranormal Activity/Insidious style goings on. The prequel to this - Annabelle: Creation fared better as I knew what to expect. Now with Annabelle Comes Home we have a sequel to the mini story told about the doll in The Conjuring.

It is 1969 (allegedly) and is one year since the paranormal investigator couple Ed (Patrick Wilson - The Conjuring, Insidious) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga - The Conjuring, Godzilla: King of Monsters) have take possession of the cursed doll known as Annabelle, which, as Lorraine explains in the prologue (in which the couple are nearly killed by a runaway truck) is a beacon to spirits. The doll is kept in a locked room in the basement of their home in which everything evil they have defeated over the years is kept. Anyway the couple decide to head away on a trip and leave their young daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace - The Haunting of Hill House) in the care of teenage babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman - Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween). If that had been it then things would have turned out fine, however Mary's best friend Daniela (Katie Sarife - Supernatural) decides to visit the pair and it turns out she has an ulterior motive. Having recently found out about exactly what the Warrens do she has decided to find a way into their collection room to have a look around. In the process she ends up releasing Annabelle from the locked cabinet the doll had been kept in, and soon the Warren's house has turned into a place no one in their right mind would want to be...

Here at The Rotting Zombie I am all about lazy comparisons, and so to sum up this film it is basically that part in Ghostbusters when the Ecto Containment Unit gets shut down, and all the ghosts and ghouls escape, made into an entire film, but localised to a single dwelling. This also then makes it fit easily into my second comparison, that this is kind of like Thi13en Ghosts due to the amount of key spirits wandering around the hallways. For a film with 'Annabelle' in the title, and with a trailer that featured her heavily it was actually a nice surprise to see the doll wasn't actually in this too much. Sure she is an essential part, and is a catalyst for everything that occurs but she was just one of many spirits here. The doll looks as creepy as ever, and has some nice enough moments (including a part where her shadow starts changing into that of a demon) but she was hardly the highlight. Obviously she features a lot in the finale, and I have to say I did really like how this all ended.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Bit (2019) - Horror Film Review

I have never really minded the vampire genre of horror films, and it is one genre that has really benefited by getting with the times. As fun as the classic Dracula style stories are its when the mythos of the monster is brought into more modern times that the genre really shines. Films such as The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Stake Land even to an extent What We Do in the Shadows all take a look at just what sort of people these creatures would be nowadays. With a feminist angle to it Bit (directed and written by Brad Michael Elmore - The Wolfman's Hammer, Boogeyman Pop) feels very much of the time. Thankfully it never seeks to stuff its message down your throat but instead focuses on a smooth story.

18 year old Laurel (Nicole Maines - Supergirl) has headed to L.A for the summer to stay with her brother Mark (James Paxton - Boogeyman Pop) while she tries to work out just what she wants to do with her life. It is here that she catches the attention of the intense Duke (Diana Hopper - Goliath), and her all female gang. To Laurel's surprise she discovers that the girls are all vampires, and due to having a fondness for her, Duke decides to give her the choice to join them. All she has to do is follow the two fundamental rules - no glamouring other vampires, and no turning men.

This was a cool movie in that this was the intention it was going for. There is no end of stylish moments, whether it be the club the gang own that plays girl fronted punk music, or the great flashback sequence that shows Duke and her former master in a montage of sorts set during the 70's. These are self confident characters who feel very empowered, and also men hating in a way. Duke believes men would be too power hungry if they ever got to become vampires, and sees the perks of being one as a way to not only equal the sexes, but as a way to eventually put women on top, semi jokingly saying her goal would be to have every woman on Earth a vampire. Despite all this the film isn't preachy, it is more just the viewpoint of certain characters, which is counterbalanced by others, and by the fact that the vampires choose victims who they see as deserving of their justice, rather than indiscriminate killing. While all the gang seem to be gay, and with the character of Laurel being mentioned as trans in all the press for this (Maines herself is trans in real life) this wasn't a part that seemed integral to the story. It seemed more a cautionary tale about self involvement to the point of damaging those around you that actually care about you, and need you.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Mermaid's Song (2015) - Horror Film Review

Mermaid's Song (originally titled Charlotte's Song) is a Canadian indie horror from director Nicholas Humphries (Night of the Living Dead Mexicans, The One That Got Away). It is set out as a homage to Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and acts as a twisted sequel to that classic story.

This takes place in 1930's Oklahoma and is about a young teenage girl, Charlotte (Katelyn Mager - Supernatural, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) who unknown to herself is actually a half mermaid/half human. Her father, George (Brandan Taylor - Supernatural, Bate's Motel) runs a club in which his daughters perform, but which has fallen on hard times ever since the suicide of his wife some ten years past. A local gangster called Randall (Iwan Rheon - Game of Thrones, Inhumans) offers to help George with his finances, but his involvement leads to things getting worse for the family.

So, not much really happens at all in Mermaid's Song, and nearly the entire film takes place within the home of Charlotte. Despite this I never found myself bored with what was going on, I was entertained despite some issues I had. The illusion of being the 1930's was helped a lot by the limited location, as well as the costume designs, and the music itself which became a real highlight. The plot is limited in its scope. On the one hand you have the human side of the story that sees George seemingly forced into pimping out his daughters on the orders of Randall. On the other side you have a subplot about Charlotte discovering the powers she holds. For a film about a mermaid it was interesting how this more fantastical part was relegated to the smaller storyline.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Midsommar (2019) - Horror Film Review

Midsommar is the latest film from Ari Aster whose previous film Hereditary was touted at the time as being 'this generations The Exorcist. Well it certainly wasn't, but it was a very well made film full of great acting, directing and cinematography. I was excited to see Midsommar mainly due to the fantastic trailer. It's an example I wish more people would follow as it was not only superbly edited, but it also gave the tone for the movie without actually spoiling anything at all.

Christian (Jack Reynor - Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Dani (Florence Pugh - Malevolent) are in a relationship that has really ran its course, her boyfriend mainly staying with her out of a feeling of duty due to her anxiety problems. Dani's family are discovered dead in horrific circumstances not long before Christian was due to go on a holiday that he hadn't told her about with his college friends. These friends include Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) and Mark (Will Poulter - Black Mirror: Bandersnatch). Due to her intense grief at her loss he feels obliged to invite her along, not expecting her to say yes. Pelle was from a remote pagan community in Sweden and has invited his friends to attend the annual summer festival held there which includes a variety of pagan rituals. Initially these rituals appear odd and vaguely humorous to the visitors, but they soon start to take on a more disturbing tone, and the friends begin to regret ever coming.

So to lazily sum up Midsommar it is basically a Swedish The Wickerman. To be fair though that isn't a bad comparison to make. Both films feature a remote pagan community, both feature plenty of singing, and there are elements in terms of where the story goes that feels quite similar. This really was quite the experience, and at two and a half hours it was something I totally got sucked into. I also was in two minds as to my actual thoughts to it, I left the cinema not really sure if I didn't like it, or if I thought it was an amazing film. I'm veering towards the later quite heavily now. There are some brutally dark moments tucked away in here, not least the traumatic prologue that shows the aftermath of the tragic event that took Dani's family.  There are some very surreal moments, helped by characters frequently taking mushroom tea that adds to the strong dreamlike atmosphere of the land where the sun never sets, this includes what is probably the strangest sex scene I have ever seen in a movie. On that side of things this features both male and female full frontal nudity which is used within the context of the story rather than ever feeling like it was there for titillation. I would describe this as a disturbing film, yet not one that ever felt scary. Despite dark things going on there was never really a feeling of peril. This is helped in that much of the darkness that resides within the commune occurs off camera. On the surface (and on the screen) it is all joy and brightness, with the dark underbelly mostly unseen by both the protagonists and the audience until it's too late to escape.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Child's Play (2019) - Horror Film Review

Due to my car being out of action for a week I almost missed out on seeing this re-boot of the classic psycho doll series. Child's Play has been a series I have always had a lot of time for, and one of the few series where they have been able to go from mostly serious horror to pure comedy horror and still remain good. With this reboot (directed by Lars Klevberg - Polaroid) they straddle the line, while it is full of funny moments it also at least tries to throw up some genuine horror.

The re-boot takes place in a world that is more technologically advanced than ours. This is a world where a company named 'Kaslan' are the prominent manufacturer, they have everything from TV's and phones to self driving cars, and a more advanced version of 'Alexa' in the form of a walking, talking 'Buddi' doll that uses A.I learning to look after and assist children. The film starts with a disgruntled employee at a Buddi factory getting fired from his job. The last thing he does before he kills himself is turn off all the safety protocols on the particular doll he had been working on.
We then go to young single mum Karen (Aubrey Plaza - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Parks and Recreation) and her teenage son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman - Annabelle, Light's Out) who end up with this defective doll that gets named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill - Star Wars). With its machine learning limiters removed the doll comes to the decision that anyone who gets in the way of his and Andy's friendship deserves to die...

I had purposely avoided all trailers for this film and so I was interested to see just what changes would be made. The biggest by far is why the doll is evil. In the original it was a killer whose soul came to inhabit the Chucky doll. From the start this doll was evil as it was a killer controlling it. Here it instead all becomes a problem that is more sci-fi than paranormal, Chucky becomes evil due to the influences around it. It's A.I learning distorts its world view, so when Andy complains about his cat Chucky decides it needs to go. When Chucky sees Andy and his new friends - Pugg (Ty Consiglio - iZombie) and Falyn (Beatrice Kitsos - iZombie, The Exorcist TV series) laughing at brutal kills in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film it decides that violence is something that would please Andy. This is far less Annabelle, and far more The Toyminator. This technological angle is integral to the new vision as the 'cloud' allows Chucky to remotely control everything, from thermostats, to cars, drones, shutters, and even other Buddi dolls. It felt more in line with a Black Mirror episode in how it takes place in a world not to far into the future from ours.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Flesh Without Soul (2015) by Pochassic - Zombie Horror Book Review

Everytime I come to review an eBook I say pretty much the same thing; that I built up such a ridiculous backlog over the years that I am working my way backwards through it, as I figure the earlier authors and companies have given up on me. So that is how I came to be reading Pochassic's zombie novel Flesh Without Soul that I received a copy of way back in 2016. While it has taken me a long time to get around to it, it is something I am familiar with due to the enticing email header that catches my eye every time I go into my emails -  'a zombie apocalypse with a sequel proof ending'.

Pizza shop owner Kara is invited to go see her brother Michael who lives in a commune outside of the small town she lives in. Once there she is unexpectedly attacked and captured. It turns out Michael is in fact the crazed leader of a cult. He has created an airborne virus that turns its victims into ravenous ghouls, and that his followers have already gone out into the world and released it. At first Kara thinks all the news reports she is being shown are part of an elaborate plot by her brother to brainwash her, but it soon comes to dawn on her that what she is witnessing is actually the end of the known world...

Flesh Without Soul is one of the stranger zombie novels I have read, and I think a lot of that is both due to its pacing, as well as its relatively short length (clocking in at 166 pages). There were also a few character shifts throughout that gave the book a bit of a disjointed feel to it. There was overlap, almost like the baton was being passed on, but it felt like there wasn't really a primary protagonist, and after the first one there wasn't really much development with them. It was interesting in that the majority of the book takes place well away from all the action, taking place as it does in a Doomsday bunker. This gave a unique angle of passively watching the unfolding chaos without any particular threat.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Brightburn (2019) - Horror Film Review

From the very first moment I heard of Brightburn (directed by David Yarovesky) it sounded like something really interesting. The films plot came from the one single thought - what if Superman had been evil? Due to the intense similarities to that hero this feels like an 'elseworlds' origin story. I love superhero movies, so having that concept twisted into something that was genuine horror appealed to me.

Tori (Elizabeth Banks - The Hunger Games trilogy) and her husband Kyle (David Denman - The Office) desperately wanted a child, and so when a strange meteor crashlands on their farm bearing with it a baby boy they decide to raise him as their own, rather than report this to the authorities. Twelve years later and the boy, that they named Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn - Avengers: Endgame) is celebrating his birthday. However it is at this time the craft that brought him to Earth starts to send out a signal that reveals to Brandon what his true purpose in life is, as well as reveals the very special, and very dangerous powers he has...

What I loved about Brightburn was her far they go with the idea of an evil Superman. This is very much an origin story, taking place around Kansas so there is focussed on the one small area of the world. I liked how bleak and dark this was, once the plot starts moving there are no moments of levity. The awakening of Brandon's powers can be seen as a contrast with becoming a teenager. Where before he was bright(burn) and happy, he has changed into someone sullen and rude, who just so happens to be able to melt peoples faces off with eye beams. Usually creepy kids irritate me no end, The Prodigy earlier in the year being a prime example. Here though Dunn gives a one note performance that works. Once he has awakened he realises he is literally better than everyone mentally and physically and acts with a disdain for one and all. While he does make excuses and tries to hide what he has become there is no fake emotion to go with that. He seems almost sociopathic in that there seems to be little understanding for the consequences of his actions. On the flip side of that though I could never really tell if the intention was that Brandon did care about some of the characters here, at least a little bit, or if even those closest mean nothing to him anymore. The other actors all do fine jobs also, as is usually the way the growing up of Brandon is shown via a quick montage and so you never really get a proper sense of his parents love for him. It was great to see Matt Jones (Breaking Bad) as a side character, he did comic relief well.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Canine (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Canine, directed and written by Sean Richard Budde (Machine Baby) is a micro short that clocks in at just under five minutes in length. Despite this it manages to cover a lot of ground with a lot of different things going on. It was nominated for both 'Best Midnight Short' and 'Best Recurring Nightmare' at the 2018 Nightmares Film Festival.

Ira Amyx (Shameless) stars as Earl; a man in the desperate search for his missing dog. As he runs around the streets some good samaritans offer to give him a lift, which may turn out to be quite the mistake...

Despite the short run time Canine felt almost like two interconnected shorts. The first two minutes perhaps my favourite, Earl running through the dark streets as urgent synth based hammering music plays was quite involving. Then the moment when the shift happens and you realise something different is going on...was just so well done. The second part is almost the polar opposite, taking place in daylight in a fixed location. It was here when I started to become a little lost as to what was really going on. Even at one point I thought maybe the dog itself was able to brainwash people, but it comes to be that while the short is titled Canine, and does feature a dog as the focal point of every event occurring this is all a red herring as to the true force here. I never really understood the motivations of this central force though and so felt a little bit confused.

While the story itself wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped there are some really nice moments here. Amyx was a great choice for the main lead and had some nice facial expressions. The cinematography, editing and directing were all lovely to see, especially liked a scene that involved a leash. The seemingly random actions of Earl were a bit abrasive, but the surreal nature was a bit enticing. Canine is currently available to watch on Bloody Disgusting's World of Death - June 2019, which I shall include below.


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Silent Panic (2018) - Thriller Film Review

I found the idea of director and writer Kyle Schadt's (Sunland) thriller Silent Panic to be a good one. The concept is relatable in the way that it is something that in the wrong circumstances could technically happen, and so I found myself constantly not only thinking what I would have done, but also feeling the same guilt, and gut churning anxiety about the events that unfold. This was were the problem for me lay though, as what the characters do is so opposite of what I would have done myself that I just became more and more annoyed by their actions.

Eagle (Sean Nateghi), Bobby (Joseph Martinez - Mega Python vs. Gatoroid), and Dominic (Jay Habre) are three friends who have gone away on a camping trip. Upon returning to Eagle's car they are shocked to discover a corpse has been dumped in the boot. In the past Eagle spent a year in prison for a crime he didn't commit and so he is very hesitant to call the police for fear they will think he was responsible. The trio decide that at least for the moment they aren't going to tell anyone about what they have found, but soon find their communal secret tears their worlds apart.

The idea of a group of friends trying to figure out what to do with a dead body isn't new (The Upper Footage comes to mind as one such example), but the fact that it is a random body, and something they themselves have had no involvement with prior to the discovery is new. While I had a lot of issues with the middle act I did think Silent Panic had both a strong start, and a strong finish to it. The fact that Eagle has no trust in the police is a good reasoning for the initial refusal to contact the authorities, yet it soon becomes a ridiculous crutch that is there just to drag along the almost farcical storyline. The whole meaty middle part of this felt like a plot from a sitcom, yet is played seriously. A prime example is when Eagle desperately cycles to the local shops, all to stop his girlfriend from opening the boot of the car to put her shopping away. Eagle becomes one of the most irritating leads in recent memory, his plan is to go into complete denial about the situation he is in. Watching his life fall apart gave me some satisfaction as he was the absolute worst. For this type of film to work you have to have some identity with the leads but his actions were so opposite of mine that I could feel myself getting annoyed.