Saturday, 31 August 2019

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

Yet another month, and yet another round-up of all the horror news I have received this month. I'm getting towards the end of a rather dull week off of work, though still plan to get two more cinema trips for the couple of horrors that are out at the moment, as well as a birthday party I completely forgot about, which is happening as I type! It is a trailer heavy post this month, which was a pain as YouTube no longer works on my PC for some reason, I shall have to look into fixing that.

Last mentioned a year ago, Danish zombie film Escaping the Dead is going to be heading to North America with a release date of 1st October. This horror was written, produced and directed by Martin Sonntag and features a large cast of over 150 zombie actors, as well as Lloyd Kaufman and Kim Sonderholm (Harvest, Lucid). Escaping the Dead can be preordered here.

Indican Pictures are set to release 6 Hot Chicks in a Warehouse this September, which comes from director Simon Edwards (Blaze of Glory). In this action horror a group of female models are invited to the studio of photographer Adrian. However it turns out the man is quite insane and kidnaps the women with the intention of forcing them to fight each other to the death. This is due for release on 3rd September.

Also coming from Indican Pictures is Perfect Skin, a horror thriller from director Kevin Chicken and writer Dusan Tolmac. This is about a crazy tattoo artist who kidnaps a young Polish woman for his next experiment. This stars Richard Brake (3 From Hell, 31), Natalia Kostrzewa (The Looking Glass) and Jo Woodcock, and comes to DVD on 10th September.

Hex Studios (Lord of Tears, The Black Gloves) really love their Owlman creation, and they love making prank videos of him scaring unsuspecting members of the public. They have recently released a new prank video, the latest victims including a pizza delivery man, a plumber, and a clown.

Shudder and Terror Films have released a sneak peek clip from the third film in the Hell House LLC series - Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire. This movie is set one year after the events of the second movie and sees a billionaire buying the titular cursed property as a place to hold his popular interactive show 'Insomnia'. The film comes to Shudder later this year, with the first two entries already on the streaming platform. Fingers crossed that this re-captures the magic of the first film in the series!

The latest film from Dakota Ray (American AntichristThe Acid Sorcerer) titled The Dark Days of Demetrius is due out in September. This one is about serial killer Demetrius (Ray) who has gained a kind of stardom from live streaming the murder of his victims online. Ray's movies always have a feeling of bleak nihilism to them, so I expect this will carry on this tradition. At some point in the next few weeks I shall be putting up a review of this one, so check back for that. Check out the trailer for it in the meantime here.

The final news for this month concerns horror film Killer Therapy which comes from Barry Jay. This tells the story of a disturbed man seeking revenge, whether justified or not on the family that is scared of him, and the many therapists who failed to cure him. The cast includes Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead, Friday 13th Part VI) whose appearance here marks his return to a leading role. This movie also features PJ Soles (Halloween, Carrie), Elizabeth Keener (The L Word), Ivy George (Big Little Lies) and Michael Qeliqi. Killer Therapy is currently in post-production and is due to premiere on the film festival circuit later this year.

Friday, 30 August 2019

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

Observer is a game I have wanted to play for years, and in fact I have owned it for years. However every single time I have gone to play it something came up that prevented me from doing so, really has been strange the amount of times that has happened. Anyway, with a week off work I decided to finally plug myself into this cyberpunk horror.

The game takes place in 2084 in a dystopian future in which a global digital plague named the nanophage has killed thousands upon thousands of  augmented people. This resulted in a global conflict between the superpowers of the East and West which wiped them out. In Poland a mega corporation called Chiron took over the running of the country. You play as Daniel Lazarski (voiced by Rutger Hauer), an Observer based in Kraków. Observers are a special branch of the police force who have the ability to hack into peoples brain implants for interrogation purposes. One night you receive an urgent call from your estranged son Adam asking for help. You track him to a run-down apartment building in the Class-C part of the city (the poorest area). Arriving in his flat you discover a headless corpse, then before you are able to request assistance the whole apartment building is put into lockdown, with communication to the outside world cut off. Trapped inside with a killer on the loose you must investigate to discover exactly what has occured.

Some forms of media I find really affect me, and usually it is when situations match up with my experiences in real life. Being an introvert, and with my previously mentioned week off work I have become a bit isolated and kind of a shut-in. So to then play a paranoid psychological horror that takes place in a building under lockdown I become to feel like I was one of the tenants locked in their flats, and that any moment Daniel Lazarski was going to come knocking at my door. It also doesn't help that my first name is the same as his, on more than one occasion forgetting this I was perturbed by a character speaking to me by name! Observer is a hallucinogenic, technophobe first person horror game in which nothing is ever as it really seems.This bears a lot of similarities with other games of its type. It covers such topics as the underwater terror that was Soma did, but in a setting that felt more like Deus-Ex. There is no combat, I would use the term 'walking simulator' but that always sounds like an insult. On occasion there are stealth sections that pop-up but these are few and far between. For the most part you are walking around the claustrophobic maze like corridors of the apartment building, going door to door, speaking to the apartments residents through distorted, hazy video projectors.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Riley Was Here (2018) - Short Zombie Horror Film Review

It's getting to the point that whenever I am contacted about a new film on the online video platform Alter I just know it is going to be good. Riley Was Here (directed and written by Mike Marrero and Jon Rhoads) is an Alter exclusive that came to their channel on August 14th. It also features zombies, so of course is a perfect fit for a review here.

In this short zombie apocalypse has been and gone, but for the survivors it can be hard to move on having lost loved ones in the chaos. A young man named Junior (Julio Trinidad) arrives at the home of Raquelle (Elena Devers), who provides a special service to the right clientele. A way to see what it feels like to temporary see things from the side of the infected...

Riley Was Here is quite a low key piece, yet manages with a cast of just two to really create a feeling of loss and sorrow. I enjoyed the build-up of just what was going to happen. Initially things appear straight up surreal, Junior in just his underpants being ordered to roll around on a child's bed, as Raquelle, wearing a biohazard suit coldly watches. Soon it becomes clear where this is going. By the time it does get to its conclusion you have a good grasp of both the characters motivations, they are both suffering and both see release from different sides of the same coin. The quiet pace of this creates a feeling of sadness which hides the dark direction this ends up going with. This works so well as a short, with the cautionary tale being paced so well.

A zombie short with a difference, but exploring topics that all too often are brushed over. This may be a little too uneventful for some, but this fifteen minutes is worth watching all the way to the end. Riley Was Here is free to watch on Alter so check it out for yourself.


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Urban Fears (2019) - Horror Anthology Film Review

It was only back in April that I watched Nicholas Michael Jacobs found footage torture film Night, and now he is back with a new film, an anthology of interconnected stories called Urban Fears. As before Jacobs is involved in so much of the creation of this. As well as director, writer, producer, editor, composer he also helped with the cinematography and acts in this one. Also like his previous film it appears that he had a lot of help from family members with the credited cast including five different actors with the surname Jacobs (of course it could be coincidental). I made it clear during my review of Night that I didn't like that particular sub-genre of horror, with this one though, I do have a soft spot for anthologies.

It seems the remit for Urban Fears was to display that while most horror films occur in suburban areas, or more remote places, that urban areas, such as the city centre shown here could also be host to horror stories. There are four different stories here all taken place over one night. In one a young girl sees a post on her social media feed of a spooky girl (Gianna Jacobs - Night) with a warning that if she doesn't share the post she will die. In another a young thief encounters a silent masked man who begins a relentless pursuit. The third story has a girl house sitting, who has been warned not to open a certain door in the basement. Curiosity getting the better of her she accidentally releases a psychotic doll. Finally these dangers from the different stories all come together for one poor soul.

So there are several different ways to show an anthology, the main ones being either to have a wraparound story (Weird Fiction), or to have interconnected stories (Trick 'r Treat). I find the later much more involving when done correctly and so it was nice to see that implemented here. There was nice overlap with the next story following on chronologically from the previous one and often including mild interaction, such as a character witnessing the end of the previous story, or getting contacted in some way. The masked killer for instance with the exception of the short prologue story manages to appear in some form or another in each of the tales, with the other perils also getting cleverly inserted in ways that don't seem obvious to begin with.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Church (2018) - Horror Film Review

Oh man, I had high hopes in my head for Dom Frank's indie horror The Church. I liked the idea behind it and discovering that the fantastic Bill Moseley (Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil's Rejects) had a starring role in it I expected great things. Despite a slow start I was ready to give it a fair shot, however I soon discovered a series of glaring faults that made me unable to see this as anything more than a missed opportunity.

Moseley stars as Pastor James whose church is in a neighbourhood that is being brought up by rich land developer Andrei (Daniel Wyland). Eventually James is given an offer he can't refuse, with him and the church committee deciding to sell his family church. However during the final meeting to sign away the property something strange happens. Everyone finds themselves trapped in the building, unable to escape, and one by one they are dragged away to some sort of Hell dimension where judgement is passed down upon them. It is possible that God is not happy that his place of worship is going to be demolished...

Even after the prologue in which two small time crooks vanish into thin air after entering the titular church I had hoped this would be a decent horror. It takes its time to get going with the horror not starting in earnest until around the thirty five minute mark. Sadly this was where the movie fell apart due to some terrible looking CGI. The CGI ruins this film, being a utter distraction each time it rears its ugly head. From people 'floating' in the air, to digital looking smoke and fire effects the reliance on technology beats every ounce of fright out of this. To have a finale that features prominently a floating fireball that looks like something from 90's kids adventure game show Knightmare meant that I just couldn't take this seriously. It is a shame as I did like the idea of having God as the antagonist, whether that turned out to be true or not.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Marvel Zombies: Dead Days (2009) - Zombie Graphic Novel Review

As may become apparent, I am on a bit of a Marvel Zombies kick at the moment, working my way through the parts of this long series that are contained in graphic novels. I started my reading of this with Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness. Dead Days is more of a tricky beast though. The actual comic Dead Days was released in 2007, however the book Dead Days is made up of quite a few different zombie related stories that were released over a period of a few years. Due to this sometimes this book can have a bit of  a disjointed feel to it.

Starting off with the titular Dead Days itself then. This is a prequel to the whole Marvel Zombies series. I expected it to show the actual outbreak but instead it begins with a variety of top tier super heroes already infected, going on to show the spread of the virus to others, most notably the Fantastic 4, the X-Men, as well as the main undead cast of Marvel Zombies. This was written by Robert Kirkman, who of course is the writer of The Walking Dead. As I said in a previous review I enjoyed how this matches up with other stories going on. The best example being Spider-Man who tells M.J and Aunt May that he was attacked by Colonel America which matches up with that actual attack we see in Army of Darkness. This whole comic takes place during the events of Army of Darkness.

The next big story here is made up of Ultimate Fantastic 4 issues #21-23 and takens place between the end of Army of Darkness and the first Marvel Zombies book. In another reality there is no undead apocalypse, this versions Mr Fantastic has been working with a version of himself from a different reality to construct a device that can transport people between dimensions. Little does he know that it is all a trick by zombie Mr Fantastic to get his ghouls a new world to devour. Realising too late what is actually going on he must work together with some unlikely non-infected allies from zombie world to remedy his huge error. All this dimension shifting stuff makes my head fizz, but it was a pretty cool story. Due to Dead Days being a compilation there are plenty of references to events and people that I had no clue about.

Next up is Ultimate Fantastic 4 issues #30-32 which serves a sequel to the previous story in the book, and takes place not long after Marvel Zombies 1. In the alternate dimension the zombified Fantastic 4 have been kept imprisoned by the non infected Fantastic 4. A event that was started in a story in between issue #23 and #32 means that the dimension jumping device that had been created might just be needed in order to save this world. This was another good story, at least on the zombie side of things. However I felt there was quite a bit of knowledge missing, and I found interactions between characters, such as Doctor Doom and Fantastic 4 to be a bit confusing.

The final story is made up of issues #28-30 of Black Panther and sees yet another reality. Black Panther, Storm, The Human Torch and The Thing from the mainstream Marvel reality find themselves transported through time and space to a Skrull planet, just as the surviving super zombies of Marvel Zombies 1 arrive to consume it. This was the weakest of the stories, mainly being that being from the main Marvel reality there was no chance of the heroes being in any real danger. Add to that that the super zombies are as intact as they can be when Marvel Zombies 2 begins and this is a low key story with zero stakes. Also I didn't really like the more cartoony art style here, everything was a bit too bright and colourful for my liking.

I'm glad I read Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, and it is cool how everything links up. However as a stand alone title it doesn't hold up, it only works within context of the greater series. Even with a page of text in between the stories explaining what has happened this still feels like large parts of the plot are missing. This becomes a nice side piece, but I wouldn't say it is essential reading.


Sunday, 25 August 2019

Horror House (2019) - Horror Anthology Show Review

Horror House is a web based horror show that features a variety of short Australian horror films, and which is hosted by Count Funghoula (David Black) and Mistress Boobiyana (Tritia Devisha). The first season is made up of six episodes, each roughly 25 minutes long.

So to start with is the hosted format. I found the wraparound sections featuring the two hosts to be a bit random. The humour is often crude, and there aren't really any plotlines, but the format is helped a lot by canned laughter and other fake audience effects that add a lot of charm. While it was all a bit nonsensical the makeup of the two was good, and I admit I did like all the random violence Boobiyana causes to Funghoula. Plus I found all the bad stuff that happens to Funghoula to be consistently funny. I felt that it might have worked better had the hosts introduced each short, or commented on them afterwards, as these shorts felt unconnected.

So each of the six episodes mostly has three shorts and one music video. The music videos are all by Darkness Visible (that Black is a member of) and is all horror tinged music. Some, like 'Darkness Visible' in episode one, and 'Eat Me' in episode five tell little stories in their videos. It was nice that the final episode featured 'Inquisition' which it turns out is the music used for the Horror House theme during the wonderfully animated intro credits. I've seen a few Australian short horrors over the years and so was interested to see what this show would come up with.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness (2007) - Zombie Graphic Novel Review

Many years ago I read the first couple of Marvel Zombies graphic novels but never got around to reading the rest, as they were quite expensive at the time. Due to this I stopped after the second one. After seeing a zombie Iron Man appear in a hallucination in Spider-Man: Far From Home I came to be thinking of this series once again, and was pleased to see that the books were all pretty cheap now, and that there were a load more released since I last checked out the titles. Marvel Zombies is a standalone series that takes place in a reality where a zombie plague has decimated Earth. I've owned Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness since before my blog was even a glint in my eye, so have revisited as part of my reading of the Zombies series. Interestingly within the context of the series it is canon as it is linked up to take place around the same time that Dead Days (the prequel to Marvel Zombies) did. I shall be reviewing Dead Days later as three of the four stories in the collection take place after this novel.

Ash Williams (from The Evil Dead) falls out of a portal and lands in a world that looks very similar to his own, similar that is apart from the fact in this world super heroes exist. Unfortunately for Ash his arrival is not long before a catastrophic zombie plague is unleashed, super heroes being super heroes try to fight this outbreak but soon they are overwhelmed and transformed into flesh hungry beasts who in record time decimate the world thanks to their super powers. It doesn't help that ths virus only affects people with powers. Teaming up with surviving super heroes Ash goes on a desperate quest to locate the Necronomicon which he believes is the cause of all the madness...

The idea of zombies in the world of Marvel is one which has never got boring to me over the years. Weirdly Ash is a perfect fit in this world, coming across as an oddball but losing none of his extreme confidence. A lot of the humour comes from his interactions in this place, not knowing who anyone is. For instance when seeing Daredevil fighting Thunderball he assumes the guy dressed like a demon is the bad one so helps defeat him! His lack of knowledge of who anyone is leads to plenty of fun moments, such as the various insults he throws at Doctor Doom, and how he refuses to become The Punisher's sidekick to hilarious effect. It is so much fun seeing all the various heroes and villains of the Marvel world turned into corpses, more so now that I have seen ten years of Marvel films and actually know who a lot of these characters are, when back when I first read this I only knew the main ones. A book in which a zombified Howard the Duck appears can never be something bad!

Unlike the main titles in the series this obviously focuses on Ash. Originally this was a five issue run with a lot happening. The story itself is fitting for Ash and leads to a great resolution which is as silly as you would expect. His journey sees him for the most part not really getting involved in the main story, his interactions with the undead are usually one on one with the main zombies getting fleeting appearances. More impressive to me was just how this works with Dead Days. For instance in that it started with an infected Spider-Man returning to his home. In this you actually see how he got infected, matching up with what he said in that other comic about how it happened. I loved how care had been made to have this fit in coherently.

I loved this graphic novel at the time and I still do. It carries the persona of Ash perfectly, and manages to naturally blend the humour effortlessly in. This is all helped by some great artwork and colouring. As a hardback this feels like quality. Marvel Zombies is a great idea in itself, adding the Evil Dead world into the mix was genius.


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Same Old, Same Old: A Short and Strange Story by B.Sides (2019) - Short Horror eBook Review

This is a two fold 'forgive me' introduction. Firstly I wrote my notes for this review while on a lunch break at my day job so they are kinda hard to decipher. Secondly, as always I'm not that great at writing book reviews. Now as far as I'm aware B.Sides novella, Same Old, Same Old: A Short and Strange Story is the first short story I have reviewed on my blog.

Terry works for a local children's centre and due to constant financial difficulties he is always out in his neighbourhood going door to door looking for handouts. One dark and rainy night, looking to get his donation collecting over with quickly he chooses the nearby poor Shady Oaks apartment complex rather than heading to a more affluent part of town. While there he discovers an apartment that has its door wide open. Curiosity getting the better of him he enters, and sees something most unexpected.

I went headfirst into this book and so managed to miss the fact it was only eighty pages long. It is a good thing then that this is a well rounded story that was well written, and so descriptive that even now some days after reading it I can picture in my mind the apartment complex Terry finds himself in. I love the rain and it usually adds to anything it appears in. Here is no different. The minor twist here is that it is basically Lovecraftian horror blended with comedy. I liked how there was a transition from a feeling of horror, with Terry ending up trapped inside a closet, hiding from the owner of the apartment, to a much more humorous piece that changed tracks with the arrival of a spatula.

The pacing of Same Old, Same Old was tight enough that I was kept involved from beginning to end. Even with the arrival of a more light hearted tone I was still a bit unsure how it would all turn out. The interactions between the various characters, and the inner monologue of Terry led to some funny, as well as tense moments. H.P Lovecraft is the writer of the most genuinely scary stories out there, so I will always have time for anything that incorporates his mythos of ancient Gods. From beginning to end this flowed along at an enjoyable pace with there being nothing that felt unneeded. I found myself really quite enjoying Same Old, Same Old, worth a read.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Stranger Things: Season 2 (2017) - Horror TV Show Review

With the recent arrival of season 3 of Stranger Things it felt time to go back to the show, having only seen the first season. Now I absolutely loved that one, yet after watching the first episode of the second back in 2017, my best friend (who I watch the show with) decided she didn't want to see anymore. Well she has the proverbial egg running down her face as it unsurprisingly turns out now we have returned that Stranger Things did continue to be excellent, with us blasting through the eight episodes in just over a week. There is bound to be some spoilers for the previous season here as an obvious warning.

The show picks up around a year after the events of the first season, with it coming up to the anniversary of Will (Noah Schnapp) getting rescued from the mysterious twisted mirror reality known as 'the upside down'. He has frequently been experiencing flashbacks of being back in the place, which feel all too real, though his doctor at the Hawkins National Laboratory assures him, his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder - Alien: Resurrection), and sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour - Hellboy, Suicide Squad) that it is nothing to be worried about.
During the past year the psychic girl known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown - Godzilla: King of the Monsters) thought lost in the upside down has in fact been rescued by Hopper and is staying with him in a secluded cabin, but her frustration at being so isolated leads her to want to go and discover her past.
While this is all going on the rest of the gang of school friends, that includes Mike (Finn Wolfhard - It), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and newcomer Max (Sadie Sink) discover a small creature that may have come from the upside down. Then elsewhere, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and her boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery) seek to get closure for the parents of Barb who was killed in the events of a year ago.

Much like the first time around there are several different storylines going on that all eventually meet up. However this time around things are more fragmented with the core cast of the gang spending much time apart. The focal point is Will discovering a giant smoke monster (later called 'The Mind Flayer') that intends to invade the real world. This part takes place mostly separate from everything else with only Mike really being a part of this in terms of the kids. This section is by far the most horror focussed and features possession, huge underground tunnels, and lots of 'demodogs'. Eleven was an integral character before, and despite having a complete standalone story for much of the season she still shines as someone essential to everything. The season opens with a slightly off putting out of place car chase in a city somewhere, with characters we don't know. Her journey eventually has her meet up with these new people in Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister. This episode felt so different to anything that had come before and while it was of course great it did feel a bit apart from anything else.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Curse of Valburga (2019) - Horror Film Review

I think it was back in April of this year that I first mentioned the comedy horror The Curse of Valburga. The film is from director Tomaz Gorkic, whose first debut feature length Killbillies was said to have been Slovenia's first ever horror film. Like that, this too is set in Slovenia, though exchanging the vast mountains of that one for a dilapidated mansion, about as opposite as you can go in terms of setting.

Hoping to make some easy money, Marjan (Jurij Drevensek - Killbillies) comes up with a plan with his brother Bojan (Marko Mandic) and a mutual friend to scam tourists by giving them a fake tour of a mansion with a sordid past in Valburga. The mansion was said to once be home to bloodthirsty Baron Valburga who was brutal to the peasants he ruled over, and rumoured to be the cousin of Count Dracula. The plan seems to be working, with Marjan turning up at the property with an eclectic bunch of tourists that include among them goths, drunks, pornstars and criminals, all of which have ulterior motives for joining the tour. It is once they are in the mansion that things begin to go wrong, a family of cannibals happen to live in the basement, and they see the group as easy food...

Much like Wicked Witches that I saw the other week, The Curse of Valburga is stupid, switch your brain off at the door fun. Characters are not much more than stereotypes and do little to endear themselves. There isn't really a main protagonist, maybe Marjan who certainly gets more screen time than any other. For all this lack of meat I was surprised how long it takes for the action to begin. There was a nice twenty minute prologue of Marjan and his brother and friend drinking in a bar, then it is around forty minutes in the horror begins in earnest. There were a few little subplots going on, such as Vasily (Luka Cimpric) hoping to make a porn film, and a man hoping to find a mythical object said to be able to summon a demon. None of the side plots were too involving, and the main story just has people running around the vast empty mansion trying to find a way to escape.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Forced Entry (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

Forced Entry is a 24 minute horror that was directed by Texan based filmmakers K.M. Jamison and James Bett Jr. (who also co-stars). Now the subject matter of random brutal murder isn't a favourite of mine, but compared to similar films within the subgenre this short sits in, such as the unpleasant Headless this comes out a lot better. This too is a nasty film that left me feeling unclean, but I also appreciated how this was created.

Two masked psychopaths; Arthur (Tom Lodewyck) and Donovan (Bett Jr.) spend their days randomly targeting young women, capturing, torturing, and then killing them. This short almost feels like 'a day in the life' of, though due to the way it is edited it could also be seen as a collection of even shorter stories within the short.

So, Forced Entry is set out like an exploitation film from the eighties, so this includes lots of violence and murder squeezed into its run time. I liked the editing here, and the way it is set out in general. For example, the intro credits come three minutes in, after a prologue that sets the tone for what is going to transpire. Namely lots of innocent female victims being terrorised, lots of blood, and some nudity. Going back to Headless, that loved showing its violence in close up detail. With this, while violence is shown on screen (such as knife stabs and cuts), it is also implied quite a bit, but remains just as powerful. My favourite example of this was a shot showing a fleeing victim coming face to face with one of the killers, then it cuts to the victims bloodied corpse laying on the ground. I really liked transitions such as these. The fact that this is a homage to old films also helps scene changes with it being made to look like parts of the film are missing, or having the film cut to static.

Sticking to its roots the victims are nearly all nameless and have little to them. They are lambs for the slaughter to the two psychos who are the focal point of this. Arthur is quite chatty and came across like a cross between Heath Ledger's Joker, and Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of Alex in the classic A Clockwork Orange. Arthur is the larger of the duo, he does speak as well, possibly the dynamic of the two would have been better if he had been a silent character, then they would have represented two different types of home invasion antagonist.

While I didn't like the subject matter covered I loved how this was all put together. There were so many little elements I enjoyed, from the way the camera lovingly pans up and down the corpses revelling in the blood and body trauma, to the jump cuts, the editing, and end credit footage of serial killer testimonies. This was an unpleasant film whose plot felt aimless, and it certainly seems misogynistic, but then it is an ode to exploitation films and so it needed those elements. To say I enjoyed this short wouldn't be completely true, yet Forced Entry was a film I'm glad I watched.


Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Killing Death by I.D Russell (2017) - Comedy Horror Book Review

A few months ago, back in June I reviewed Ian Russell's indie comedy horror/crime film The Killing Death, and mentioned in the review that there had been a book written. Well since then I have now read that book which serves both as a novelisation of the movie, as well as a sequel to that story all rolled into one. I nearly always say this when reviewing books - I'm not great at reviewing books! I shall try my best though.

Roughly half of The Killing Death follows the events of the film. There is a serial killer loose in River City, one whose M.O is collecting a different body part from each of his victims. By the start of the book this killer has been captured with recollections by both the killer, and the detective duo, consisting of seasoned Frank Malone, and rookie Jimmy Hooper showing how he came to be captured. The second half of the novel takes place after this with a new and even more dangerous foe for the men to battle against.

It's hard to talk about the story too much as there is quite a nice twist in the middle which completely changes the tone of the story. If the first part was an indie horror (as it indeed was) the second half feels more like a Hollywood blockbuster in terms of the sheer scope of it. I wondered how the novel would expand on the characters and it actually does cure some of the issues from the film. With Chicago Phil in particular you get a lot more insight into what he is hoping to achieve, as well as getting backstory that led him to become who he was, whether justified or not. This was all good as he never really got much opportunity in the film to be a more rounded character. What I also liked was how the jokes got ported over. In particular there was a moment in the film where I felt the comedy didn't work, a silly scene that was like something out of Scooby-Doo as characters opened and closed doors in a hallway, appearing in different places each time. Here that same scene becomes hilarious due to the bewildered thoughts of Jimmy as he is experiencing this. This isn't transposed verbatim from the film, with some of the more amusing dialogue exchanges missing, but there is of course a lot added. Again there are some moments that don't work too well, an early part involving a rerun of Jeopardy was more confusing than amusing as one example.

The Killing Death is an easy read, and also written in a style that I enjoyed. Not too surprising that this was decent as it turns out as well as director Ian Russell is also an author. He said that due to being published ten years after his film that he was able to expand what was on screen, and with this he was successful. Both parts of the book were enjoyable, though there is a definite shift at the halfway mark that makes it almost seem like two separate stories featuring the same characters rather than one whole. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though, it was fun seeing what happened after the film ends. The humour is reduced a little in the second part but there are still funny moments, and I did like the shift from crime novel to something a little bit more supernatural feeling.

I thought the film The Killing Death was a fun watch, but the book adaptation is even better. With a clear easy way of writing this was something I frequently couldn't put down. It does build on the ideas of the film, while the new stuff is nearly as strong. A book I would recommend even if you haven't seen the film.


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Attack on Titan: Season 3 (2018-2019) - Anime TV Series Review

I've had this review of the third season of Attack on Titan written for a long time, just never seemed the right time to stick it up, but here it is today. The second season of Attack on Titan was just twelve episodes in length, but as I said then it really was quality over quantity with some of the finest story moments I have experienced in that sort of media. With this new season they did a The Walking Dead and split the season in half, the first twelve episodes released in 2018, with the final ten coming out this year. I really should have made notes or something, but alas I didn't, and so my memories of that first half are a bit sketchy. I will try and keep spoilers from previous seasons to a minimum.

A brief summary is that Attack on Titan takes place in a world where the surviving humans live inside huge stone walls that were put there to protect them against monstrous beings known as 'Titans'. In season 2 it was revealed that there was a plot by unknown enemy forces from outside the walls to kill all the humans within. Season 3 starts off insular, the scouts (soldiers trained to battle titans) realise that for reasons unknown the ruling government do not have the best interests of the people in mind, which leads to them rising up to overthrow the government. The second half of the season sees the scouts head out to retake 'Wall Maria' (the first of the three walls that was destroyed at the very start of the first season), as well as to finally find out the secret of what is in Eren's father's basement, which has been a huge plot point forever (Eren being the main character).

The entirety of season 2 took place over just the course of a couple of days. With this new season it seems to be a few months at least. This is very much a show split neatly into two halves. The first twelve episodes are almost titan free, yet this part shows that even without giant monsters the world is a violent place, specifically with an armed group led by Levi's former mentor (Levi being the leader of the scouts). It all gets quite political yet despite this manages to introduce the largest titan yet to grace the show, one so big that it can't support its own weight and so crawls along on its belly.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Wicked Witches (2018) - Horror Film Review

Wicked Witches (also known as The Witches of Dumpling Farm) is a U.K horror directed by Martin J. Pickering, and co-written by him and Mark Pickering. While this by no means a perfect film, as a piece of brain dead entertainment I think it actually succeeds. Not a lot is explained, and characters have wafer thin personalities, but it takes joy in its bloody scenes of horror and carnage. Coincidently it is the third film this year I have seen that features party goers at a remote farm getting attacked by demonic forces (the others being Soul to Keep and Shed).

After being kicked out his house for cheating on his wife, Mark (Duncan Casey - Skyfall) sees an ad in the paper for a cottage to rent at Dumpling Farm. The farm is the property of an old friend, Ian (Justin Marosa) and so Mark thinks it will be the perfect location to stay at. His friend however is behaving very strangely and so Mark hopes a party he has planned will make himself feel better about all the weird things he is experiencing.

So, the basic plot is that Mark has a party planned, one in which things go wrong. That's about it, there are no subplots, conversations characters have are very superficial, and apart from a few moments when Mark's cheating is referenced this topic is never explored. It doesn't help that he is a pretty silent protagonist. It makes sense when he is on his own that he wouldn't speak, but then when he is around people it usually isn't long until he is on drugs and withdrawing into himself. Side characters don't really fare any better, the main one is Kitt Proudfoot as Stevie, a perpetually drugged up party animal who is as one dimensional as they come, but does provide the most dialogue here. I have to admit his perpetual inane grin (that comes into full force during a protracted party montage), coupled with his friendly personality made him steal scenes by default. With Mark there was no effort made to make him into a relatable character, he seems to have no remorse for his infidelity, and seems kind of dull (loved the Alan Partridge style scene in which he is shouting "Hello! Ian!?" over and over again as he walks across a large field towards his friend. When action starts he does transforms into a budget range Ash from The Evil Dead, so he is not all bad.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Occurrence at Mills Creek (2019) - Short Horror Film Review

Occurrence at Mills Creek is a short twenty minute horror that was written and directed by Don Swanson (A Wish for Giants, What Was Lost). While this is set out to be a short film it is actually stated to be most of the opening act of a feature film with the same name which is due for release in 2020. Can the opening act of a larger movie really be treated on its own terms as a short though?

While this short plays around with the sense of time, with scenes shown out of chronological order I think the general gist was this: After the death of their mother, siblings Clara (Ava Psoras), and her younger 15 year old sister Cassandra (Alexa Mechling - A Wish for Giants) are all each other has. One day a tragic occurrence at Mills Creek changes even that. That is what I got from this, though the actual synopsis suggests something more paranormal which I didn't necessarily see.

The biggest question I had is if this would be strong enough to stand on its own. The quick answer would be kind of, but I will explain. I didn't have any problem with the actual film, but it never felt completely like a whole tale. There is no traditional act structure with the whole twenty minutes seeming almost like a stream of consciousness from the protagonist. That wasn't so much a problem though as I did enjoy how this goes backwards and forwards in time, with each scene feeling appropriate, save for an extended credit sequence that played out over the two sisters walking through a graveyard. It links the different time periods via editing together similar actions, such as Cassandra laying the floor and as she turns round it is suddenly a different location with her in the same position. Stuff like that I quite liked.

Of course it isn't as simple as going backwards and forwards in time as this also comes across as some sort of extended dream sequence. In what I assume to be the present the supposedly dead Cassandra crawls around trying to tell her sister she is still alive. At another point, a funeral Clara is at suddenly plunges into a dark nightmare sequence. This all feels quite low budget but the longer it went on the more I felt like I was getting into it. As for the acting, it was passable, but for me personally I did struggle to hear some of the more quietly spoken lines.

With Occurrence at Mills Creek you have something that works more as a taster than as a stand alone short. The plot doesn't get resolved but it does set up enough questions to make you wonder just what exactly is going on. With a nice variety of locations, and some nice enough editing and camera work this was decent enough, it would work be interesting to see it within the context of a larger story.


Monday, 5 August 2019

Is That You? (2018) - Horror Film Review

Is That You? (original title ¿Eres tú Papá?) is touted as being the first psychological horror film to ever be made in Cuba. It is the debut feature from award-winning filmmaker Rudy Riverón Sánchez, who also wrote this. This is in Spanish with English subtitles, a fact I did not mind at all due to there seeming to be no issues with the translation.

13 year old Lili (Gabriela Ramos) lives with her mum (Alina, played by Lynn Cruz), and her father Eduardo (Osvaldo Doimeadiós) at a shack in the Cuban countryside. It is not a happy life, mainly due to the abuse by the controlling Eduardo who keeps his wife a prisoner in their home, and who beats both her, and on occasion Lili. One day Eduardo goes missing, but instead of this being a good thing for the family, Lili becomes distraught, and in her grief gets taught a ritual that is said to be able to bring him back to her...

I like to think I have a good attention span, yet even for me this was a very slow movie. The miserable atmosphere of the family home benefits from this dragging out, like the dilapidated surroundings you come to feel unclean, with a brooding feeling that nothing good is going to happen here. At times this becomes quite nasty, and does certainly live up to the psychological horror tag it has given itself. Obviously there is a story going on here, it's just that nothing really happens with this, more a study of abuse and how it affects those enduring it. On the one hand you have Alina, she is broken by Eduardo and long since past the point of trying to stop it, instead meekly doing everything he asks. Due to her love of Lili she is unable to take the steps to get away from this man. Then there is Lili herself who due to her young age, and the influence of her dad almost idolises him. In her eyes she wants to not only make him proud of her, but she also will do anything to keep the family together.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Cleansing (2019) - Horror Film Review

The Cleansing is a U.K made horror from director Antony Smith, that almost felt like an indie version of The VVitch: A New England Folktale. Like that movie this is a period piece that has the central idea of witchcraft, and like that one this can also be a bit of a slow burn.

Set in 14th century Wales this follows a teenage girl named Alice (Rebecca Acock - The Watcher in the Woods) whose small village is suffering from the effects of a plague sweeping the land. After her mother gets the disease and is killed by a plague doctor in order to prevent the spread, the village preacher/leader - Tom (Rhys Meredith - Apostle, Don't Let Him In) offers for Alice to come live with him, as he secretly desires the girl. However, after spurning his advances Tom convinces the villagers that she is a witch, and the person responsible for causing the all the illness. Fleeing, she is taken in by a herbalist living deep in the woods - James (Simon Pengelly - Being Human), who decides to teach her about natural medicine.

While I didn't mind this it does take a bit to get going. A big distraction for me for a while was that Alice barely speaks at all. I find the idea of a silent protagonist to be an interesting one, but it led to some moments of frustration, especially in the first third. This first third has the girl being tortured at the hands of the priest and his cronies, their aim seemingly to be just to get her to talk. I never really understood why she refused their pretty simple requests, though it is only much later that you actually do discover just why she won't talk. Then there is the middle section with her growing friendship with James which was the most grounded part, it features as its centrepoint a hallucinogenic dream sequence that tries to pull the story towards its final third. Here, all the promises of horror come to fruitiation. Having spent two thirds of the film in relatively sedate surroundings it was nice to see the action pick up in a slightly over dramatic finale.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Orgy of the Damned (2010) - Horror Film Review

I didn't realise how literal the title for director Creep Creepersin's Orgy of the Damned was when I sat down to watch this Gothic erotic vampire movie. I thought it would be an orgy of blood and violence, not an actual orgy! So, much of this wasn't my thing at all, this features a hell of a lot of nudity, and many pointless joyless sex scenes that felt like soft-porn. Scratch beneath the superficial surface and there is an actual story trying to get out, even if it was never that well explained.

Fosco (Domiziano Arcangeli who also wrote this) is the 300 year old head of a family of vampires who reside in a large mansion, and who partake in a never ending orgy, all in a bid to 'feel alive'. At a nightclub Fosco becomes captivated by Fauna (Naama Kates) and so invites her to his mansion, which she agrees to, bringing along her boyfriend Micah (Vincent Hoss-Desmarais) in the process. All is not well in the household, Fosco feels something essential is missing from his life, while his wife Sabina (Lorielle New) plots with their son Dimitri (Greg Maness) to take over control of the family.

You can never accuse this film for not living up to its title as that is an ongoing event in the background that often times drags in the main characters. Rather than be anything erotic though I found myself wondering just how boring it must be to live in a perpetual orgy, and with so many naked people I was pondering just where they would all keep their clothes so that they didn't lose them. For the first two thirds of Orgy there are a lot of sex scenes. The film opens on one; Fosco and Sabina with Dimitri watching, then later on there are loads slotted in, and most (but not all) felt unnecessary. I kind of understand the mindset the vampires have, and how this has affected the things going on. All of them seemed bisexual which I guess you would eventually become if you had that much time to kill. By the time the final third of the movie comes around most the cast have become suitably clothed, except for protagonist Fauna who does the opposite and starts walking around the mansion clothes less. The nudity is occasionally full frontal, but a lot of the time the characters are laying in such a way as to hide themselves somewhat.