Thursday, 31 December 2020

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for December 2020

It is finally the end of a year that most people will agree was an awful one, even for a restrained introvert like me who likes rules and order. In this final post of 2020 it would be all too easy to sum up just how bad it was. But then, everyone is already aware of this, it doesn't need summing up. Instead I will focus on the good.
I've been playing video games since the mid 1980's, I started with the Acorn Electron and have been gaming ever since. In my opinion this has been the most astonishing year for video games in terms of the sheer number of great games released. Lockdown might have been bad for many reasons but video games this year have flourished. To bring up a list of just some of the game that came out in 2020...Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Nioh 2, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Doom Eternal, Half-Life: Alyx, Resident Evil 3 (remake), Final Fantasy VII Remake, Streets of Rage 4, The Last of Us Part II, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2, Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Creaks, Carrion, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Hades, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, Watch Dogs: Legion, Visage, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Demon's Souls (remake), Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Cyberpunk 2077, Ghost of Tsushima, Zombie Army 4: Dead War and Wasteland 3. Sure many of these are sequels or remakes but the sheer number and the sheer quality is all a bit mind blowing.
As to my favourite game of the year...I would have to say Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It may not be horror (outside of the Halloween event) but a game in which you live an idyllic life on a deserted island, coming out in the middle of a global pandemic brought peace and tranquility that was so desperately needed.

Let's start with some music news for a change. Dark electronic duo MAN1K1N have released a new single, Into The Void. Johnny Veil says of the track " the self-deprecating dance of religiously aspiring to an 'ideal' you know you can't achieve. It's a feel good, tongue in cheek sacrifice of the self". Also released is a Big Time Kill remix of Now Your Wounds Are Getting Larger, here titled simply Wounds, which they say is far from a standard club mix. Official visualizers for both tracks are also now out.

Hard rock band Voltagehawk brought out a horror themed cover of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You. They said "We all know this song sucks, so we made a version that doesn't". The video is a 'Frankensteinesque music video narrative dripping with equal parts sex and carnage'.

Sacramento based band Beauty is Betrayal have released a new song in the form of D.A.R.E. This metal track is described in the press release as 'a colourful pill trip involving Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus with a fusion of metal-horror'. The song hopes to show people what it is like to be able to join a family made up of people just like you.

Reluctant Zero have released a new music video for You Make Me off of the soundtrack to the Friday the 13th fan film Voorhees. The song is taken from their 2nd EP. The group hope to set out on a massive tour once the world recovers from the nightmare of Covid-19.

Festive slasher The Nights Before Christmas is now out on streaming platforms in the U.S. This is a sequel to 2017's Once Upon a Time at Christmas and picks up years after a maniac who has styled himself on Santa faked his own death at an asylum were he had been kept locked up. I said in my review of this " a slick looking horror that excels with any scenes involving Simon Phillips (who played the antagonist)"

A teaser trailer for Rod Smith's Distortion has came out. The film stars Sadie Katz, Helene Udy, Lainee Rhodes, Dawna Lee Heising and Tatiana Larrea. It takes place five years after a notorious serial killer is presumed murdered, though the body is never found. Dr. Epstein has invited the only four survivors of his crimes to his house where she promises them she will be able to cure from the darkness that remains in their lives. Distortion promises plenty of twists, turns and revelations.

Terracotta Distribution has launched the UK's first VOD platform for East Asian cinema. This new streaming service will include new and classic movies, arthouse and indie from across East and South East Asia. Films are available to rent with subscription and hybrid models planned for the future. Highlights include the fantastic Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell, golden-age Jackie Chan films from the 80s and 90s and Korean New Wave classics such as April Snow, Il Mare and Christmas in August.

A new clip taken from supernatural thriller The Initiation can now be viewed. The film stars Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story) alongside Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop), Vernon Wells (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior), Mel Novak (Bruce Lee's Game of Death), Jimmy Drain (Realm of Shadows) and Harley Wallen. A professor discovers a secret society of witches on the campus he works at. The Initiation is directed by Brian McCulley.

As always my inbox is overflowing with news but I shall end it here on this new years eve. Hopefully with a vaccine to Covid being rolled out 2021 can start us off on a track back to normality, but a normality that has learnt some lessons from the past and realises things don't all have to revert back. The planet can be fragile and it is about time some long lasting changes are made to stop humans fully trashing it.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

An Imperfect Murder (2017) - Drama Film Review

The 'killing someone and then trying to hide the crime' idea has been used so many times in films that it has become its own subgenre of horror. Often these types of movies play out in a realistic fashion with the viewer forced into the complicity and guilt of the crime committing protagonist. An Imperfect Murder (originally titled The Private Life of a Modern Woman) is director/writer James Toback's entry (Tyson, The Big Bang documentaries) into the genre and tries something a little more artistic.

Vera Lockman (Sienna Miller - 21 Bridges, Layer Cake) is a famous actress who awakens from a nightmare in which she killed her abusive ex-boyfriend. It is soon revealed by her journal entry that this actually happened in the recent past. While the crime was in self defence she had panicked and decided to dispose of the corpse rather then inform the authorities of what happened, thinking that they wouldn't believe her story. Over the course of several days we see her interactions with a variety of people, including her therapist, her mother and grandpa, and Detective McCutcheon (Alec Baldwin - Mission Impossible - Fallout, The Hunt for Red October) who is investigating the disappearance of the ex, who happened to be a person of interest to the police.

An Imperfect Murder is an artistic movie which doesn't set out its story in a conventional way. The murder itself is over within the first few minutes of the film, with the disposal playing out later in the film. Gone is the usual complicit guilt I would usually feel with a set-up like this as Vera is a bit of an emotionless character. I put it down to her being an actress, meaning she is able to act like everything is normal and fine when underneath the surface she is highly stressed. The film is shown as a variety of meetings with people, with Vera being the uniting aspect. We only see the character during these various meetings and they take on a philosophical aspect to them with characters engaging in intelligent sounding discourse on the nature of life. It is all very drama focussed and felt like a series of po-faced plays. The only time the movie delves into the traditional Crime and Punishment part of getting away with murder are the wonderful scenes involving the Detective character. This is played well by Baldwin with his role being someone who very much seems to know Vera is much more involved in the disappearance of her ex then she is letting on.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Whoops! I Woke the Dead (2020) by Joseph Rubas - Zombie Comedy Horror Novella Review

Whoops! I Woke the Dead is a 134 page zombie novella whose title indicates this isn't something that takes itself seriously. Written by Joseph Rubas, this is told from the perspective of the novella's main character; 16 year old Alex Warner. It includes various references to other horror media and despite featuring the undead is written in a tame way, which works with the humour displayed.

Alex loves horror and so her favourite holiday is Halloween. After the Halloween party she was meant to be attending with her cousin and their boyfriends gets cancelled she convinces her friends to instead head to a cemetery and read from a spooky old book she found during her volunteer work at a library. This doesn't turn out to be the wisest move as the words she reads from the book has the unintended effect of raising the dead from their graves. Now Alex has to find a way to undo the trouble she's caused or being grounded will be the least of her worries.

I didn't like the protagonist of this story, I found Alex to be far too arrogant and unable to take proper responsibility for her actions. Being told from her perspective, and having a deep love of herself it is understandable why she paints herself as the coolest and best person alive but it doesn't endear her to the reader. Much better was the subplot involving a pizza cook named Langston who gets caught up in the unfolding zombie apocalypse. His whole character was a one trick pony (he has based his life on his idol Bruce Lee) yet his sections of the book were endlessly entertaining. Due to how one dimensional his character was I can fully see why he was a side character, but I came to really enjoy the parts involving him.

The zombies here are made much less threatening in that they not only retain all their memories of when they were alive, but they are fully aware of what they are and what they want. As a collective the undead share a cheeky sense of humour making some of their conversations amusing and giving them some of the more funny moments in the novella. There is plenty of fighting the ghouls but there is a total lack of blood, the undead far more like the dusty old corpses of Michael Jackson's Thriller than gory other equivalents. Also on the horror side of things is the old book that Alex has in her possession, said to be made of human skin, and with a talking face on the cover this was a stand in for the Necronomicon. It was a shame this didn't really become a character proper until the books third act.

Whoops! I Woke the Dead was a fun enough little story even if I didn't really think much of the characters here. The horror aspect took a while to make an appearance but despite this the zombie uprising part never felt rushed. The lack of any real peril fed into the friendly humour, and it was all well written with nice little easter eggs peppered throughout. Whoops! I Woke the Dead is out now.


Monday, 28 December 2020

Deadly Games (1989) - Horror Film Review

It was just the other day that I first heard of the French Christmas themed slasher Deadly Games (original title 36.15 Code Pére Noel and also known as Game Over) for the first time. It was described as a more realistic take on Home Alone, and indeed it does share many similarities. This film was released a year before that classic though, and so if anything the makers of that took inspiration from this one (so much so that the director René Manzor once threatened to sue them).

Thomas (Alain Lalanne) is a child genius who lives in a huge mansion in which he has created lots of secret doors and traps, as well as designed an entire home security system which he controls by a device on his wrist. Despite his intelligence he has an active imagination and still believes in Santa. His toy store owning mother wants her son to keep his innocence as long as possible and so encourages this belief. This turns out to be a bad move though as through a series of events a perverted psycho (Patrick Floersheim) has dressed up as Santa and broken into the mansion, with his eye on the boy. Being Christmas eve, Thomas is convinced that this maniac actually is Santa, and that he has become murderous due to Thomas staying up to try and see him, rather than being in bed asleep. With no other help but his elderly and sickly grandpa (Louis Ducreux) Thomas must find a way to either stop or escape the killer.

You can tell right away this is an eighties film as it opens on a montage of Thomas dressing up as a Rambo style soldier. With an impressive mullet Thomas exudes the spirit of this decade. This character was the most interesting part of Deadly Games as he genuinely believes the intruder is Santa and so has to constantly battle his unwillingness to hurt his hero. Kevin McCallister in the Home Alone movies is supremely confident, full of wise cracks, and with traps that always outwit the villains he faces. Thomas is much more believable as he is visibly traumatised by the events of the movie. At several points he breaks down in tears and cries for his mother and by the film's conclusion has a haunted 'thousand yard stare'. There are no wise cracks to be found here, aside from maybe the maniac who doesn't break the character he has created. Underneath all his madness there is a kind of childlike innocence, in his eyes it all might be a literal game he is playing with the boy. Both Lalanne and Floersheim were expertly cast and there is a great dynamic between the pair, the same can be said of the tender relationship between Thomas and his grandpa.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Slayed (2020) - Horror Film Review

It is that time of the year again when everything is cheery (aside from damn Covid) and the world is full of psychos dressed as Santa going around butchering people, and so comes Slayed. Co-directed by Jim Klock (Red Letters, 6.66PM) and Mike Capozzi (Eye of the Storm) who both also co-star, this Christmas horror acts as a sequel to a story that took place within the film world, but not as a sequel to an actual film.

It is Christmas eve, five years since a killer dressed up as Santa Claus abducted and butchered a bunch of young women at a water treatment plant on Christmas day, before vanishing. Crandle (Capozzi), a guard at the soon to be condemned plant has more reason than most to be wary of the killer's return. He was the sole survivor of the massacre and has been preparing ever since for the reemergence. This evening he is joined by Jordan (Klock), a new security guard covering the shift of a co-worker who didn't show. With reports of abductions in the nearby town matching the M.O of the killer, Crandle is more certain than ever that tonight is when he will finally get a chance to get revenge.

The fact that Christmas horror films are prolific enough to earn them their own subgenre of horror is a great thing. Slayed comfortably fits in here with the offices of the plant adorned with all manner of fairy lights and festive decorations, and the lighting for much of the film flitting between green and reds. Add in a Santa themed slasher and it is all sorts of fun, which even with the indie budget still works quite well. The killer is rarely seen, often appearing for a few moments, this even applies to the kills and abductions with nearly all occurring off screen. While this made a lot of the run time less exciting than it otherwise would be we are treated to a montage of sorts towards the end which revisit these kills. The method of killing isn't festive themed sadly, knifes, axes, and even an arrow are still fun to watch, and involves plenty of thick looking blood. The slasher remains mute throughout aside from a suitably creepy monotone 'ho ho ho' it makes.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Phobic (2020) - Horror Film Review

On paper, Bryce Clark's Phobic sounded like it would be a fun horror. I imagined the entertaining Irrational Fear but in a crime thriller setting, maybe Se7en with phobias instead of the seven deadly sins. Instead what we got was a surprisingly dull movie whose story goes off the deep end by the film's conclusion.

Riley (Jacque Gray - The Night Clerk) is a homicide detective who has recently returned to active duty after being abducted and tortured by an unknown assailant. She is partnered up with Paul (Devin Lijenquist) and together they start investigating crime scenes that appear to be the work of a serial killer who forces his victims to confront their deepest fears before they die. The duo soon realise all the victims were the patients of Elizabeth Holden (Tiffani DiGregorio - Halloween H20: 20 Years Later), and that an incident in Riley's past might have her linked to the events in some way.

The crime investigation part of Phobic I was up for, but right away there was something a little bland about things. It felt similar to Se7en in that nearly the majority of the movie takes place at night, in a vast cold city, with characters are all super serious and committed to their work. The first act, with the two detectives investigating crime scenes were not bad, but it is later events that made this film more bizarre than interesting. It leads up to a third act twist that felt far removed from the relative realistic investigation going on up to that point. It was abrasive to me, mainly with a protagonist I had been following the whole film suddenly acting like someone very different, with definite vibes of Unbreakable/Split to it. Even before this the story didn't do enough to grip, and the eventual reveal of who this serial killer actually was managed to also be underwhelming. Sure, the identity was a surprise, but with all the characters they could have gone with this choice wasn't one I would have picked.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Death Toilet 3: Call of Doody (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review

When I received an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing Evan Jacobs' very indie comedy horror film Death Toilet 3: Call of Doody I agreed, but in the back of my mind I was sure this was something I wouldn't enjoy. Out of all the types of humour, jokes about bodily functions are down there with sex jokes as my least favourite. This film is terrible, but it is the type of terrible that I happen to love. Often times films that are described as so bad that they are good actually turn out to be quite dull, but with a short run time and some genuinely funny moments I liked a lot of what I saw here.

I haven't seen either 2018's Death Toilet or 2019's Death Toilet Number 2 but there are likely to be spoilers for those in my synopsis for this one. The first film saw Vietnam veteran Brett Baxter (Mike Hartsfield who reprises his role for the third time in this latest installment) return home to settle his deceased brothers affairs only to discover his brother's toilet has become possessed. The second film had Baxter teaming up with Father Dingleberry (Isaac Golub) after it was discovered toilets all over America were also becoming possessed. This third film has Baxter finally able to relax, after having gone on a world tour of battling possesed toilets. However, upon learning that the original toilet has been gifted to a church, and is back to its evil ways Baxter realises he must enlist special help to once again defeat it.

Monday, 21 December 2020

First Bite (2020) - Short Horror Film Review

First Bite is an award winning six minute Canadian horror that was written and directed by Vincenzo Nappi (Filtered) and stars Catherine Saindon (Game of Death, Psycho Prom Queen). It's a grimy and dank short whose location of a trashy toilet features the sort of set decoration that wouldn't feel out of place in a Rob Zombie movie.

Alex (Saindon) is at a metal concert, but due to some kind of illness is locked away in a toilet puking up all manner of bodily fluids. Her friend Olivia (Hana Kashaf - Hysteria) is concerned but Alex assures her she is just really really hungry. Eventually she comes to the conclusion of just what type of food she is deeply craving...

Due to the pacing of this it felt like a scene taken out of a much larger movie, yet this slice works as a stand alone due to the self contained story within. The stand out part of this is the location, the angry metal music constantly in the background adds to the misery you feel the main character is experiencing. A lot of people have gotten too drunk at some point in their lives while out drinking, and have spent time being sick into a random toilet, and so while this is transported to a horror setting the set-up is relatable. Via clues provided to the viewer it soon becomes clear where this is all leading up to, so I won't spoil that surprise.

First Bite was an effective short that works on the build up with the resolution being the obvious way to finish things off. Due to a love of the particular genre covered I was left hungry for more, but regardless it was a fun little short.


Saturday, 19 December 2020

Scream - Horror Film News

Scream franchise creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson has confirmed the title of the upcoming Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group release. The latest installment in the Scream franchise is to simply be called Scream. To be fair it isn't the first franchise to re-use an earlier title, Halloween is the biggest culprit when it comes to doing this.

Williamson said of this "Nearly 25 years ago, when I wrote Scream and Wes Craven brought it to life, I could not have imagined the lasting impact it would have on you, the fans. I'm excited for you to return to Woodsboro and get really scared again." Scream is due for a January 2022 release.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Why Haven't They Fixed The Cameras Yet? (2020) - Short Horror Film Review

The award winning Why Haven't They Fixed The Camera Yet? is a short four minute horror film directed and co-written by Travis White (along with Disha L. Dinesha). The story takes place mainly from the thoughts of a concerned woman.

A woman (Lee Eddy - Mercy Black) is concerned that the camera in the underground carpark at her work has not been fixed since becoming broken. She worries that due to the amount of crime against women the broken camera in such a secluded spot could be a bad thing. Mainly she worries that a sexist co-worker oh hers, Devin (Lukas King - Grimm) might take advantage of this blind spot for his own needs.

This short is from the perspective of the protagonist character and outside of her inner thoughts there is no actual dialogue spoken aloud. Story wise I had a feeling where this would end up going but it was still fun to see the ride. Flashbacks to an office Christmas party are used to support evidence she has that Devin is not a good person. In a post #metoo world the topics this short covers are relevant. The horror when it occurs is mostly off camera but is an effective moment. Check out Why Haven't They Fixed The Camera Yet? for yourself below, its short length means there is no real excuse not to do so.


Thursday, 17 December 2020

Dead Girl Corps release official music video for their Marilyn Manson cover - Music News

Hollywood, CA based Dead Girls Corp have released the official music video for their cover of Marilyn Manson's Great Big White World cover. The track was released via Monsterman Records on Halloween. As you can tell from the release date I am not exactly up to date with my news inbox.

The press release states "As Covid-19 cripples the world and continues mass shutdowns everywhere, and with the current amount of civil unrest in the USA...we feel the song and video strongly captures this current period in time. Director/DP Stephen Redmond along with editor Alexis Johnston did a great job capturing this mood".

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

You're Not Alone (2020) - Horror Film Review

On the surface the Eduardo Rodriguez (Fright Night 2, Blood Cell) directed You're Not Alone is yet another horror that centres on a family who are being terrorised by a supernatural presence in their home. This falls further into genericness by having the horror focus around a little girl who may be hiding a dark secret. However, Andrew Wong's story (his feature film debut as a writer) is more clever than it at first seems, while the lead actors here all do pretty great jobs.

After the death of her father, young Isla (Leya Catlett - The Affair) moves in with her mother, Emma (Katia Winter - Sleepy Hollow TV show, Dexter). Emma hasn't had much to do with her daughters life due to suffering mental health problems, but now wants to make amends. However, the arrival of Isla brings with it a series of strange disturbances around the house they are living in. Objects seeming to move around on their own, the alarm system constantly tripping for no apparent reason, and Isla keeps seeing a shadowy figure around the house. Is there something supernatural going on, or is it maybe Emma's mental health problems coming back to haunt her?

Within a short space of time I felt I knew what this film would be about, and it certainly isn't too original. It strays from feeling generic though, as even with having seen this type of story in plenty of other films I was invested mainly thanks to Winter's performance. Via flashbacks to a suicide attempt you get the knowledge that she is a woman with a troubled past. This affects her behaviour in the present, and also provides the notion that maybe what she is experiencing may all be in her head, especially when you factor in hallucinations of slit wrists, and nightmares about similar things. With children in horrors there is always the danger of making them come across as too mature for their young age, something I always find creepy when that isn't the intended effect. For the most part Catlett does a good job, her character is quite quiet which may help her never becoming irritating, but the script on occasion does give her lines that made her sound far more grown up than she should appear. There are a host of side characters, the best of which are Emma's ex boyfriend Mark (Zach Avery - Fury) who carries with him an air of menace, and Emma's best friend, Ashley (Emmy James - Can't Take It Back) who shines despite not getting much screen time with which to make an impact.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Abandoned Dead - Reissue Out Now - Horror Film News

The new colour corrected and digitally enhanced Director's Cut of the 2015 indie horror Abandoned Dead is out on Amazon Prime and IMDB TV and iTunes thanks to Indie Rights.

This horror stars 'scream queen' Sarah Nicklin (Sins of Dracula) and Judith O'Dea (Night of the Living Dead) and is about a security guard who becomes trapped inside a dilapidated inner-city medical clinic where she comes under assault from supernatural forces.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Relentless (2020) - Horror Film Review

Relentless isn't much of a horror, but it straddles the line between drama and survival, while leaving the sole protagonist in a perilous and scary situation. This could be seen as an indie version of Crawl, but with less alligators and less going on. This lack of adventure means Relentless can be far more introspective, with the whole set-up a metaphor for the inner turmoil of the main character.

Jennifer (Rachel Weber - Link) is home alone, with obvious signs of having recently had some sort of accident due to her leg being in a large brace. She carries with her a sense of melancholy, and as she potters around the house there are clues revealed as to what has made her life so lifeless and empty. It is when she is putting a box in the basement that the real world melds together with her inner one, the basement door jams shut trapping her inside. A storm is in full force outside and has led to water leaking into the basement. Initially Jennifer use her imprisonment to delve deep into her bitter memories, but as things get more and more desperate she is forced to take action.

Relentless is a bit of a strange title seeing as how things here don't really get moving until there is but fifteen minutes left of the roughly seventy five minute run time. The action was so late in happening that I began to suspect it never would. On paper having a sole character trapped in a basement not really doing anything for an hour should be dull, but the way the film drips information to the viewer made her journey much more interesting than it should have any right to be. This is a sad movie with a sad protagonist and while the things the character has experienced were alien to me I still felt for her situation. In part this was due to the sombre piano led score, in part to the story told, and in part to Weber, whose portrayal of a woman in a deep depression was, I felt, a good one. The character is on her own for much of the film and so rather than fill the air with talking to herself she is mute throughout. This made the story get told in a far more visual way than would be typically done. The music used is key in bringing the sad feelings, but it never over shadows what is going on, it compliments it.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

The Wicked Woods - Now Available on DVD and VOD - Horror Film News

The latest HNN Presents release is The Wicked Woods which has came to DVD and VOD from Bayview Entertainment. The film is about a married woman and her lover who have headed to a remote woodland cabin to discuss their future. Soon they find themselves under assault by forces outside the cabin. So far so The Evil Dead. This force reveals itself in the form of an old man, a nude woman, and cloaked children, and seeks to punish the couple for their actions in life.

This is a Spanish language film with English subtitles and is a presentation, it can be purchased on Amazon. It can also be found at Walmart, FYE, TCM Shop, Deep Discount,, Import CDs, Vintage Vinyl and more, in DVD form. VOD platforms include Amazon Prime, Vimeo, iTunes, Tubi, Roku, and MX Player.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

Devil in the Woods (2020) - Horror Film Review

Devil in the Woods is a very indie English horror film written and directed by Terence Elliott (co-director of Harvest of the Dead: Halloween Night). Watching this was a comedy of errors for me as I spent the whole experience convinced I knew how this would play out, but my assumptions were very incorrect. Due to those self same assumptions I struggled to take much of what I was seeing seriously.

Four college friends who drifted apart after the mum of one them died, come back together in order to complete a film studies project. The project is to make up at least 60% of their overall grade for the year and so Tess (Francesca Howe - Harvest of the Dead: Halloween Night, Underland) is determined to do a good job. Julian (Daniel Wale - Harvest of the Dead: Halloween Night) has a soft spot for Jess so he is on board to help out, however, stoner Chris (Alec Sleigh - Harvest of the Dead: Halloween Night) refuses to take the project seriously, with his maybe girlfriend Jenny (Amy Joy - Harvest of the Dead: Halloween Night) happy to follow his lead. Eventually the group decide to make a found footage horror, but their trip to the woods to record this has them meet up with a far more sinister group...

The film is 70 minutes long and features acting that while not terrible wasn't as high quality as you might see in other horrors. The performances in part led to my wrong thoughts about where the story would lead. The horror element appears in the films third act, with everything leading to this point mainly being the main story and a subplot involving two Police Officers. The filming a film within a film part of this helped show that maybe the acting isn't as bad as it initially appeared to be, as there is a very noticeable dip in quality when the characters are acting in the film they are creating. There are only a handful of locations used with the majority taking place in woodland, then an office for the officers, and rooms for two of the characters.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Two Twisted Tales (2021) - Short Horror Anthology Film Review

Two Twisted Tales is the latest short film from writer/director Nicholas Michael Jacobs (Genevieve Wreaks HavocGenevieve, Tales from Six Feet Under). Their are a couple of novel things going for it. Firstly, it is the first film I have received for review that is due for release in 2021, and secondly, despite being just three minutes in length this manages to cram two different stories into the run time.

This works both as a companion piece to the Genevieve short films, as well as a sequel of sorts to Tales from Six Feet Under. The Visitor (Jacobs) tells two different horror tales via an old cassette deck. The first is about the origins of a creepy doll. The second story is one about a widower (Alexis Beacher) whose online buying habits leads to her taking a chance on a mystery box.

It sounds like originally the plan was to make another entry in his killer doll series, but due to COVID-19 this wasn't possible. Still wanting to create something Jacob changed his plans into this brief anthology. He said that Two Twisted Tales was going for something with a different feel, both due to limited resources and due to wanting to try something new.

With the film relying on the narration of The Visitor the two tales felt more like ideas than fully fleshed out stories. The audio format does transform these into something more akin to a Creepy Pasta story, urban legends given form. The short length of these made for something that was very watchable, sure it would have been nice to get a lot more from these two stories, but as a taster it satisfied. It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a new series for this indie director. Two Twisted Tales is due for release on 1st January 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.


Thursday, 10 December 2020

Beyond Hell (2019) - Horror Film Review

Beyond Hell is an indie horror that was written and directed by Alan Murray (Exposed) in his feature length directorial debut. The film follows a familiar path and as such it was never going to be an essential horror to watch, yet despite some obvious budget limitations this was still relatively fun.

After returning from a vacation to South America, high schooler Seth (Sean Rey - Hemlock Grove) brings with him a new drug he found there, and during a get together with his friends they all take it, expecting a fun time. Wholesome Maryssa (Kearsten Johansson - Exposed) finds herself transported to a Hell dimension where a demonic entity known as Belial (Gavin R. Downes - Exposed) is able to use the girl as a bridge to invade Earth. With one of the friends at the party dead due to all this, Maryssa is blamed and committed to a psychiatric ward. One by one however each of the friends who took the drug are turning up dead in brutal circumstances, Maryssa, Jake (Sebastian Deery) and another friend set out to find a way to sever the connection Belial has to the world.

The general storyline has been done to death countless times before, both better and not as well implemented as this one. Things begin oddly with a prologue that almost seemed like it was taken from a different film entirely. It shows a man (who maybe was Seth) being chased by a load of cultists, before being captured. Aside from an epilogue that took place in the end credits this intro scene didn't seem to have anything to do with anything. If Seth was meant to be brainwashed there was never any indication he was, so it felt like a bizarre inclusion when Seth could have easily just got the drugs from anywhere rather than an Indiana Jones style sequence. Regardless of similarities Beyond Hell was fun once it got going, even if it is constantly let down by sub par special effects. The worst of these is the CG used to simulate the demon world affecting the protagonists, CG tentacles straight out of 2005 are one such eye sore, as are the superimposed zombie hands that 'burst' out of the floor, and on another occasion the wall. Day of the Dead did a similar effect, but practically in 1985, and that one looked a hundred times better than what we are shown here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

A Primitive Evolution releases official music video for Ghost - Music News

Toronto, ON based dark alternative rock band A Primitive Evolution have released a music video for Ghost, taken off their latest album, Becoming. This was directed by Terra Jo McNerthney and produced by Bailey Northcott.

The video for Ghost takes place in a post apocalyptic dreamscape, two survivors follow radio waves in the hope of finding connection. The band said of the song "We'd never written an epic long piece like this before and it really helped seal the album together for us". The track is based on dreams one of the band had after losing his father at the age of 14. Becoming can be downloaded/streamed online, and a physical CD can be purchased here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Human No More: The Feature (2020) - Horror Film Review

Oh boy, Human No More is one of the more difficult films I have been sent to review for a good while. I kind of had a sinking feeling while watching this that a lot of the themes and story here went over my head by quite a large margin. I fear this review will be as easy to write as remembering all the details of a crazed dream would be. My synopsis and likely other details provided will be the product of my interpretation, likely wrong, but is my springboard into trying to talk about this in a cohesive manner.

Human No More was written and directed by Christopher Alan Broadstone and has a slight anthology feel to it. This is fitting as it features within its two hour run time three different short films, Scream for Me (2000), My Skin! (2002), and Human No More (2004). These segments have appeared in different anthologies over the years, but here they are brought together, helped with actors from the main story also playing parts in those three stories. 
Tony Simmons mainly plays Det. Nemo, a hard boiled detective with a jaded outlook on life. He has gone to a unique club where he drinks and smokes while thinking about a strange case he had, tracking a serial killer that came to be known as the Mirror Murders Killer (Gabriel Sigal). Whether this place is real, or if Simmons has dived deep into his own 'mind palace' is never made clear, but here he encounters the killer who provides a long essay into the pointlessness of existence.

While the three short films here would indicate this to be an anthology there is so much of the rest of the movie that these felt more like little side stories. My Skin! is the first of these side stories and reminded me a lot of the TV show sequences in the Max Payne video games. In this one a man thinking he has gotten away with the perfect crime is horrified to find that someone with almost supernatural power (also Simmons) is Hell bent on dismantling the perfectness of the crime to grant a dead woman retribution from beyond the grave.
In Scream for Me two serial killers (played by Simmons and Sigal) happen to converge on the house of a young woman on the same ill fated night.
Finally, the Human No More segment featured the same detective character, I believe this one was towards the film's conclusion, it sheds more light on what made this character so bleak and jaded.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Insomniac Frightmare Killers - Horror Film News and Trailer

I don't have much details on Insomniac Frightmare Killers, but what I do have is a trailer, a synopsis, a cast, and a release window for this. This very indie horror is about a disturbed insomniac loner whose nightmares start to become reality as he becomes more and more detached from reality. 

The best thing about this is that it stars Nicholas M. Garofolo (Sweet Revenge, Deranged Foxhole) who never fails to have a real screen presence. It is also set to feature Lauren Collier, Taryn Danielle, Meredith Binder, Emmeline Prior, Megan Miles, Laura Pelliccia, Hana Leigh, Dave Sweeney, Drew Samuelsen and Steven Wishman. Insomniac Frightmare Killers is due to be released in Spring of next year.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Beasts Clawing at Straws (2020) - Thriller Film Review

A disclaimer to start with, Young-hoon Kim's Beasts Clawing at Straws is not a horror film, I do admit to being drawn in by the title, plus being a South Korean movie made me also interested in watching it. From the synopsis this sounded like a crime drama and that is mostly fitting. The varied cast of desperate and greedy characters is what sounded most interesting.

A former restaurant owner reduced to working in a sauna one day discovers a bag full of money in one of the lockers, and decides to take it home with him. Meanwhile a whole bunch of characters play out their lives, as the film progresses you find out just how this disparate people came to be involved in the series of events that led to the bag of money getting left at the sauna in the first place.

This was a well made thriller that had a great cast to it. Despite there being four or five storylines going on this never got confusing, there was a gentle placing of the pieces of the puzzle. The main cast of eight characters all end up crossing paths at one point or another. These include a local crime boss, a detective, a customs officer, a cleaner, a prostitute and more. There is quite a bit of murder here but despite that this never felt dark. You get the impression that none of these characters are innocent, and their desperation leads to a lot of the movie's events. This results in plenty of quasi-farcical moments that help keep the film's darkly comedic tone to it, moments such as when some gangsters accidentally chase their victim to death for instance. I enjoyed how threaded the different plots all where, but this was always competent in how they thread, but there wasn't any huge surprises.

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Hercules Recycled 2.0 (2020) - Comedy Film News

Hercules Recycled 2.0 is described as an 'insane, redubbed hybrid comedy/adventure set in a future where the power's run out and the world has collapsed into primal chaos'. It is stated that it was put together using nine old 'sword and sandal' movies to create a semi cohesive whole. The edited films have had additional work put on them, which includes 'two teenagers in togas, Eyezilla, a mercenary mariachi band, a space puppet, the kitchen sink (literally) and over 150 CGI effects'.

This was directed and co-written by Don Moriarty in his feature length directorial debut and the crazed story tells of a man in a chaotic future, former exercise show host Burt Galaxy who must seek out a lost energy formula that can restore civilisation. 
Hercules Recycled 2.0 is out now and can be seen on Amazon Prime Video here.

Friday, 4 December 2020

The Mark of the Bell Witch (2020) - Horror Documentary Review

The Mark of the Bell Witch is a new documentary from director Seth Breedlove (Momo: The Missouri Monster, Terror in the Skies). Having seen a few of his documentaries now I would say that this one is my favourite. Previously they have been about legendary monsters and creatures, but this time it is instead focussed on the supernatural. I had heard of the Bell Witch but I hadn't ever heard any details about it and so I was interested to discover this supposedly true tale of terror.

During the first decades of the 19th Century the Bell family were terrorised by a supernatural presence that came to be known as the Bell Witch. Initially it made itself known by creating strange noises from within their property, but as time went on it began to attack family members at night, and to slowly develop a voice, calling itself 'Kate'. Over time this spirit came to be known in the area and many people would travel to the property to encounter it for themselves. Eventually there became four separate entities that were apparently haunting the family, and Kate indicated that the terror was all happening as she wished for the head of the Bell family, John Bell to die. Eventually he did die in strange circumstances and the encounters gradually faded away. All that is according to the legends about the Bell Witch.

The documentary is an hour and a half long and I did wonder how they would find enough material to fit such a time frame. Well, it turns out there is a heck of a lot to the legend, and over twelve chapters various parts of it are talked about. This isn't a documentary that sets out to prove or disprove the legend, instead it presents evidence from people of the time in a neutral fashion. The majority of this is shown via narration and recreations. The recreations are done in black and white and feature plenty of supernatural images, such as the ghostly appearance of the witch and her creepy voice. I'm glad they went this route, at its heart it's a ghost story so I'm glad it was shown this way rather than in a more dry logical sense. The biggest thing I got out of this was thinking how great this would be as a season of The Haunting on Netflix (The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor). It has so many of the classic ghost/demonic presence stories you see in such things as Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Things such as a force passing itself off as someone or something it might not actually be, and the way it increases in power the more people pay attention to it. It has all the classic tropes, but taking place so far in the past was pretty cool to hear about.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

OverKill - Short Comedy Horror Film News

I remember fondly the video game Manhunt that came out on the Playstation 2. It had you going up against various despicable gangs as part of a twisted snuff film, and one of the gangs were lunatics who all wore 'smiley face' masks. While on holiday once I got the idea for a slasher film in which the killer wore one such mask, and so I was delighted to see the poster for the short comedy horror film OverKill where it sounds like someone else has used a similar idea.

This film comes from writer/director/editor, Alex Montilla (Cheat Day, Hot Tub Time Machine) and takes a fun look at the slasher genre. It is business as usual but the survivor of a college kid massacre discovers the killer literally cannot be stopped. This has been described as '80's slasher movie by way of "Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner" cartoons. OverKill was the winner of 'Best of the Fest' at Ethereal Horror Fest, and stars Amy Letcher, Mike Hall and Will Coffin.

My mask:

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Devil's Prey (2020) - Horror Film Review

Devil's Prey is a supernatural horror that was written, directed and edited by Lincoln Casimir in his feature film debut for all those roles. It is a bit of a crazy film, to me it felt like an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on drugs. All the pieces are there to tell a logical and well meaning story, but it felt more overly produced than was needed, making for a dizzy and disorientating movie.

Larry (Paul C. Kelly - Driftwood) is a serial killer who targets children. A victim of sexual abuse as a child he sees himself as a victim and someone who is unable to fight against his urges. When a young girl goes missing, two detectives suspect Larry (the girl's next door neighbour) may be involved, but they have no proof. Meanwhile an angel of death, Luke (Adam Silverman) is caught up in a battle of wits with a demon, Roam (John K. Hart - Crown of Thorns), the former wanting Larry to redeem himself, the later wanting Larry to fully commit to the darkness so that he can take his soul away.

This was a crazed movie that never really pauses to take a breath. Within the first few minutes we are introduced to Luke who during a casual conversation happens to mention he is dead. We learn of a missing girl, and the detectives as well as the girl's parents immediately suspect Larry, who then casually (though making it seem like a joke) tells the detectives he molests children. We then spend the rest of the movie split between three chaotic storylines. The majority of the movie in a breath of fresh air follows Larry, who (likely) rapes and murders aside is a bit of a soft character. He has a sick mother in a nursing home, he has the abuse he suffered as a child, and he has constant dreams and visions of both Luke and Roam. He spends the movie flitting around from location to location speaking to people who act completely unsurprised that he is having visions of angels and demons.
The first subplot involves the two bumbling detectives, these swiftly end up relying on a local psychic to help them solve their case for them. Despite closely watching Larry they somehow miss him doing what he does worst, even when it is painfully obvious the man has secrets to hide.
The second subplot is where Devil's Prey is at its most bizarre. Here, Luke speaks to his superior on how best to save Larry's soul, and occasionally has a war of words with Roam.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Music Round-up for Autumn 2020

I currently have 65 emails sitting in the news section of my inbox, inundated with news at the moment. This is no bad thing, but does mean some items dating back to the middle of October are reaching their 'sell by' date. It's about time for my monthly news, so I have decided to remove the music news into its own post.

Cassetter's horror track 'Slasher' has gotten a Cyberpunk remix from Extra Terra. The song has been infused with 'grim, futuristic edge spiked with hints of Extra Terra's dubstep style. The remix is out now on all platforms, from FiXT Neon.
FiXT have recently signed Void Chapter. This project comes from Otto Cate, Adam Fielding and Brian Skeel and is said to 'deliver an exhilarating audio journey through dystopian sci-fi worlds'. They have released two full-length instrumental albums, The Sprawl and The Uprising with new vocal based material dropping in 2021.

Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band Boneyard released their new album, Oathbreaker on October 24th. The band are led by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Pamtera and includes members from previous bands Tyrant, Septimus and Powerslave. Initially they were a cover band but have been creating original music for the past three years. For more information check out their website.

Boston, MA rock band Above Snakes have released a new single, Never Alone, and to go with it is a zombie based animated visualiser. Singer, Johnny Skulls (great name) says the song is about "living a chaotic lifestyle...and just when you're at your worst, that special force pulls you back into reality giving you a new lifeline". The music video for the track released on November 13th.

Ethereal Darkwave duo The Palace of Tears have revealed their new album, Of Ruination. This album features seven tracks 'of somber beauty and otherworldly seduction'. It contains themes of love, death and 'the search for truth in a world filled with grief and the longing for connection'. The track listing is as follows, Terra Ephemera, Thy Womb Full of Black Nectar, Masque L'Intrigue, Tears of the Moon, Cold Dead Skin, Shadows Of Whispering Phantoms, and Of Ruination. It is out now digitally, with a limited CD edition to follow.

Following on from her last single The Day I Died comes Gothic singer, Elle Noir's new song, Like A Black Doll. This is the title track from her upcoming EP. She says the song is about "a traumatic situation of my childhood, which I do not talk about but have been able to elaborate on over the years thanks to music."

Dark Rock artist Sharone has released a second song off her upcoming LP, Morbid Illusion. The track, Fade Away is described as her empowerment anthem and features a video about a wounded warrior confronting death.

Now, Dungeon Synth is a subgenre of music I have never heard of before, but US based Sombre Arcane fit into that apparently. They have recently released a video for their new track, Ancestral Seat Of The Barovian Scourge. The song was inspired by a Dungeons & Dragons module that the band have been playing together for 8 years. That is something to be respected, kinda jealous of that long game!

Another new music video, this time with Dawn of Ashes who have one for their song Sleep Paralysis. They use elements of HR Giger, Zdzislaw Bekinski and Clive Barker, with the video focusing on corruption, police brutality and human rights. This is taken off their new album The Antinomian that came out in July thanks to Artoffact Records.

I have more music news to share, but I will leave it here for the moment, happy listening and see you on the other side of the cassette tape. I say tape, as that is the best my car offers me when it comes to providing me music sources, thank God for smartphones!

Monday, 30 November 2020

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

Another month of this darn year has passed, but in happier news England's second lockdown is about to come to an end, though leaving that to head to Tier 2 which isn't a lot better, but at least me and my support bubble can eat out, and I will be able to get my awful hair cut! I have been trying to cut down on the amount of news mentioned in these round-ups, but with less films seemingly coming out this year it has meant the amount of news I am receiving as increased dramatically!

Video games to begin with. I am currently playing the first person 'walking simulator', Visage. This game, that takes place within the confines of a haunted house was deeply inspired by the fantastic P.T demo.
The latest Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War came out in November. This thankfully includes Zombies. Currently there is just the one map, Die Maschine that is a wonderful remake of Nacht der Untoten. There is also Dead Ops Arcade 3. This is an overhead level based zombie battling shooter which has you on a mission to defeat the gorilla who kidnapped your pet chicken.
November 5th saw the release of Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles, which is the third game in the Outbreak series and has come to Nintendo Switch. This is a third person single player adventure that is inspired by classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

A new documentary focusing on the Grindhouse horror classics from the 1970's and 80's has been released, coming from Dustin Ferguson. Stale Popcorn & Sticky Floors features interviews with a whole host of icons such as Lynn Lowry, Brinke Stevens, Mel Novak and more. This was due for release on Halloween.

James Mackenzie's An American Zealot has released an official trailer and poster. This is about a Catholic schoolgirl who plans to murder her best friend's abortion doctor and about the ramifications of deciding to do this.

The director's cut of the great found footage horror Hell House LLC came to Amazon Prime on Friday 30th October. The director's cut includes a host of extras such as cast auditions, scouting of the iconic location, behind-the-scenes clips and more.

The November releases for online subscription service ARROW includes the launch of Ban This Sick Filth! which is a rotating catologue of some of the more controversial horrors, currently includes We Are the Flesh, Orgies of Edo, The Baby, The Woman and Bat Pussy. Other November releases included documentary The El Duce Tapes, the Essential Giallo Collection, the Female Prisoner Scorpion Collection and exclusively, He Came From the Swamp: The William Grefé Collection, which includes Sting of Death, Death Curse of Tartu, Mako: Jaws of Death and more.
The Arrow Video US release schedule for November included Lake Michigan Monster (11/03), Burst City (11/10), Silent Running (11/17), and He Came From the Swamp: The William Grefe Collection (11/24). These all release to Blu-ray.

Terror Films has acquired the worldwide digital rights to Sean Roberts home invasion horror The Night They Knocked. In this one a group of friends staying a remote mountain house get visited by a murderous group of travellers. It was nominated for Best Director and Best Feature Film at the New Jersey Horror Con. This had its online premiere at the Kings of Horror YouTube Channel on November 6th.

This year has been a prolific one for filmmaker and actor Shane Ryan. Choke released in May, followed by Heartbeat, which was followed by the lockdown inspired thriller Sinful, as well as Quarantine Girl. More recently was sci-fi action flick Attack of the Unknown. Ryan is currently finishing up his Ted Bundy Had a Son trilogy. That in itself was a follow up to his Amateur Porn Star Killer series which is due to get a 4th edition DVD release in a few months, along with Ryan's homeless drama, The Girl Who Wasn't Missing from Wild Eye Releasing. Other films of his that are in various stages of development are LGBT coming of age drama, This Girl, This Boy, arthouse horror film Red Oedipal, God Got Ill, The Owl in Echo Park, American Virgins, Trash Kids, Throwaway Girl and the Japanese film Sasebo. On the anthology side of things he has been involved with Philia, Gore Theatre 2, Gore Grind, 60 Seconds to Die 3, Awesomely Righteous & Radical, and made the short Autopilot for the #CormanChallenge

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Human Hibachi (2020) - Horror Film Banned on Amazon - Horror News

Human Hibachi became available by video on-demand from October 23rd exclusively on the film's website. Apparently the film was deemed too extreme to be viewed on Amazon. In the movie a man documents his girlfriend's 35th birthday on his phone, but things take a very dark turn as the night plays out.

Director Mario Cerrito (The Listing) said of his film: "So when I made this film, I knew some of the stuff that I put in it might exclude us from platforms like Amazon, however, I wanted to see my vision through so I wasn't going to let that hold me back. The main goal was to make something different...something that will be remembered and I'll take that over being rejected by a platform any day."

Human Hibachi can be viewed on it's website, here. Mario Cerrito and his team are currently working on a new horror, titled The House in the Pines.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Neighbor No.9 (2020) - Short Horror Film Review

Neighbor No.9 is a short  German language, Austrian horror film that comes from Wilhelm Müller, who describes himself as a hobby film maker. From his back catalogue it seems he specialises in exploitation films, having had his shorts featured in a variety of anthologies such as Tony Newton's Faces of Fear, Gore Grind, Gore Theatre 2, Grindsploitation 8, and in Shane Ryan's Faces of Snuff and the upcoming Ted Bundy Had a Son. The type of films in these types of collections are not something I personally find appealing at all. I find them downright nasty and a bit pointless, but I guess that is the point, to show the depths of human depravity.

Stefan Schanda plays the titular 'neighbor no.9', a heavily tattooed deviant who lives in a run down attic apartment, the walls adorned with cut outs of naked females, the man himself definitely a bit perverse, as can be seen with the introduction to him laying in bed making love to a pig's head. One day while out shopping he encounters a young woman (Mulier Sine Nomine) whose car has broken down and who says she is an influencer on her way to an important photo shoot. The man however has different plans for her...

Before even watching this I had a good idea where it would end up, and I was correct in my assumptions. This is exploitation and so nothing but bad things were going to happen here. I will say that I thought the design of the man's apartment was very fitting. Nearly the first five minutes of the short has the camera travelling around his flat, taking in all the detail of his own drawings and the posters and cutouts on his walls. This was good set design and really seemed to go with what we are shown of this character. The rest of the movie goes by at a much quicker pace with the body horror starting around ten minutes into this twenty one minute film.

Being presented as an actual short film rather than as a found footage style horror meant there was more time for things to occur, it was all as nasty as expected, with dismemberment, torture, and a knife stuck where a knife really shouldn't ever be (brought to mind the opening of the darn awful Headless). The special effects were not the worst out there, sure some parts looked a bit fake, but there is editing that switches up the real actress and the prop that is done well enough to create an illusion. These types of films often feel a bit aimless, but I admit the end of this was darkly suggestive. Did I enjoy Neighbor No.9? Not really, but then it isn't my thing. If this is your type of film then you will probably get some enjoyment out of this, it is competently made and well put together. Neighbor No.9 is due to come out on DVD in the future.