Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Nightshooters (2018) - Action Thriller Film Review


This past week or so my inbox has had an influx of films sent to me for review. An annoying habit of mine is to request screeners even when I am already swamped. I was on the fence briefly about Nightshooters, it sounded very much like an action film. It is also however a thriller, albeit a comedic thriller, and that gave me the 'in' to accept it could fit on my blog. Interestingly enough this was written and directed by Marc Price, his very first feature length film, Colin was one of the first films I reviewed on this site.

An indie film crew are in a derelict office block filming Dawn of the Deadly, a low budget zombie film. The crew include the angry director (Adam McNab - The Summoner), stunt guy Donnie (Jean-Paul Ly), special effects guru Ellie (Rosanna Hoult - Captain America: The First Avenger), sound technician Oddbod (Nicky Evans - Shameless TV show) as well as a few others, including the movie's leading man, the diva like Harper Partridge (Doug Allen - Band of Brothers TV show). In a case of wrong place at the wrong time, just across from the group in another derelict building are a group of gangsters, led by the bear like Tarker (Richard Sandling - School of the Damned), who are there to carry out a brutal gangland killing. The gangsters realise too late that not only where their actions accidentally witnessed by the film crew, but that they also happened to have caught it all on tape. In desperation, Tarker orders his men to storm the office block with the aim of wiping out all the witnesses. With the building scheduled to be demolished the next morning, the film crew must find a way to escape both their attackers and building by dawn.

Watching this it reminded me of a few things. The biggest feeling was that this was like a cockney version of Die Hard. Instead of an off duty cop you instead have a panicked film crew. It turns out this was actually one of the influences for Nightshooters, a scene set in an air duct specifically was designed to look like a scene from that action flick. There is a very British style of humour with both sides of the conflict constantly insulting themselves throughout. While this can be quite dark (such as a violent scene of a captured female character getting repeatedly punched in the face) this also borders on a comedy, and that is mainly due to the antagonists. These antagonists are like a more deadly version of the 'Wet Bandits' from Home Alone. Most of this group of shown to be wildly stupid, and it is this stupidity that leads to a lot of the moments of them underestimating their enemy, as well as accidentally causing at least of couple of their own deaths.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Bad Ben: Benign (2021) - Comedy Horror Film Review


My Bad Ben voyage has reached the end now that I have seen the latest entry in the series that includes both main line films and spin-offs. While I didn't think Bad Ben: Pandemic was very good (due entirely to the fan made short films that made up the meat of that one), I did think Nigel Bach's character Tom Riley was as entertaining as ever. There will be a spoiler for the end of Pandemic as that cliff-hanger ending feeds directly into this one, with the events of latest film Bad Ben: Benign taking place on the same night, albeit in a different reality.

Pandemic ended with Tom getting apparently shot dead after entering an alternate reality in search of a cure of Covid and instead being mistaken for patient zero. Benign begins with Tom stumbling towards his house clutching his chest only to discover that bizarrely he doesn't have a mark on him. Being as belligerent as ever, Tom breaks into his house and is baffled to find it full of furniture and objects that he doesn't recognise, seemingly having forgotten he is no longer in his own reality. He soon discovers to his dismay that the house is once again haunted, this time by a multitude of different ghosts and demons. Tom sets out to do what he somehow does best, once again ridding his eternally haunted home from its latest supernatural occupiers.

My scattershot approach to this huge series means that I have missed out on a lot. I know that the series has included everything from prequels, to dimension hopping, haunted car rides, and even a Christmas themed short. In the original film, Tom was filming himself for no apparent reason, while in a house that he intended to sell on. Nine films later and he actually has an excuse this time around. As he sees it, so much unbelievable stuff happens to him that he likes to keep a record so that he has proof whenever he is asked about it all. Separated somewhat from the plot here is a title card at the movie's start that states the next ninety five minutes of footage was picked up by cutting edge camera technology. It may be an alternate reality but Tom's house is still full of cameras, this time around they are joined by a hand camera he discovers. Cutting edge this film is not, the special effects are amazingly bad, but this is very much done on purpose. Despite how bad they look they still actually look kind of impressive...kind of. You get a disembodied head floating around, a sentient hand on the loose like something out of The Addams Family, and objects moving around on their own. What I found startling due to the only other two films I have seen of Bach's is that there are more characters than Tom this time around (I know that has also been done before in plenty of the other Bad Ben sequels). While this is the case their appearances are very fleeting, once again it is mainly Tom on his own.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

How to Kill Your Roommates and Get Away with It (2021) - Comedy Thriller Film Review


How to Kill Your Roommates and Get Away with It
is the feature length directorial debut of Pat Kusnadi, who also wrote this along with Robbie Dias. Due to the structure of the film this almost felt like a time loop thriller, albeit one with comedy built into its storyline. The comedy versus thriller didn't always go together well, leading up to a finale that jettisons the humour in lieu of drama.

Ellie (Nicole Cinaglia - Paranormal Attraction, Camp Dread) is reaching the end of her tether thanks to the roommates from Hell in the form of her former friend April (Lara Jean Sullivan - Ugly Sweater Party) and her misogynistic meathead boyfriend, Clyde (Eric Reingrover - The New Hands). When her best friend, easy going Jacob (Hunter Johnson - Ugly Sweater Party, Irrational Fear) jokingly suggests he helps her kill them, she decides to take him up on his offer.

The film starts off light enough with the films first act having Jacob and Ellie at a diner. As Ellie recounts all the reasons why she cannot stand her roommates, flashback sequences play out showing her reasons in greater detail. When Ellie reveals her drastic plan this leads into a second act that is a series of possible 'what-ifs' with the various attempts Ellie and Jacob have on killing the duo. Because of this I found it difficult to really work out what was real and what was fiction. When the plot begins in earnest I was left half expecting at any time for the time to reset again, this made it hard to fully get into the spirit of the movie. The core four cast members were well chosen. The animosity that Ellie, April, and Clyde had felt believable enough that it reminded me of my younger years when I was living with a couple in a vaguely similar situation. It helps in making it seem that Ellie really could be wanting to kill them. There is a small group of actors here and that compliments the short seventy minute run time. Along the way there is a small scene that features iconic horror actress Felissa Rose (Camp Twilight, Sleepaway Camp) and Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), with them giving purposely over the top performances, and one small but nicely done scene involving a character played by Christopher Bryan Gomez (Streets of the Dead).
By the time of the final act all this comedy has left the film, it gave a strange change in tone that never felt well implemented, leading to an unexpectedly dark finish.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Bad Ben: Pandemic (2020) - Horror Anthology Film Review


With the ninth entry in the Bad Ben series of found footage horrors releasing next week I took it upon myself to watch a few of the others. I was pleasantly surprised with the original Bad Ben, while not much happened the actual quality was good. Bad Ben: Pandemic was the eighth entry and as the title implies, it was created during the height of the global pandemic. It was literally one made for the fans. 

Now a bit of a spoiler for the first film but things looked bad for the hapless Tom Riley (Nigel Bach who also wrote and directed his parts here) at the end of that one. In Pandemic Tom is alive and well, and having had lots and lots of experience battling demons (and discovering the existence of alternate realities) he is now officially a paranormal investigator. With lockdown in full effect he has taken it upon himself to offer his services. He has invited people to send him their videos, and to call him up so that he can offer advice on if the spooky situation they find themselves in is due to the pandemic or down to the paranormal.

Bad Ben: Pandemic is comprised of lots and lots of fan made short found footage films. While this follows an anthology style format we never leave Tom, throughout the shorts he is reacting and trying to offer advice to the people who he is interacting with. What is clever about this is how he comments on the events as if he is in direct conversation with the people even though he isn't. This leads to plenty of humorous moments of him shouting at people to unmute him due to them not paying attention to his words. On the Bad Ben side of things this was excellent, Bach is just as unflappable and irritable as he was in the past. He may be just a viewer of these strange events in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of way but some of his comments were legitimately laugh out loud funny. His actual storyline has almost nothing to it until the epilogue when he gets an idea based off one of the videos he was sent. Maybe setting things up for the latest sequel, Bad Ben: Benign.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology 15 (October 20th 2021)


Who doesn't love the original Scream? The film was my proper induction into horror films, I remember watching it on VHS as a teen with my sister and being scared but also loving it. It only improved over time now that I have gone back and watched older slashers and realised just what a leap forward this was for the genre as a whole. The original trilogy was pretty decent but I thought the fourth entry back in 2011 wasn't good at all (my badly written scathing review of Scre4m attests to my dislike). Since then however there was a decent TV show that once again made me interested in the series.
The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and follows in the footsteps of Halloween by having its latest sequel not numbered, it's simply called Scream. The film brings together Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette to reprise their classic roles once again. They will be joined by Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Sonia Ammar. Taking place twenty-five years after the events of the original film yet another new killer has taken up the mantle of the Ghostface killer in the town of Woodsboro. I really hope they take the brave step to kill off one of these series regulars as by this point it feels like plot armour will forever protect them from any lasting harm.


Domestic abuse thriller Typo was released on DVD and Digital on September 28th via Bayview Entertainment. This stars Melissa Hollett as Abbie, an aspiring writer in an abusive relationship thanks to her husband (Guy Barnes). Abbie's search for a way out of this leads to unexpected consequences.


Finally for today, an official trailer and stills have been released for the award winning short film Trick-or-Treat (winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Animated Film at the Cult Critic Movie Awards).
After leaving a school carnival a young boy is taught the true spirit of Halloween. This film is based on an award-winning book by Lindy Ryan. It is illustrated by Timea Gazdag, animated by Dan Walters, and features the voice of Sam Shearon.



Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Halloween Kills (2021) - Horror Film Review


I feel like I was one of the few people to get a vague sense of disappointment with 2018's Halloween. Initially upon leaving the cinema I was full of praise, but it had its issues. I guess chief of which is that I just do not like the character of Laurie Strode. This stems from Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later which in my opinion is the very worst in the entire series of films. I also didn't like the glut of comedy characters that appeared, especially ones who encounter Michael Myers and survive whilst wisecracking the whole way. Halloween Kills (again directed by David Gordon Green) fixed both these problems, and the title is very fitting as from films start to films end the Shape is on a seemingly unstoppable rampage. Spoilers for the first film unavoidably to follow.

This picks up immediately after Halloween with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis - Halloween), her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer - Halloween) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak - Halloween) fleeing Laurie's burning home on the back of a pick-up truck. They are dismayed to witness fire engines racing to the property to put out the blaze. They end up at the local hospital where for a time they believe they have finally killed Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney - Halloween as well as original Halloween Shape - Nick Castle). Meanwhile the fire crew discover a nasty surprise waiting for them in the basement of Laurie's home, Michael had managed to escape the blaze and is non too pleased. Starting with the team of firemen, he begins a trail of destruction across Haddonfield. The townspeople, led by original survivor Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall - The Dark Knight), feeling let down by the inadequate police response to the unfolding situation, set out in armed gangs to find and kill Myers, the mantra being "Evil Dies Tonight!".


It seems Halloween Kills may be the Marmite of the Halloween series, people seem to absolutely love it or really hate it. If you want a complex story with plenty of character development I could see this not being your favourite entry. However, if like me you want Michael Myers doing what he does best then this will indeed be for you. Halloween II, like this sequel, took place on the same night as the film that came before it. With that one however it was almost like a reset as the flow of the movie slowly built up again. This is a proper continuation, despite the trauma Michael endured (including losing several fingers, being shot in the jaw and stabbed in the shoulder), he is more deadly as ever. This is brought home to the viewers in the first standout scene. He emerges from the burning house to face a whole team of firefighters, most of them armed with fire axes, one even has a circular saw. In a brutal sequence he butchers the whole lot, fire axes get imbedded in faces, the circular saw gets turned onto its owners head, and Myers even imbeds his weapon in one poor firefighter before lifting the guy up in the air nearly one handed! This sets the standard that the rest of the movie follows. He racks up quite a body count, all of these victims are brutally dealt with. Memorable highlights include a kitchen knife stabbed into an eye socket, a 180 degree neck snap and a beautiful edited sequence towards the end that is full of close-up almost slow motion shots and somehow wonderful cinematography.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Chernobylite (2021) - Horror Video Game Review (XBox One)


Chernobylite
is a science fiction survival horror game that takes place within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. I have never played the Stalker series of video games but imagine this must share some similarities. One very cool thing this has going for it is that the various locations you travel to are actually 3D scans and recreations of the real exclusion zone in the Ukraine. Due to the way the games story is set out this is very accessible to dip in and out of. It was developed by The Farm 51, I own their previous game Get Even, but bounced right off it, I was hoping this one I would get on better with.

This takes place thirty years after the Chernobyl Disaster, with you taking the role of Ukrainian scientist Igor Khymynuk. After the disaster occurred he left the area, but in the recent past he began to experience strange dreams about his missing fiancée Tatyana (who vanished shortly before the 1986 disaster happened), and then after receiving a photo of her in the post he is given hope that she is somehow still alive, and so he returns to Chernobyl. The exclusion zone is under the control of a shady military organisation known as the NAR, so Igor hires two mercenaries and together they sneak into the central power plant where Igor used to work, and where he believes Tatyana would be. In this reality a strange material known as chernobylite began to grow in the exclusion zone, a by product of all the radiation. Igor had been studying this material and managed to develop a portal gun that is powered by the substance. His team manage to infiltrate the power plant and retrieve a sample, but they are then ambushed by an apparently supernatural figure known as the Black Stalker. In the chaos that follows, one of the mercenaries is killed, while Igor and the other one, Olivier escape into a portal. Igor realises to get back into the power plant and find Tatyana he is going to have to carry out a heist, to do that he will need to recruit a team of specialists, learn more about his enemies, and get the right tools for the job.

I was a bit put off when I heard that this was a survival game, however, playing on the normal difficulty I really didn't have any trouble with that aspect. The game is split into days, each day you can choose to go to one of the five areas in the game, either to scavenge supplies or to carry out a story mission. In a neat Chrono Trigger style concept you can actually attempt the heist at any point, though it can be seen as similar to the Mass Effect 2 suicide mission in that if you are not fully prepared you can expect to lose some team mates. By the time I did the heist I was around thirty days in, that included about nine days of grinding for materials. Base building was a bullet point about the game that I wasn't looking forward to. I hate base building as I find it so confusing. Here though it is a lot simpler than I feared, the actual base is already built, a concrete building that Igor has rented off local Stalker Mikhail. By gathering items in the areas you travel to you can build various machines. These can create lockpicks, be used to upgrade weapons, create healing items and more. There is a slight need to juggle in that the more machines you make, the more power is needed to run them, the more air filtration units are needed to provide clean air, and the more anti radiation devices are needed. This is balanced against the comfort of your team, by building beds, TVs, radios and plants you can raise the comfort level. It is all very slight and so I never struggled with this.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Red Pill (2021) - Horror Film Review


Red Pill 
describes itself as a political horror, something that I couldn't quite picture in my mind. I was happy to get a screener of this to check it out for myself. This was written and directed by Tonya Pinkins who also had a starring role here. Horror films directed by woman are much more rare than those directed by men, even more so to have a horror film coming from a black woman. I was interested to see what a feminine spin on the genre could produce.

Taking place in the run up to the 2020 American elections, this follows a group of friends who have headed deep into a 'red' state in order to canvas homes for votes. These friends include among them Cassandra (Pinkins), her boyfriend Bobby (Adesola A. Osakalumi), Rocky (Rubén Blades - Fear the Walking Dead), his wife Emelia (played by his real world wife Luba Mason), as well as spiritual Lily (Kathryn Erbe - Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and jokester Nick (Jake O'Flaherty). They have rented a house from which to base their operations but immediately things seem off, with Cassandra in particular getting bad vibes. These uneasy feelings are warranted, it turns out the house they are staying at is full of hidden cameras from which a strange urine drinking female cult of white supremacists watch, biding their time to strike at the group.

There were elements of Red Pill that worked and there were parts that didn't work as well. From a technical viewpoint there are some truly awful looking CG effects on display here. At one point a burnt corpse is on screen, it looked terrible, but rather than use a minimal shot to hide this it is instead on display for a full ten seconds or so. In another moment a whole bunch of insects are found to have gotten into the house, again these looked really bad and super imposed. I would have cut their inclusion entirely as it ripped me out of the film's story completely for a moment. Everything involving the CG was bad here, the effects used to simulate the hidden camera footage included. Luckily there are also some practical effects used here, these fare much better, the best looking effect coming from a character who gets shot with arrows.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology No.14 - October 16th 2021


The Holy trinity is finally complete at Rotting Zombie HQ as I have finally gotten my rotted claws on a Playstation 5 to sit alongside my Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. The PS5 is such an ugly console, I have no idea what they were going for with that hideous design, it's like the Sydney Opera House but melting. It's a good job that under the hood it is a lot better! Onto a small round-up of news, once again plucked from the congealed mass of flesh, hair and bone that is the bottom of my mail sack.

Acid Love is an Italian horror film that comes from Dario Almerighi. It arrived on DVD on August 21st thanks to Bayview Entertainment. A lonely man seeking an exit from the darkness of his hometown is trying to make enough money to do just that, via the use of the dark web. The man teams up with his criminal best friend and together they travel to the most darkest parts of the city. Hot on their heels are plenty of enemies, and away from their heels somewhat, far enough that they don't even realise, there is a mysterious disfigured woman who is taking stock of the duo's efforts.


Cult filmmaker Douglas Burke (a man whose surreal stream of consciousness film Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear has been put in the same bracket as The Room by some) has earlier this year released an audio adaptation of his novel The Dark Prophet. The press release includes the following synopsis: 'It has begun. Prophecy is unfolding, and a world is in jeopardy. A twisted tale of a troubled priest and a father racing against time to save his son. A group of secret organizations with one goal in mind: world domination. The will to kill for it. A hunger for lust, greed, sex, and murder.
Everything is at stake. Humanity has fallen, and it's Earth's final days. A fight between good and evil. Where a friend becomes a foe. Scripture has foretold of a dark prophet that will rise in Earth's final days, where the hunter becomes the hunted.
Time is running out for a world in peril. Only one man can stop it, or is it too late?
'. The Dark Prophet audio book is narrated by Dan Gold, from the novel written by Burke and Michael Gietz and can be brought here.


Finally for today, Stinger came to DVD and Digital on September 14th, again from Bayview Entertainment. This one is about an experimental top-secret military cargo that is lost at sea in a missing sub. A team are sent to investigate not realising the danger they are putting themselves in. The cover shows a giant scorpion, I would be pretty disappointed if the film didn't actually feature this creature at the size it appears to be there.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Devil Down South (2021) - Horror Documentary Review


Earlier this year I watched Malefice: A True Story of a Demonic Haunting for review. This was a documentary about paranormal investigator/demonologist Sean Austin's attempts to cleanse an allegedly haunted place from evil forces. Devil Down South is his latest documentary and this time around it is based on a case from Austin's past that he wrote about in his second book.

I figured this would be in a similar format to what came before, that of Austin and his colleagues on location trying to record evidence of the supernatural. Instead, this is focused squarely on a case from his past, one that he was involved in a lot, but only at a distance. It concerns a woman named Abby (the name of her and her family were altered to protect their identities), and how after practising black magic as a teen she appears to have opened herself up to evil forces. These evil forces plagued both her and her child and eventually even affected her second child.


The documentary was an hour and fifty minutes long and in that time it covers a whole host of subjects, all revolving around Abby. Starting with her troubled childhood and teenage years, then the events surrounding her first child, before eventually covering the tragic story of her second child and the revelations she found out about her family following this. The format for this documentary is that a lot of what is being told is recounted by talking heads, Abby, her son Alex (nine at the time the doc was made), her partner Andy, and family members all provide the evidence of what they experienced, with their faces hidden and voices distorted. This isn't a happy documentary, what happens isn't a neatly tied up story of horror and salvation from this horror. Instead this is a cautionary tale whose key message seems to be not to mess around with magic, the message that was maybe a little preachy. There is also a lot of religion throughout this, from the visions and dreams that Abby and Alex had of demons and angels, to Austin's firm belief in God. Even removing yourself from all that, what occurred wasn't fun for the people involved. Whether it was all due to mental health issues stemming from genetics or childhood trauma, or if it was actual genuine supernatural phenomenon doesn't really matter; these people believe in the reality of what happened.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Bad Ben (2016) - Horror Film Review


I have fallen into a Bad Ben rabbit hole it appears. Bad Ben is a found footage horror film that was directed, produced and edited by Nigel Bach who also plays the movie's sole character. Inexplicably the release of the ninth entry in the series; Bad Ben: Benign is just around the corner, surely this makes this indie series one of the most prolific found footage series around? I have a screener of the latest entry but I wanted to get up to speed and so chose the very first film in the series to get an idea of what would be in store to me. I figured the first would be the roughest, but despite being derivative, especially of Paranormal Activity, this was bizarrely watchable.

Bach plays Tom Riley, a grumpy middle aged man who has recently brought a house with the intention of sprucing it up and then selling it on in order to make a profit. He has decided to stay at the property while doing this, but he begins to experience supernatural occurrences, such as objects moving around on their own and doors slamming. Not wanting to waste his investment, Tom decides to stay and does everything he can think of to make the ghosts of the house, and in particular the titular 'Bad Ben' leave. However, as the intro spiel says, the recordings that make up the film were pieced together from footage recovered from Tom's phone, it seems he may not have been very successful.

Bad Ben falls extremely deeply into the old style of making found footage horrors. That Bach manages to carry the entire movie by himself is baffling, yet somehow he does. There always needs to be a good reason for footage to be filmed, yet here there isn't at all. Tom is constantly narrating as if he is making the videos for people to watch, yet at several points he admits to himself he has no idea why he is filming. At least him saying that meant I could see his incessant self recording to be a symptom of an underlying mental health issue. It also felt weird he had set up a ridiculous amount of cameras around the house, he says its for security but I felt it was a touch overdone. I imagined before watching this that it would be a small feature length, instead this is nearly ninety minutes, much of that is just Tom walking around not really doing anything of note. Just as I began to get the first feelings of boredom I noticed the film had crept into it's third act without me really noticing.

Monday, 11 October 2021

The Family (2021) - Horror Film Review


The Family
 is a psychological thriller that was directed and co-written by Dan Slater (Newborn). The central premise is something that I have definitely seen in other films, one in particular this had startling similarities to, yet frustratingly I can't reveal the name of that film. This is due to the fact that The Family holds a twist, a twist that I feel is purposely obvious to the viewer as within minutes of this opening I guessed exactly what it was. Where this film excels over the other much more well known one is that The Family exceeds expectations with fantastic atmosphere and a very competent cast of actors.

In what seems to be the early 1800s, a family live. Mother (Toni Ellwand - The Handmaid's Tale) and Father (Nigel Bennett - The Shape of Water) and their children, mute Evelyn (Yasmin MacKay), Elijah (Onyx Spark), feisty Abigail (Jenna Warren) and conflicted Caleb (Benjamin Charles Watson - The Killing) live on land surrounded by a magical boundary made out of bones. The children are told that some sort of apocalypse has happened, they, as worshipers of a God they call Etan were spared the fate of the rest of mankind who fell to the demon Abaddon. Life is harsh and cruel for the family, and after Elijah is banished as punishment for being too exhausted to work the land, Caleb starts to have doubts about the teachings that Father speaks of. The arrival of an outsider, a girl name Mary (Keana Lyn), brings a change in the dynamic of the family that sees the children slowly start to get the courage to rebel against the perceived truths of their world.

The Family feels like a cross between the film that shall not be named and The Witch. The later had a supernatural aspect to it that remained unconfirmed for much of the run time. Here, like the faith Mother and Father expect their children to have, the supernatural element is never confirmed. All the members appear to believe in Etan, and the children are very afraid of crossing the boundary of their land. The horror comes from the harsh life they are forced to experience. If Etan does exist he is a cruel God who expects tireless toil to be appeased. This God is meant to be a kind one, but this runs counter to how the parents, Father in particular, act. This is where some of the great acting comes in. I loved the dynamic between Father and Mother, the off hand comments they say to each other. While Father is the dominant antagonistic force in the film, there are moments where it seems that Mother was the one who changed him into this cruel person. There isn't a lot of dialogue and that makes this into a slow burn. This however is slow burn done well, unlike something such as The Secret of Sinchanee that became boring by dragging out events. Here there is enough fed to the viewer to make this almost entirely engaging.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Death Screams (1982) - Horror Film Review


It has only been in the past couple of years that I started to tap into slasher films of the 1980s, and I am so glad that I did. Maybe it is because I am getting older but I have such a bitter sweet pang of nostalgia for decades gone past. Death Screams is a relatively obscure slasher from 1982 (the year of my birth). Directed by David Nelson, with a story written by Paul C. Elliott, this poorly paced horror isn't great by any stretch of the imagination. Watching this in modern day however I found it to be endlessly enjoyable, its many problems are part of the charm in my opinion.

The locals of a small town are enjoying the last day of a carnival. Among those in attendance are a group of teenage friends, including new couple Bob (Curt Rector) and Kathy (Andria Savio - Death Chase), Sandy (Jody Kay), jokester Diddle (John Kohler), promiscuous Ramona (Jennifer Chase) and their leader, Tom (Josh Gamble). Unknown to everyone in town there is a maniac on the loose, who is slowly racking up a sizeable body count. With the teens going out to the river for the party, their night of fun gets cut short by the machete wielding psycho.

Death Screams starts off both well and weird by having a double murder as its prologue. I say weird as the couple are killed in a hard to decipher way at the same moment a railway train steams past. Their corpses are thrown into the river, as the bodies sink in slow motion, the intro credit sequence plays out. Going from this I expected lots of deaths but it is in fact thirty eight minutes later before the next victim meets their end. There is a strange pacing issue that plagued the movie all the way up to the end. You would expect the third act to be more bloody and action packed than what had come before, and you would be right. However, it almost felt like the filmmakers ran out of time, the kills increase hugely in frequency, and the reveal and defeat of the antagonist happens within minutes. Amusingly when one of the survivors questions why the killer did what they did, they are met with a simple "I don't know" before it cuts to end credits. It felt like the people making the film also had no idea what the motivations of the killer were. I admit it was only reading a plot guide after watching the film that I realised I didn't even pick up on the correct identity of the killer, mistaking them for someone else entirely!

Friday, 8 October 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology 13 (October 8th 2021)


A brief news round-up today, with some stories plucked from the very bottom of my bloody news sack. It really needs a big shake up to get the best stories out within a sensible time frame.

Back in July an official trailer came out for Glenn Berggoet's Paralyzed with Fear. This horror stars Kane Hodder, Haidyn Harvey, and Andrea Rabold and has recently been acquired by Bayview Entertainment. In the horror a 15th-century demon is unleashed on a household of women. Eventually a preacher gets involved who is determined to stop the demon.


Indie zombie film The Last Ones came to DVD and Digital on August 10th from Bayview Entertainment. This is about two men (played by Algernon D'Ammassa and Mark Ocegueda) who team up after believing themselves to be the very last people left alive after a zombie apocalypse. The arrival of a mysterious woman (played by Marcelle Bowman) heralds startling revelations. In my review I gave this a respectable 7/10 and stated "...something really quite enjoyable with the bleak (and) serious world it creates."


Finally for today, paranormal thriller Hum was acquired by Freestyle Digital Media and was released on North American VOD platforms on August 3rd. This was written and directed by Henry Johnston, with the cast of actors including Tyler Ross, Andrew Oliveri, Sonaz Izadi, Sierra Miller and Bradley Smith. Johnston says of the movie "...is about how one community can be shaken to its core by an unexplainable event; how easily our belief systems and foundations can be upended."

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Taking Shape (2020) by Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins - Horror Book Review


When I first heard of Taking Shape I knew it was something I needed to own. To give the book it's full title I should also include the line underneath 'Developing Halloween from Script to Scream'. Of course from that it should be obvious this explores the history of the Halloween films, I was pleasantly surprised to see it even included a section on the latest Halloween film (Halloween Kills wasn't out in 2020 so obviously that is not a part of this).

Taking Shape covers all eleven currently released films, so Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie's Halloween, Rob Zombie's Halloween II, and Halloween 2018. Each film gets its own chapter that falls into a familiar pattern that made this easy to read book a joy. Starting off talking about the creation process behind the film, usually with tales of woe, it then provides a plot summary. This last part became more interesting as not only are the theatrical plot summaries given but also other versions that may exist, such as Rob Zombie's director cuts. Following on from this there is a look into the most notable deleted and alternate scenes as well as changes and extra dialogue that only ever existed on paper. It then ends with one or two interview with key people who worked on the film, and finally, a page of quotes from film critics at the time for each movie.

I am a gigantic fan of this series, even though the zombie genre is my favourite, if I was forced to say what I though the best horror film of all time was I would say the original Halloween. As one of the interviewed people say in this book, Halloween isn't just a classic horror film, it is a classic film in its own right. Slashers to this day borrow ideas from this, and without it Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and countless others just would not exist in the form they do. As many will know, the storyline is a bit of a mess in that there are now five different realities going on throughout the eleven movies. My personal favourite was the original timeline that brought together the first six films (excluding Season of the Witch in which Halloween just exists as a film). My least favourite was H20: Twenty Years Later that just felt like a poor copy of Scream. I'm getting off point, needless to say, it was fascinating to read all the behind the scenes decisions that led to how the various films turned out. Whether it was the huge problems The Curse of Michael Myers faced (problems so bad that the movie's director, Joe Chappelle has refused to ever talk about this film in an interview!), or the frustration's Rob Zombie had of his vision constantly being diluted by studio interference, and the reasons why he returned for a sequel after the bad time he had making his first one.

It is hard to see what a non-fan of the series would make of the book. It is extremely easy reading, helped by a large book size. The 377 page book may not include any photos but it is full of simple silhouette shapes that fit whichever movie the chapter they appear on is about. I would say that occasionally it can all get a bit confusing reading the plot summaries, especially when more than one is given. I knew what the films were like, but I don't know if someone who had never seen them would be able to decipher what they were about. As a fan though this book really hit the spot, so much so that I have a really strong urge to watch through all eleven yet again. There is actually a sequel to this, Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequels, this one as the title implies has a much deeper look into the various pitched Halloween sequels that never got made. They are all referenced in Taking Shape but I imagine they would be greatly expanded in this second book. I had an absolute blast reading this book, endlessly entertaining, and even the interviews were riveting. I usually find reading interviews as dull as dishwater, it's why I don't often include them on my blog, but these ones were full of insight. I loved how the interviewer remains ever neutral despite having obvious opinions on the movies. If you have even a passing interest in the Halloween series then this is an essential book to read.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology 12 (Music special) - October 6th 2021


For todays news anthology I thought I would focus entirely on music news. Most the news I get in my inbox is to do with that and so I always have to skim through to see if it is really relevant to a horror focused site or not. It all depends on the genre, but also on the vibe of any tracks that are new. My music tastes haven't really changed much since my young adult years, I like what I like and that's that.

Dark electronic duo, MAN1K1N have released a new single, Don't Let Me Try. It was created after some personal loss, coupled with a year and a half of solitude, the press releases describes the track as a time capsule. The duo say of it "The heavy solitude of this past year during quarantine was a poignant influence in the moment this song exists in. Too often, suicidal ideation is regarded as a trope. But the anguish felt in those private moments is threatening and devastatingly lonely." In support of this release, MAN1K1N will be headlining this year's Endless Nights Vampire Ball in Salem, MA on October 16th. On a side note, back when I was doing my media studies A-Level decades back I had to design an album cover for a fake band, the band I created was called 'Manikin Jam'. Not anything to do with this news, was just a memory that got unlocked while writing this.

Industrial band FleischKrieg put out a video for their single Reach back in July, a track that features goth/industrial artist Nuda. The band say it is about how "we humans have a lot to learn about what's really going on in the greater scheme of things". Reach is going to be on the band's new album, Herzblut, which is due out this month. The sound reminded me a bit of the almighty Rammstein which is no bad thing at all.

The Man from Alphabet have done a cover of The Dickies punk rock song, Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The video for the track was directed and edited by Nina Hirten with production services by Oh Just Peachy Studios. The video finds the band being chased by the titular Killer Klowns and was nostalgically amusing. Killer Klowns from Outer Space was one of the very first horror films I ever saw back in the late eighties. Today's news post really is turning into a trip down memory lane!


Finally for this music special blog post, Mobile, AL based heavy rock band Love the Hate released a single for Solid Ground in July. The video was directed and filmed by Thomas Crane of KillDevil Films and takes place in Mobile's 'Outlaw Mansion'. This place has been coined 'Alabama's most haunted house' and in a spooky afterword, this mansion apparently burned down in mysterious circumstances shortly after the video was shot. Maybe the spirits didn't like all the noise?

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

The Secret of Sinchanee (2021) - Horror Film Review


I had a really bizarre time while watching The Secret of Sinchanee. For whatever reason I just could not take in what I was watching, after an hour had passed I realised with some creeping dread that I would be hard pressed to even put together a full sentence that explained what the plot was. At one point my computer crashed and I had to reset it, but for the life of me I could not work out where I had got up to in the movie. It's a shame, and I think that shame is on me as this was competently made and with the exception of a couple of the younger roles it seemed to be well acted. Usually I am fine with films that are slow burning, but for me the glacier pace of this film just didn't work at keeping me within its world.

It all starts off with a black screen with white text. This explains that there was a tribe of Native Americans known as the Sinchanee, this tribe were mixed race and found to be immune to all the diseases that other tribes suffered after exposure to the European settlers. They ended up nearly being wiped out thanks to a devil worshipping cult that came over to the Americas with the first settlers. Fast forward to 1995 and a boy called Will, out in the woods with his sister disturbs an old grave site and takes an arrow head he finds there. It turns out this may not have been a wise move as the boy's family life takes a dark turn, perhaps due to some kind of curse. Now, in modern day and after his estranged father dies, Will (Steven Grayhm who also wrote and directed this), returns to his childhood home after the house ends up his property. Meanwhile Detective Carrie (Tamara Austin) and her partner (and ex romantic partner) Drew (Nate Boyer) are investigating the death of a woman found with strange marks branded into her skin.


I was banking on the third act bringing me up to speed on what had been going on. There is a definite supernatural element to the movie, as it seems an old demon (voiced by Mark Oliver) is residing in the woods and has the power to corrupt vulnerable people. As a side note the effects used on the voice made this character sound like Dr. Claw from the old Inspector Gadget cartoons, so that was the image that popped into my mind whenever it spoke. There are various subplots going on, obviously there is the detective investigation that links up the various subplots, then there is also Will's descent to the dark side as he becomes influenced by the devil. Then there are frequent flashbacks to 1995 where the trouble all began for Will's family. Thankfully the acting is one of the stronger elements. It was interesting to learn during the end credits that twelve different military veterans worked on the film. It gives the parts that deal with PTSD a more realistic feel to them. That may have been where some of the disconnect came for me. The film is told so seriously and comes off almost like a drama. But then there are the supernatural elements that didn't seem to fit the vibe that well. Early on there almost seemed the suggestion that everything going on was due to mental health reasons, but the firm step into the side of fictional horror dispels this.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

All Hallows' Eve (2013) - Horror Anthology Film Review


I think the danger of me being left to my own devices and choosing the films I will watch for review is that as I am such a huge fan of anthologies that is what I naturally gravitate towards. Earlier this week was my review of Creepshow 2 and now comes a review of All Hallow's Eve. This was written and directed by Damien Leone and features his wonderfully creepy creation, Art the Clown. This clown first originated in a 2008 short film and proved to be so popular that he went on to star in his own short (both of which make up segments here), then from there he was made into a central antagonist in this anthology, before finally getting his own proper feature length film with 2016's Terrifier. That proved to be popular enough that a sequel is currently in the process of being made.

In a somewhat refreshing change the wrap-around story isn't merely there as a way to introduce the short films, instead it shares roughly the same amount of screen time as any of the three segments. In it, Sarah (Katie Maguire - Terrifier) is babysitting two children of her friends, and they have just returned from trick or treating. One of them is sorting through his treat bag when he notices a strange VHS tape in with his sweets, though has no memory of anyone giving him this. Him and his sister Tia (Sydney Freihofer) beg Sarah to let them watch the tape, figuring it will be a horror film. Watching it they find a disturbing short film. This wrap-around eventually has Sarah putting the kids to bed while she decides to carry on watching the film. With each film that passes more and more strange things start occurring within the house.
As a set up for the different segments this did a tremendous job, in fact I preferred this to two of the actual segments. It's Halloween for one, and that is always a great time to set a horror film, but it is also the best shot and most brightly lit part of All Hallows' Eve. It culminates in a moment that brought to mind the end of The League of Gentlemen's Christmas special, it was obvious this is where things would go but it was suitably messed up and the perfect way to finish. The three segments themselves are a bit more patchy in quality, likely due to them pulling on some of Leone's earlier works.

The first is eleven minutes and titled The 9th Circle, it concerns a woman waiting in an underground railway station's waiting room. She notices a man dressed as a creepy clown (Mike Giannelli). It isn't long before she has been attacked by him and drugged. Waking up deep in the underground with a chain around her neck she encounters other kidnapped woman, together they make a descent into the dark abandoned tunnels in order to try and find the source of their chains so that they can figure out how to free themselves. In general I liked the idea behind this one, there is a trippy nightmarish vibe, and despite featuring the first appearance of Art he only appears in the very first scene. This includes no end of mutant and grotesque masked wearing creatures. It had some good moments, the initial train station scene was excellent, as was the scene set in the room with the chained women. The special effects did leave a lot to be desired, amputations and a slit open belly looked extremely fake, but I did think the protagonist (played by Kayla Lian) was good in her role.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology 11 (Acort International special) - October 2nd 2021


A spooky news round-up today as it is now officially Halloween month. and starting with some news of Acort International films available for international acquisition. Red Pill is described as a political horror. Directed, written, and produced by Tonya Pinkins (who also acts in this), it is about a group of progressives who head to the south of America to canvas for votes for the 2020 U.S election. Things don't work out well at the place they have rented and soon find themselves under attack by a rich white supremacist cult. 


Harvey is a 'suspenseful comedy' that is about the titular Harvey who wakes up after a night of drinking to discover a man murdered by bowling ball in the lobby of his former workplace (obviously a bowling alley). This stars Darius Autry, Allison Meister, Johnny Alonso, Brin O'Brien and Andrew Rogers.


Finally is Lockdown: 2025. I never know what sort of audience films that are inspired by the events of the past year or so will find. Regardless, in this one a family are trapped at home after martial law is declared due to a highly infectious virus. They find themselves facing danger from both outside and within the family home.


Other notable Acort horror films include among them The Box, The Connection, Death of a Ghost Hunter, Bleeding Hearts and Dead of the Nite.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Creepshow 2 (1987) - Horror Anthology Film Review


Despite my love of anthology films I had never actually seen the original Creepshow films. I had seen Creepshow 3 from 2006, but that was a cheap cash in, using the name to try and get increased sales. Creepshow 2 was directed by Michael Gornick (Tales from the Darkside TV series) with the stories written by Stephen King (Needful Things) and a screenplay by legend George Romero (Day of the Dead).

This horror anthology brings together three different stories as well as a wrap-around segment. The wrap-around takes the form of a cartoon and has a young boy getting the latest issue of Creepshow off of The Creep (Tom Savini in the live action parts of this wrap-around). Over the course of the film this kid gets caught up with some local bullies, but with a recurring theme being about people getting their just desserts things don't go according to plan for them.
The first segment is titled Old Chief Wood'nhead in which a Mom and Pop store is struggling after the town they are based in fell on hard times. The owner, Ray (George Kennedy) wants to help out the local community and so doesn't mind using his savings to keep the place running. One day his shop is robbed, with the crime getting out of hand. Luckily it turns out the giant wooden Native American statue that guards the store has ways of dealing with those who would harm the owners. Of course anything that references Native Americans can be seen as not so politically correct nowadays but apart from a brief moment of the cartoon version of The Creep dressing up like one this didn't seem too disrespectful. Like many of these stories this one was a morality tale, included some nice practical special effects, and a cool kill that is shown via shadow.


The Raft is the second story and was the most basic. In this one four teens swim out to a floating platform in the middle of a remote lake. When one of them is dragged under the water by what appears to be a sentient oil slick the others must try and survive a similar grizzly fate. I thought the effects for the slick grabbing its victims looked fantastic, in a Cabin Fever type way the victims seem to be having their skin dissolved when grabbed by the oily tendrils. While the plot was simple it was my second favourite and ends on a darkly comedic note.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for September 2021


After re-watching The Matrix and experiencing an unexpected bittersweet feeling of remembering the 2000s I have decided to try and live in the moment more. After all, there will come a day at some point in the future in which I look back on the 2020s with as much a feel of loss and regret as I currently do for the eighties, nineties and two thousands. With that in mind onto the news for September.

New horror comedy The New Hands has its world premiere on 1st October at the Silicon Beach Film Festival held at Hollywood's Chinese Theater. This was written and directed by Brandon Scullion and based on his short film of the same name. It stars Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sally Kirkland, Stephen Wu, Lexi Graboski and Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) and is about a man who has it in his head that if he replaces his ruined hands with parts taken from people he has killed then he will be able to somehow win back his ex-girlfriend.


A teaser trailer came out in June for horror film Night of the Zomghouls. Directed by Will Collazo Jr. this stars James Duvall (Independence Day), Sadie Katz (The Amityville Harvest), Mike Ferguson (Animal Kingdom), Julie Ann Prescott (Teacher Shortage), and Shawn C Phillips (Dead Ant). The synopsis was set out like a line of dialogue from the film's killer, Jack Rogers. It reads like a mass murderer sacrifices himself to the devil and returns in the form of being able to possess animatronics at a children's birthday place. Sounds all very Five Nights at Freddy's to me.

The Green Sea stars Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) as an American writer based in remote Ireland. Past memories of hers start to mix together with the fantasy world of the novel she is writing and this causes a change in her life when she encounters Kid (Hazel Doupe - Float Like a Butterfly) who happened to also be the protagonist from her book. This was written and directed by Randal Plunkett and released on 13th July in North America. This indie film can be found on a variety of VOD and Digital platforms.

Psychedelic horror The Invisible Mother is due to have its Digital debut on October 12th in North America via Freestyle Digital Media. The film is about a lesbian stoner and her grandparents who are being haunted by the spirits of an old photo album. This eventually results in her grandfather being taken by an entity from a Victorian photograph and so the stoner must team up with a bunch of random people in order to try and stop him and everyone else by being taken by 'the invisible mother'. This crazy but cool sounding indie movie was written and directed by Jacob Gillman and Matthew Diebler and stars Fayelyn Bilodeau, Debra Wilson, Kiersten Warren, Richard Rhiele, Helen Slayton-Hughes and Kale Clauson.

Gothic rock band October Noir have released their new full-length release, Fate, Wine & Wisteria with the themes of the album being about lust, loss, love, pain and arrogance. Fittingly the album includes thirteen tracks, and features the recently released single, Windows. Having listened to the single I can confirm the band sound a lot like Type O Negative.


Another gothic rock band, this time in the form of Black Angel who earlier this year released their third studio album, Prince of Darkness. The concept of the album is to take the listener on a journey alongside the album's titular Prince as he rampages through 10th century England. The album offers traditional gothic rock alongside a tinge of 80's goth.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Nightbooks (2021) - Children's Horror Film Review


I chose Nightbooks for review knowing nothing about it. I have a habit on Netflix of adding almost anything to my Netflix queue, so much so there are hundreds and hundreds of films and shows on it. Nightbooks is a children's horror film directed by David Yarovesky (Brightburn) and based on the book by J.A White. It seems Neflix does like to make films out of books as this follows on from the Fear Street trilogy that was released earlier this year. While this may be aimed at children (having a PG rating), I think I would have been terrified watching this as a child!

After an unknown incident Alex (Winslow Fegley) angrily rips horror film posters off of his bedroom walls and throws them, along with a heap of horror story books he has written into a rucksack and sneaks out of his apartment, all this to the accompiment of his parents argue about how weird he is in the background. The boy gets in the elevator but it breaks down, opening up on a strange floor of the apartment block he lives in. While walking down a passageway he spies an open doorway, one of his favourite films The Lost Boys is playing on a TV, while there is a fresh slice of pumpkin pie on a plate next to it. Unable to resist Alex enters the apartment but after trying the food passes out. He awakens to discover he is a prisoner of an evil witch named Natacha (Krysten Ritter - Jessica Jones). He soon finds another child, Yasmin (Lidya Jewett) who is also trapped. Both the children are forced to work as slaves for the witch, but for Alex, upon learning he writes scary stories he is told he must tell Natacha a scary story every single night. With the threat of death should his stories not scare, Alex begins to try and find a way to escape the witches magical apartment.

As a child I was quite cowardly. I did love monsters and have memories of constantly getting my parents to rent out the VHS of The Monster Squad, but I think Nightbooks would have been too much for me. Rather than pander to a younger audience this instead relies a lot on the techniques that adult horror films use. Light and shadow, partially glimpsed figures and swiftly edited shots are all impressive in creating a feel of horror. Sure, there isn't much actual peril the children are in, threatened with being transformed into living statues did seem like a fate worse than death but nothing much happens to them. Natacha isn't designed to look scary, more she has the appearance of someone dressing up in a witch costume for Halloween, but she certainly doesn't come across as nice in the slightest. This comes to the detriment of her character. While later on towards the film's finale there is a backstory provided for her, for the most part she is a kid version of a bad guy, bad for the sake of being bad without any concrete motivation for being so. I guess looking deeper it could be a comment about how sometimes people who are abused end up becoming abusers themselves but this evil for evil's sake element left her feeling a bit one dimensional.