Wednesday, 31 March 2021

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


Life marches inexorably forward and I find myself once again faced with a bumper news post to write. I started the year with the intention to write seven posts a week, but I came to a realisation last week that this was leaving me with not much of a weekend left to relax. So, I took the decision to cut down my posts to five a week, giving me Monday to be a man of leisure. On the pandemic front I was fortuitous to be working for a company whose staff were eligible for the vaccine due to the nature of the work, so I can happily state I have now had my first dose, even if the side effects stayed with me for an entire week. Anyway, who cares about me, let's bring out the news...

New horror comic, The Mugwump Corporation issue #1 is now available via ComiXology. The comic is about loner Marybeth Callen who wants nothing more than to find a friend. She finds one, but they transform her into a cannibal monster. I love the art style and colours in this one, has a unique look to it. For more details check out here.
A Disgusting Supermarket of Death by author James C. Harberson III (co-author of graphic novel Stay Alive) is now available on Amazon. This is a comedy horror collection of '...hard-boiled shorts about satanic Christmas movies, performance art euthanasia, child sacrifice skincare, and other demented goodness'. Check here to pick up a copy.
Killer Raccoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark made the list of eligible films for The Oscars for 2021, while it never ended up getting nominated for any of the categories this was still a feat I found pretty cool.
Horror sci-fi film Mandao Returns has now been released on Tubi TV. I said of this one in my 7/10 review "..as a movie to put on to just forget about the real world this works as pleasant escapism."

The animated violent time-loop horror To Your Last Death has so far picked up 34 wins since its world premiere at Frightfest. These include Best Feature at the Pasadena International Film Festival, Best Director from Horrorhound, and Best Horror Feature at the Phoenix International Film Festival. Reviewing this in September last year I gave it 9/10 and said "...the animation was attractive also, it is never smooth, but that made for a more strange and creepy look that felt like an animated graphic novel." This is currently free to stream on Amazon Prime, and can be bought or rented on various digital HD platforms as well as Blu-ray.

Voyagers, the sci-fi thriller is coming soon to UK cinemas. This was written and directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) and stars Tye Sheridan (The X-Men franchise), Lily-Rose Depp (Savage), Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Chanté Adams (Roxanne Roxanne), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Game of Thrones), Viveik Kalra (Blinded by the Light), Archie Madekwe (Midsommar), Quintessa Swindell (Trinkets), Madison Hu (Bizaardvark), and Colin Farrel (The Gentlemen).
In this film a group of young men and women have been sent on an expedition to colonise a distant planet. After revelations about their mission are discovered they go against their training, and life on the ship descends into chaos. 


This next one is not so much horror, but it did seem unique so thought it would be worth a mention. Starfunk and the Astral Pioneers is described as 'the first feature film made about the Funk music genre whose story takes place in outer space'. The creator, Glenn Towery, having won awards for the screenplay has decided this space fantasy motion picture is going to be part of a crowdfunding campaign so he can get funds to create the movie himself. The Kickstarter campaign is due to run in May. You can check out the website here.

I set myself a limit of an hour and a half to write this months news post, and so finishing with some music news now. A Cloud of Ravens (great name) have released their new album, Another Kind of Midnight on Cleopatra Records. Check out the track for this Darkwave duo's single When it Comes below. I have enough emails to fill up an exclusive music only news post so maybe I will do that in a week or so.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Slutty the Clown and Death Shock - Horror Film News


For today's news post we have details of two different upcoming films from director Joe Cash (She Dogs of the SS, Jezebel), both of which are going to be released by Vipco and Troma. Short film, Slutty the Clown, which is the first in a planned trilogy, and Death Shock which is a remake and reimagining of the 1981 film of the same name.

Slutty the Clown stars Claire Bacon as the titular character she created for her modeling, and which was expanded with the help of Cash in order to bring this character to the film world.
In the film a group of urban explorers are exploring the ruins of an old factory when they find a strange room full of toys that they promptly trash. This turns out to be a bad move as the factory is home to Slutty, an insane woman who dresses like a clown and who has a penchant for sexual violence. Along with Bacon other actors in the film include Lauren Annetts, Lili Thorpe, Richard Bacon, Eve Bamfield and horror icons Ari Lehman (Clown Motel: Spirits Arise, Friday the 13th) and Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger).
With an estimated budget of just £500 and filmed in less than a week this UK based film has a lovely retro exploitation vibe to it. I've seen a rough cut and thought the setting in particular was fantastic, while the small part by Lehman was a highlight, I loved the delivery of his lines. The physical release announcement trailer can be seen on YouTube, and the film will be released by Troma on VOD via Watch Troma.
The sequel is titled Slutty the Clown II: Strapped On and is due to be filmed in the summer. This will see Claire Bacon reprise her role and will feature cameos from James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ari Lehman, Lloyd Kaufman and Roger Jackson (Scream).

Death Shock is due to start filming towards the end of the year, with a 2022 release planned. This is going to be a feature length remake and reimagining of the 1981 exploitation cult classic that was summed up as 'sex and black magic in the Norwich countryside. Check out the cool poster for the remake below.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Confessions of a Haunting... (2021) - Short Horror Film Review


Over the past year Andrew J.D Robinson (We Are the MissingThe Becky Carmichael Fan Club) has produced a few microshorts, the latest one of which is Confessions of a Haunting... which he both wrote and directed. This three minute horror takes the form of a recorded video message and features just the one onscreen character, actress, Julie Mainville (We Are the Missing, Butchers).

Mainville plays a mother who is recording a video message to someone unknown. In the message she talks about a strained relationship with her father, and that even after he was gone this strained relationship continued.

The set-up of a video message lends itself well to a short horror, and thankfully a good protagonist was chosen in the form of Mainville whose character speaks with conviction. There are some good lines here, in particular one stood out "Horror is being afraid of losing something...true horror is knowing you had lost something" which in the context of what is being spoken about was quite effective. The supernatural element of this short comes towards the end and made for something that was different to the typical jump scare you might expect, instead more of an optimistic feel was gone for, which I hadn't expected.

Regardless of the direction this went to, it managed to tell a contained story well, especially in such a short timeframe. This succeeded due to the actress used. Confessions of a Haunting... is currently on YouTube so definitely check it out.

SCORE:



Friday, 26 March 2021

The Endless (2017) - Horror Film Review


After enjoying the 2012 indie horror film Resolution so darn much the other week I just had to check out the 2017 spiritual sequel The Endless. What I liked most about the first film was the pervasive sense of dread and the all encompassing mystery of just what on Earth was happening. This time around, the directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead play the part of the protagonists, with Benson again being responsible for the story. This worked fantastically as they happened to have tiny cameos in Resolution so were able to reprise these roles and build on their characters. There isn't really anyway around it, there will be spoilers for the first movie as the twist ending plays an integral part in this one. If you have yet to see Resolution go do so, it was a brilliant horror.

Ten years after Justin (Benson) and his younger brother Aaron (Moorhead) escaped an alleged death cult they receive a strange videotape in the mail. The tape features one of the cult members, Anna (Callie Hernandez - Alien: Covenant, Blair Witch) telling the men that she would always be waiting for their return. Surprised that the cult hadn't imploded, and completely disillusioned with the harsh life they have experienced living in the city, Aaron convinces his brother to take him back there. He explains he needs to visit in order to get some closure and to be able to properly move on with his life. The brothers arrive to find that nothing there seems to have changed over the past decade, even the members there do not seem to have aged. Aaron is overjoyed to be back, with it increasingly seeming like his brothers' warning stories about cult life were not completely true. Justin meanwhile is ill at ease, he always felt there was something off with the place and that feeling is compounded with his return when he begins to experience a series of unexplainable events.


Watching The Endless I was struck by two things. Firstly that this was way more than a spiritual sequel, this definitely takes place in the same film universe and even features a bunch of returning actors. It also become apparent that that delicious layer of persistent dread from Resolution was missing. For the first forty minutes or so this really bothered me. The film was great, there was no doubt about that, it just felt like this was a far more friendly and chilled adventure. That dread never did return, however by building on the mythos Resolution established this became something that felt like there was endless mystery to it. As the minutes ticked on I became desperate to find some sort of...well, some sort of resolution to the tale. I pondered if the revelations shown here somehow impacted on the effectiveness of that first films unknowable story, and by actually showing what had become of the protagonists of the first film it did a tiny bit. I had heard they featured somewhere within this but I expected a throwaway mention at best, instead they are not only get mentioned by several different characters but then we are treated to a couple of meaty scenes featuring these fantastic characters, the original actors reprising their roles in a way that made their scenes feel like a little bit of joyous fan service.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Bad Land (2007) and The Dead Half (2017) - Horror Film News


News on a couple of HNN Presents releases for today. First up is Bad Land that is directed by Ron McLellon and stars Jennifer Cudnik, West Cummings, and Beth Kenner and is available from Bayview Entertainment. This is about a group of college students who accidentally go onto the property of a family of sinister rednecks. The family, wanting to keep their secrets safe from outsiders begin to target the students.

Another HNN Presents release is The Dead Half, also available via Bayview Entertainment. The synopsis for this one concerning a filmmaker who hopes to get make a name for himself by filming a documentary from within an abandoned house that was once a clinic run by a bizarre doctor and his twin daughters. The filmmaker, along with some friends, plan to stay overnight in the property, an idea that turns out to be terrible when it becomes apparent that something very evil inhabits the place.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Witness Infection (2021) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review


The award winning Witness Infection is a comedy zombie horror film that comes from director Andy Palmer (Funhouse Massacre). While billed as a comedy I struggled to find any part of this that was funny, despite the horror here there is a bit of a light hearted tone I guess. It's a shame but I found the best part of this to be the film's title itself.

Carlo (Robert Belushi - How I Met Your Mother, Devil's Due) is the son of a former mob boss whose family were moved to a small town by the witness protection agency. Due to an error a second mob family were also moved there and there is trouble brewing between them. Carlo is told by his father the solution for their troubles is for him to marry the daughter of their rival. However, Carlo, who is a dog groomer, is sweet on his best friend and fellow dog groomer, Gina (Jill-Michele Melean). Wanting to do the right thing by his family Carlo decides to head to the rival mob families mansion in order to agree to the marriage, he brings along Gina and their friend Vince (Vince Donvito) for support. This all takes place on a day in which unknown to them contaminated sausages have infected large portions of the towns population, the infection turning the victims into flesh hungry undead...


For a zombie film this sure takes a while to actually show any undead. Outside of the prologue it is a good half hour before any rotters are seen, and that is only a fleeting look, it's three quarters of an hour before they become the central point of the plot. This slow build up didn't do the film any favours, not helped by the generic Italian American characters who are full of swearing, insults, and tracksuits. Belushi was fine as the protagonist, his character was a good person even if there wasn't much compelling to him. The characters of Gina and Carlos had little on screen chemistry which made it hard to believe they were in love with each other. Cheesy music is played over their scenes to try and create this illusion but it never really worked. The music in general wasn't that well suited, the action scenes often had bombastic dramatic music playing that didn't really fit the tone that well.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Entombed (2020) and My Autopsy (2020) - Horror Film News

Post apocalyptic horror Entombed was released on DVD and Digital on March 16th from Bayview Entertainment. This Kjell Hammerø directed film stars Martine Johansen, Grethe Mikaelsen and Herbrand Larsen. The synopsis is that in the near future a pandemic has brought about the collapse of civilisation. Seamus, a man on the run, discovers an underground shelter which he thinks will grant him safety. However, he soon finds out that he is not alone and that things may be even more dangerous than up on the surface.



Also from Bayview Entertainment is Holly Mollohan's My Autopsy which stars Dominic Cancelliere, Joseph Moreland and Hunter O'Harrow. This drama is about a woman named Rachel who is so desperate for love that she stumbles into an abusive relationship. Even after escaping this relationship she is haunted by the memories of her abuser. Described as 'sex, drugs, rock and roll, and stream of consciousness poetry with a dreamlike twist' this movie is available to buy now.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Everybody Gets Stabbed (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review


I'm having a bed day today due to some flu type side effects of having the Covid vaccine and so I thought rather than waste the day I would instead watch of bunch of movies I've been sent for review. First off was the Australian indie comedy horror film Everybody Gets Stabbed. This was the directorial debut of Levon Polinelli who also co-wrote this alongside the movies two main actors, Daniel Buckle and Nick Pages-Oliver. To do a lazy summary this film is basically an indie hipster version of Scream if the antagonists were the main characters.

Best friends Clive (Pages-Oliver) and Desmond (Buckle) have decided to kill all their friends for reasons that are a lot lamer than the ones they initially provide. Desmond is a closet gay man, indirectly suggesting early on that the pent up stress of hiding his secret has led him down this dark path. Clive on the other hand suggests his reasons are that everybody likes him, yet secretly he is just a plain nasty person. As the body count ramps up the two attempt to frame one of their friends for the crimes, and as the tension between the two killers increases one of them begins to wonder just how far is too far.

I expected Everybody Gets Stabbed to be mean spirited in its comedic elements. Having obvious bad guys as the leads meant things are always shown from their perspective. Strangely these two are quite interesting leads in how normal they come across. They are not likeable, yet neither are they unlikeable, the chilled, laid back and consequence free actions they take are at odds with the bloody bodycount they ramp up. This spreads across all the characters with Clive and Desmond's friends mainly being made up of undeveloped characters. It makes the. Their roles can be seen as a commentary on white male privilege, both believe their actions are right and are too flawed to see the problem really is with them. 

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Resolution (2012) - Horror Film Review


I have long bemoaned the fact that horror films just do not scare me anymore. Even ones touted as 'scariest film ever made' etc leave me cold, even if they still happen to be good movies outside of the ability to give fear. I stumbled across Resolution after reading an article that mentioned the 2017 horror film The Endless. The article (about the best horror films to watch on Netflix) in its description for The Endless said to really get the most out of the film you should watch Resolution, as it was a spiritual sequel to that one. Boy am I glad I did as this managed to maintain a pervasive sense of chilled terror from beginning to end. The fact that something here is obviously not right, yet there is no real indication as to just what is not right led to my mind thinking up all sorts of unknown horror. I have seen this described as an indie The Cabin in the Woods and there are enough meta moments contained here to support that theory.

One day Michael (Peter Cilella - Dementia) receives a video that shows his former best friend; Chris (Vinny Curran - Spring) out in the country. Along with the video was a map showing the location of Chris's home. Chris is a drug addict and had moved away from the city after his behaviour lost him all his friends. Against the wishes of his wife, Michael decides he is going to make one last attempt to help his friend and so heads out to the dilapidated cabin with the singular aim of getting him clean. After his persuasion to get him to go to rehab fails Michael takes the drastic step of tazing Chris and handcuffing him to a pipe in his house. He tells him that if Chris still wants to do drugs after he has gotten past eight days of withdrawal then he will leave him to do what he wants, but that he wants one last try to save him. As the days pass Michael starts to discover strange recordings left around the cabin, videotapes, records, photos books and more, all seemingly left on purpose to be found by him, and all showing grisly stories. With nothing else to do and with his curiosity getting the better of him he decides to follow the trail that has been left for him by persons unknown.

That Resolution manages to be so darn creepy without actually showing much is testament to the skill of the directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Spring), with Benson also writing the story here. The unknowable is always more unsettling than actually showing something and so the constant appearance of these forms of media, coming from someone who seems to be secretly filming the duo made for an overwhelming sense of unease. They may be out in the middle of nowhere but the place is filled with suspicious and nefarious characters. There are a whole host of random people encountered, including members of a religious cult, angry native Americans, rednecks, homeless cave dwelling addicts, a bizarre Frenchman (a great scene featuring iconic horror actor Bill Oberst Jr - DIS), and a mysterious dog named Sarah. With everyone Michael meets hiding secrets, and the isolation of his character as he wanders the fields and hills of the surrounding area there is an outsider vibe going on. The casting here is great, especially so with Michael and Chris. The former may be a little bland, an everyman character, but he is revealed to have more flaws than he first seems to. Chris on the other hand almost takes on the role of a comedy character. It was amusing how Michael is off doing all this weird horror movie stuff while Chris is literally stuck at home bemused by all the wild stories he is being told. It felt like they were co-existing in two different genres at the same time.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Todd - Horror Film News


The Aaron Warren directed horror film Todd came to DVD from Bayview Entertainment on March 16th. This film stars Michael Winslow, Eliana Ghen and Aaron Jackson and is about an eccentric man (Todd) who becomes a morbid introvert, withdrawing himself from society and eventually becoming insane. Things really become bad when he decides to focus his attentions on an aspiring actress, his psychiatrist and their family.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

The Woman in Black (2012) - Horror Film Review


When I was a teenager in the 90s I went with my parents to see a theatre adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel The Woman in Black. It might be strange to say but that play managed to be terrifying, even thinking back on it now I get goosebumps. That was part in due to the meta way the story was told, the play was set out as if it was two actors rehearsing a play about The Woman in Black, with the chilling reveal at the play's end that the 'actress' playing the part of the titular woman had only been visible to one of the two actors (and of course the audience), the insinuation being that the play itself had been haunted by the evil ghost. To keep up this illusion this actress wasn't even credited in the play's program. You had to be there I guess, but it gave me a sleepless night! Anyway, back in 2012 when a new version of the classic story was being made into a film I decided to skip it. I felt both that it could not live up to my memories of that play, but also, with Daniel Radcliffe in his first film role since the Harry Potter series had came to an end I felt I wouldn't be able to take him seriously. The film was followed up with a sequel in 2014 (the dull The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) and during my review of that I stated my intention to one day watch the first one, and now here I am.

Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor in the early 1900s who is deep in mourning after the death of his wife some years previously. This has affected his performance at work, with his employers giving him one final chance to prove himself. He is tasked with travelling to the small village of Crythin Gifford in order to sort out the affairs of a woman named Alice Drablow, so that her former home; Eel Marsh House can be sold. He arrives to find the village folk hostile to his presence, the only friendly face he encounters is the wealthy Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds - Game of Thrones TV series). It is rumoured that Eel Marsh House is haunted by its former owner and that anyone who sees this ghostly figure is cursed. Arthur at first dismisses these stories but as he investigates the property he begins to believe that there may be some truth to them.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? It would be easy to dismiss this horror as derivative of others that have came before, it shares similar plot elements to movies such as Sinister and Ringu with what happens not being too surprising. However, the book it is based on came out long before those were even thought of. For me what stood this apart was the time period, this has a good feeling of a Gothic horror and it felt strangely freeing to not feature the trappings of modern day technology. I like Radcliffe as an actor yet I never really feel he is that amazing in the roles I have seen him in. Here it really felt like he was acting well, sure he still had a face that seemed a bit too youthful for the role he was playing but he gave a believable performance. My favourite moments were when he was alone, reacting to the events happening around him without the need for any kind of dialogue, he shows the fear in his eyes well. Despite a large cast the majority of the characters are totally background ones, with Sam feeling like the only supporting character. I enjoyed the interactions between these two.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Beast Comes at Midnight - Horror Film News


The director of cult vampire film Cold Hearts, Robert Angelo Masciantonio has signed on to direct new werewolf movie The Beast Comes at Midnight. The film revolves around a young podcaster (Michael McKeever) whose interests lie in investigating all things paranormal, serial killers and conspiracy theories. He finds out the small town he lives in is under attack by monsters. The only people who believe his wild claims are a cheerleader (Kylissa Katalinich) and a sideshow fortune teller (Robert Bronzi) who was once a monster hunter. Masciantonio joins musician and film composer Dennis Tenney (Night of the Demons 1 and 3, Leprechaun 3 and 4). 

Executive producer Todd Oifer says of this film: "We are setting out to make a monster movie with practical fx and a riveting story that appeals to both lifelong horror fans and new followers of the genre. In the vein of classics like The Lost Boys, Silver Bullet and Phantasm that star young actors thrust into extraordinary and fantastical situations. The team felt only Robert A. Masciantonio could deliver the goods."

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Know Fear (2021) - Horror Film Review


I've said it many times before, but demonic possession has always been one of my favourite genres of horror, I think this stems back to The Evil Dead. That is kind of fitting in the case of Know Fear as there were elements in this Jamison M. LoCascio (Sunset, The Depths) directed indie horror (co-written by LoCascio and Adam Ambrosio) that gave this a slight feeling of that classic, but set in a suburban house rather than at a remote cabin. This may be slightly rough around the edges in places but in general I appreciated a lot of what the film was going for.

Donald (David Alan Basche - The Exes TV series) and his wife Wendy (Amy Carlson - Green Lantern) have recently moved into a new house. While unpacking they come across a box left by the previous owners, and it is while looking in this box that Wendy accidentally cuts her finger, the blood from which happens to fall onto the page of a strange book. After Wendy begins to start behaving strangely her niece, Jami (Mallory Bechtel - Hereditary) who is obsessed with the paranormal, comes to believe that her aunt has been affected by a demon. She realises the strange book is actually a magical guide to dispelling demonic forces, but that it requires three people to operate it successfully. Without letting anyone know what she is doing Jami activates the book, this seems to alert the demon (for there actually is one) who magically seals the doors to the house to stop anyone from leaving. To banish the demon using the book three people are needed, one who gets the power to understand the demon's language, Donald, one who gets the power to see the demon, Jami, and one who is able to hear the demon speak, Jami's brother Charlie (Jack DiFalco - Daredevil). They, along with a family friend who had just happened to be visiting; Nancy (Meeya Davis - Orange Is the New Black) must work together to try and save themselves.


When it is just Wendy (an actress sadly wasted in a role that saw her out the picture for the majority of the films runtime) things seemed mild and typical for a horror like this. I was prepared for a well meaning, but ultimately dull experience, so it was a neat thing to discover that from the second act onwards the stakes raise considerably. This did have the unintended effect of making that first act a little bland, it was full of moments that I didn't think worked that well. The prologue which shows the previous family all dying was neat, no complaint with that. But there are moments and scenes that felt like they didn't add anything at all. One early example is a scene featuring Jami off filming a video for her paranormal YouTube channel thing. I felt like the only reason this featured was to show the character believes in the paranormal, it just wasn't needed. Then you have Donald (who comes across as a much more down to earth guy in his first scenes than later on in the movie) teaching his nephew about the wisdom of the 'pale blue dot' which is referenced time and time again over the course of the film but came across as a bit of a silly notion in the context of what was happening.

Monday, 15 March 2021

March 2021 Releases for the ARROW Platform - Horror Film News

We are halfway into March so it is about time to mention the releases on the subscription-based ARROW platform. This service is now also available to UK subscribers who join the US and Canada.

March 1st saw the release of The Stylist, a film about a lonely and secretly deranged hair stylist. I said in my review '...the competence of the filmmaking process made for something that was easy to appreciate as a whole.' This is an ARROW streaming exclusive. 

The month also sees the release of a bunch of collected shorts from Jim Cummings and Brian Lonano. The Brian Lonano Collection: Volume 1 came out on March 1st and includes Crow Hand!!!, Gwilliam, BFF Girls, Gwilliam's Tips for Turning Tricks into Treats and an exclusive premiere of The Devil's Asshole. Cummings films came out today, March 15th and include Parent Teacher, Cory Comes to Xmas, The Stop, Marty Hearts Katie, The Robbery, Native Stand Up and Us Funny.

Other choice picks for the month include Japan's homages to H.G Wells character: The Invisible Man Appears (1949) and The Invisible Man Vs. the Human Fly (1957) that dropped March 1st, March 8th brings films of a tape based horror including The El Duce Tapes, the Ringu series, Videoman, and Ivansxtc. March 12th is the release of a collection that highlights strong practical effects, this includes Bride of Re-Animator, Doom Asylum and Inferno of Torture.


Sunday, 14 March 2021

The Medium (2021) - Horror Video Game Review (Xbox Series X)


The Medium
is the first next gen console game I played and was something I hadn't actually heard of before the middle of January. I was pleased to discover the game had headed to Xbox Game Pass immediately upon release and so it was the first game I downloaded upon finally getting my rotted claws on an Xbox Series X. The game comes from Bloober Team whose previous games Blair Witch, The Observer and Layers of Fear all had merits to them, even if they were each flawed in their own way. The Medium too is flawed, but like those others it does have its merits to make it feel unique.

Marianne, a spirit medium (whose power allows her to coexist simultaneously within the real world and the spirit world) is mourning the recent loss of her foster father when she receives a strange telephone call from a man calling himself  Thomas. He tells the woman that he knows she has special abilities and that he knows she also has a recurring dream about a girl getting shot dead by a lake. He tell her that if she heads to the abandoned Niwa Workers' Resort complex out in the Polish wilderness he will be able to explain this haunting dream of hers. She heads to the complex and as she explores she encounters a malevolent spirit called the Maw who she discovers was responsible for a massacre at the site many years previously. As she investigates she slowly discovers the truth about the Maw, about the man named Thomas, and also is shocked to find out this all is somehow related to her past.

The Medium is a third person combat free adventure game that for the most part is all about exploration and solving mild puzzles. The big idea with the game is that Marianne co-exists in both worlds at the same time. This is represented on screen with much of the game taking place using a split screen format. The left side of the screen shows Marianne in the real world, the right side showing her in the spirit world. Occasionally there will be moments when either one of these viewpoints takes over the whole screen. This was a cool concept to use and I never got bored of the many ways this is used to create puzzles. By holding the B button you are able to go out of your body, able to navigate the spirit world through obstacles your real world counterpart cannot get through. You also get the ability to travel through mirrors which let you dip into the spirit world or vice versa to get past locked doors and other obstacles stopping your progress.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Monsturd - Horror Book News


I can't say I've ever heard of the cult horror movie Monsturd but from the title alone I can get an impression of the sort of film it would be. 4321 Films have bizarrely announced a novelisation of this story, one that has been written by the 2003 movie's original creators Dan West and Rick Popko.

West said of his creation: "Strangely, as a movie, Monsturd's success exceeded our wildest expectations, it's been distributed and reviewed in countries Rick and I have never been to yet, including Russia and Portugal. Over the years, we've received quite a few fan inquiries asking if we ever intended to do a sequel. Nut, I'm afraid that unless Hollywood ponies up a significant amount of cash up front, it's probably never going to happen. That's one of the reasons why we wrote this book. While it faithfully retells the events from the movie, it also features a number of new scenes and character expansions that weren't in the original movie.
That sounds similar to the novelisation of The Killing Death which did a similar thing by including new scenes.

Monsturd the novel is available both in paperback and as an electronic download.

Friday, 12 March 2021

D-Railed (2018) - Horror Film Review


D-Railed
was directed and co-written by Dale Fabrigar (Area 407). It is an indie creature feature that has an interesting set-up and good creature design, but falls into some of the pitfalls of the genre while featuring an ending that I can't decide if it was a terrible idea or a great one. Either way the ending is clumsily handled in my opinion.

A murder mystery event is taking place on a steam train and so various people have turned up to take part in it. These include Evelyn (Carter Scott) who is there as her friend is part of the cast, travelling salesman Eugene (Logan Coffey - States of Horror TV series), teenage Abigail (Shae Smolik - The Hatred), her nanny, and enigmatic Thomas (Everette Wallin - Area 407). The event is interrupted by a criminal who intends to steal the guests jewellery before getting off the train, however in the ensuring chaos the train ends up derailing and crashing into a lake. As if this wasn't bad enough it turns out the lake is home to some sort of monstrous creature who starts to pick off the survivors one by one...


I enjoyed how D-Railed starts off as a thriller and changes at the conclusion of the film's first act into something quite different. A common complaint I have with creature features are the moments of boredom that come with the genre. The downtime between creature attacks has not much happening, while as much as I liked the design of the monster it felt typical for these sorts of films, a white humanoid creature with a huge mouth filled with pointed teeth. To begin with there were far too many characters, it didn't help a lot of these were very annoying, with some especially grating due to their over acting. Thankfully it is almost like the creature is aware of this with it seeming like it was picking its victims based on how irritating their performances had been. The core group of Coffey, Wallin, Smolik and Scott were the most bearable ones, maybe due to having more to their personalities than just angry shouting or shrill screaming. While it was a very small role it was fun to see Lance Henriksen (The Terminator, Aliens, Near Dark) here, I also thought Frank Lammers gave a memorable performance in the small role he got.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Ludovico Technique release new music video for track Embrace - Music News


Gothic/Industrial Metal artist Ludovico Technique have released a new single, Embrace, alongside a new music video. This is the third single taken from their upcoming album Haunted People. The band originally were inspired by Gothic bands such as Skinny Puppy. There are now elements of Type O Negative and Rob Zombie, as they are both great musicians that is no bad thing. The track can be purchased/streamed from a variety of online sources, the full list of which is here.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

ReVisitant (2019) - Horror Film Review


ReVisitant
is the sequel to the 2014 horror The Visitant, a film which I had neither seen nor heard of. I hoped that wouldn't stymie my enjoyment of the movie, and that it would be easy to pick things up. Thankfully things are quickly made clear, thanks to what I assume (I could be wrong) was the ending to The Visitant turning up here as a prologue sequence. At first I wasn't sure of the tone that director and co-writer Jon Binkowski (The Visitant, Scare Zone) was going for, but it become clear as the story plays out that this doesn't take itself too seriously.

Maybe a spoiler for the end of the other movie, maybe this was newly created for this sequel, but a woman haunted by a ghost discovers it isn't actually that of her deceased husband. This knowledge is too late to save her from being killed by it, her best friend, Maya (Tracy Wiu - Homeland) discovering her corpse ends up partly possessed by the ghost. Fast forward a year and the previously haunted house is due to be demolished. Upon learning this, Sarah (Jade Rattigan), the young daughter of neighbour Leslie (Lisa Enos Smith), who had been using the deserted house as a den turns up to retrieve her stuff and encounters Maya who happened to be visiting. She ends up inadvertently passing on the ghost possessing her to Leslie who had arrived looking for her daughter. Soon Leslie and her family find themselves in a whole heap of trouble with a possessive ghost.


At the films start I found some of the performances, especially that of the character of Sarah to be distractingly over the top and exaggerated. This remained annoying until the early introduction of a trio of comedy characters who appear in a paranormal sequence played for laughs. These characters made me realise that things wouldn't be as straight and serious as it felt like they would be. There are still moments of horror to be found throughout ReVisitant, and even a body count, but the quasi-light hearted tone dispels a lot of the doom and gloom for what is happening. I came to like a lot of the characters here, especially the less used side ones. Griffon (Marc Musso) was the best of these, his introduction was far too late into the movie but every line of his was very entertaining. Going back to Sarah, something happens to this character which makes their over the top performance work a heck of a lot better for a large chunk of the film.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War - Zombies 'Outbreak' Mode News and Impressions


A week last Thursday kicked off season 2 of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and with that season there was a brand new mode for Zombies. Outbreak is different to the traditional experience in that rather than be wave based survival you are instead dropped into one of three large maps with up to three other people and then tasked with performing one of five different tasks.

In terms of the story this is the continuing adventures of the team that are up against the sinister Omega Group. This time you have headed to Russia's Ural Mountains in which the largest tear in reality yet recorded has occurred. The maps themselves are repurposed from the large scale multiplayer Fireteam modes and so they don't feel like they were designed with the walking dead in mind. Ruka takes place in a woodland forest, Alpine takes place at the top of a ski slope, while Golova has the feel of an Eastern European town. It is randomised which map you start on keeping things feeling fresh.

Upon starting Outbreak you are given a marker on the map to head towards which will be the level's objective. On the way you battle undead but never in the huge amounts you would get in a traditional Zombies map. Instead this is much more chill with you able to take potshots at the random ghouls wondering around. Taking some pointers from Warzone there are chests dotted around the maps that give you points to buy armour as well as grenades and the such. Each map also has a mystery box, armour stations, and a pack-a-punch machine. Upon opening the beacon to either exfil or head to a new level (in which the difficulty increases each time), you also get access to all these machines.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (2019) - Horror Video Game Review


Until Dawn
was a very good looking horror adventure game that played out like a 'choose your own adventure'. I said back in my review of it that I wasn't sure how much replay value there would be. This was followed up with a couple of VR spin-off games. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was a fantastic on-rails shooter, while the other spin-off, The Inpatient was a first person perspective prequel (that I really should get around to playing). I recall hearing from people on a podcast at a time that they would like any new game in the mainline series to feature its own separate story, with its own separate cast of characters. Brilliantly that is exactly what the developers, Supermassive Games have decided to go with, and they have gone big with intentions to have eight different games telling eight different stories of terror. The first of these was 2019's Man of Medan, the second in the series, Little Hope, came out towards the end of last year.

Four friends that include Alex (voiced by Kareem Tristan Alleyne - iZombie), his girlfriend Julia (Arielle Palik), his little brother Brad (Chris Sandiford - What We Do in the Shadows TV series), and Julia's brother Conrad (Shawn Ashmore - The Ruins) have chartered a small boat captained by Triss (Ayisha Issa - 12 Monkeys TV series) in order to locate a rumoured World War II wreck. They are successful and even manage to discover the coordinates while there for a treasure named as 'Manchurian Gold'. Before they are able to celebrate their find their boat is ambushed by a small band of pirates led by the sinister Olsen (Kwasi Songui - 300). He decides to head to the coordinates, enlisting the unwilling friends to help him gather the treasure. They arrive to discover a floating graveyard, a seemingly abandoned American warship, which in the games prologue was shown to be the place of an unfolding madness that tore the crew apart in the 1940s. Now the friends must evade Olsen and his men, locate an essential part the pirates took from Triss's boat to stop her escaping, and then flee the nightmarish vessel.


I quickly discovered upon my return to Until Dawn that despite seeming to have a variety of ways the game can play out, the actual story remained quite rigid. With Man of Medan purposely being a shorter length, and not needing to get replay value (as I played this via Xbox Game Pass) I decided whatever decisions ended up happening I would stick with, I wouldn't try and replay chapters to get the optimal outcome. Not counting the prologue set in the 1940's in which you play as two American soldiers, there are five characters you play as, which character you get to play as at any given point is dependent on where the story has headed. On my particular game one of these five characters I managed to get killed very early on in the story, it was interesting to read afterwards that that fate wasn't set in stone and they could have well survived the whole ordeal. As it was I finished the game after roughly three to four hours with three of my cast intact. Not bad, not great, but I felt it added to the authentic feeling of being in a horror movie by having main characters die.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Suicide Tapes - Horror Anthology Film News


Exploitation film director Wilhelm Müller (Neighbor No.9) has teamed up with fellow filmmaker Tony Newton (segments on Virus of the Dead, 60 Seconds to Die) to make a new anthology, Suicide Tapes, which the press release states is the first horror film of its kind. As the title might well indicate this is going to be made up of a collection of short found footage horror that each revolve around a suicide occuring on camera. Apologies for the censored cover picture, was a bit graphic!

They are currently seeking submissions and have set out a few rules for what they are looking for, which are as follows:
 'Create a short horror film in under 5 minutes. Each short film must include a death by suicide scene and can either include just the suicide or also a little story surrounding it. The tapes will appear to be found and can include the victim talking directly to the camera. Can be filmed using any camera or smartphone as long as the film is delivered in landscape orientation 1080p HD. You will need a title at the start and end credits. This is an Underground Horror anthology film and can feature graphic scenes of faux blood, nudity and gore but NO REAL SELF HARM. If there is dialogue, it should either be in English or with English subtitles. If you use music, make sure there is no copyright!'
Completed films can be sent via wetransfer.com or google drive to cerebralfilm@gmail.com or tony.newton.productions@gmail.com.

This type of thing really isn't something I get much enjoyment out of at all, I learnt that with Faces of Snuff! However I'm sure there are plenty of people who this will appeal to, fictional horror should be celebrated in all its various forms and genres whatever the particular perspective of this rotting blogger.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Dead Again (2021) - Comedy Zombie Horror Film Review


As you might have guessed from my blog's title, I am a huge fan of zombie films. I have said many times previously, but often you don't need to have much of a budget to make an entertaining one. Much like the blog posts I write, with zombie films it is quantity not quality that matters, so even with minimal make-up effects, sheer numbers can increase the enjoyment regardless. Steven M. Smith's Dead Again is a U.K comedy zombie horror film that despite being low on originality at all still is competent enough to be a middle of the road, yet enjoyable film.

PC Brody (Elliot Cable - Incubus, Scare Attraction) is fresh out of police training school and has been assigned to the small sleepy village of Little Pitchfield. He is teamed up with PS Cooper (Tony Fadil - Web Crawler) who informs the eager Brody that there hasn't been a single crime in the village for 17 years. It is Brody's bad luck then that his first day coincides with an outbreak of flesh hungry undead, something that could possibly relate to an incident from the village's past.


While this is described as partly a comedy that part of the movie is thankfully underplayed. The humour didn't really hit very well, but thankfully it is mainly restricted to Cooper, and mainly appears with him using classic movie references that Brody, born in the 90's doesn't understand. Outside of this the film felt a lot more serious than expected which due to the comedy failing isn't actually a bad thing. I had been concerned the humour would be distasteful or mean spirited. It wasn't, aside from the decision to use real life footage of world leaders talking about the Covid 19 pandemic as the film's prologue (to create the false impression they are talking about zombie apocalypse), I felt that was in poor taste. At an initial glance Dead Again looks like a lazy mash-up between Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. A small, sleepy village devoid of crime, an eager new transfer determined to uphold the law in all its forms, and the progression of the character arcs are all Hot Fuzz. Obviously it is the undead that echoes Shaun of the Dead, also that Cooper even looks a bit like Simon Pegg and shares his first name with that other zombie film protagonist.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Raise Her - New Single/Video from Kissing Candice - Music News


New York based masked band Kissing Candice have released their new single Raise Her. This track is described as 'depicting acts of fetishism, masochism, and other deviant dark fixations that linger at times in the dark recesses of the brain'. It was one of the first songs written for the band's new album which is due out at some point in 201. Vocalist Aunt Donna (Joey Simpson) says of the music video: "I want people to watch this music video and walk away saying "what the hell did I just watch?!? I think I like it..."

 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

The Stylist (2020) - Horror Film Review


I heard a bit of buzz around Jill Gevargizian's short horror film, The Stylist back when it was released in 2016 but never got a chance to see it. Fast forward to present day and a feature length version of the story has been released, using the same actors, indeed it seems like the short itself is part of the feature, making up the prologue. While at a glance this can appear to be a female Psycho this is more of a slow paced horror that focuses primarily on the villian.

Claire (Najarra Townsend - Wolfmother) is a lonely and troubled hair stylist who is quite unsatisfied with her lacklustre life. She is envious of her clients and their life experiences, but more than anything she wants to be them. Unsuspected to all around her is that she carries a dark secret. She is a serial killer who kills and then scalps her victims. The scalps she keeps in her basement lair, where she wears them like a wig to pretend to be someone else, if only for a moment. After Olivia (Brea Grant - Dexter), a regular client of hers insists she do her hair for her upcoming wedding Claire begins to yearn for her client's special day. This twists into obsession and as the big day approaches she must fight against her instincts.


The most horror like parts of The Stylist are obviously the murder scenes, but these make up a small part of the overall movie. The focus is on Claire, and following around this main character can become exhausting. She's shy and unassuming, but also weird and kind of creepy, but everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives that this isn't really noticed by anyone. Townsend does a great job in this lead role, she displays a lot of different emotions over the course of the film, and despite her crimes there are moments where you do feel a bit sorry for what is blatantly a damaged person who cannot help themselves. The moments where the cracks begin to show in her wafer thin facade are where the acting felt at its best. At just over an hour forty minutes staying with the one character throughout means you get to know them quite well, even then though Claire is a bit of a blank slate, aside from inferring she is the way she is due to childhood abuse there are no details about her past.

Monday, 1 March 2021

The Connection and Dead Again - Horror Film News


Two bits of film news to mention on this double feature news post. First up, releasing on March 2nd from Midnight Releasing comes The Connection. This science fiction film was written and directed by Nicholas Naylor and stars Laura Stetman (Todd), Nicholas Naylor, Joel D. Wynkoop (Toxic Alien Zombie Babes from Outer Space) and Rod Grant (Illusions).
The synopsis for this is 'One night two people's worlds changes forever as a mysterious light in the woods connects the two in a way far beyond their understanding. As they set out to get their lives back to normal, they find the connection is the only normal they may ever know again.'

For something completely different there is Dead Again, a comedy zombie film that is already out, via ITN. This was written and directed by Steven M. Smith (Haunted series, The Doll Master).
In a crime free rural village a young recruit has arrived fresh from Police training. After a virus is released that transforms the village's peaceful population, the recruit teams up with a jaded police sergeant for what might turn out to be both his first and last day on the job. This sounds like an indie version of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz mixed together, in a genre that is close to my rotting heart. I hope this one turns out to be ghoul-tastic. I have a screener of this to watch for review so look out for a review coming soon.