Friday, 30 April 2021

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


It has recently dawned on me that cutting my blog output from seven to five posts a week has meant I have far more emails cluttering up my 'news' folder on my email. A quick glance and I can see 92 emails sitting there, actually quite daunting! This month I will be writing this monthly news post over three days, so shall see if that results in me managing to get through a bunch of that.

Starting with some video game news, season 3 of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War released on April 15th and it brings with some new Zombies content. I have to admit I was hoping for a proper Zombies map, instead there is a fifth map added to the surprisingly enjoyable Outbreak mode. That map is Duga and looks slightly similar to the forest based Ruka, but with a lot more buildings and a gigantic metal frame you can climb. I do like the Outbreak mode, it changes the Zombies experience into something mainly more chilled and relaxed. On the flip side though these maps were never designed with Zombies in mind, as such the environmental details are quite generic. Ok, after that little geek-out onto the proper news.

Lurking Woods released on April 6th from Midnight Releasing and can be found on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo, and Fandango. A traditional sounding story of a group of friends heading away to a cabin for a partying holiday, as always though there is a masked killer there to ruin their plans.

On May 4th Bayview Entertainment are to release Zombie King. This horror stars Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys, Gremlins) and Edward Furlong (American History X, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and is about a man who, desperate to see his deceased wife again makes a pact with Kaifu - the God of malevolence. In exchange for bringing chaos to Earth the man will become the 'Zombie King' and be reunited with his wife. In this mad situation a group of misfits in a small town must find a way to stop him.


Keeping on the undead theme is another recent release from Bayview Entertainment, this one being Rock & Roll Frankenstein. This has a crazy storyline that has a music agent, a roadie and a mad scientist who decide to dig up the remains of various famous musicians (including Elvis, Hendrix and Sid Vicious) in order to make the perfect rock & roll star. This was directed by Brian O'Hara and the DVD release includes a variety of bonus features.
 

There is currently an IndieGoGo campaign running to get funds to create Seasons - Four Spine Tingling Tales of Terror. As the title would suggest this is an anthology. This is set to feature a bunch of iconic horror actors, including Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Jeremy London, Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Lynn Lowry (I Drink Your Blood), Eric Freeman (Silent Night, Deadly Night 2) and Cleve Hall (Terrorvision). For more details head to the campaign page here.

The April release schedule for Arrow Video included Death Has Blue Eyes, Switchblade Sisters and Donnie Darko. Death Has Blue Eyes released on Blu-ray on 6th April, it comes from cult Greek director Nico Mastorakis and is about a pair of friends who create a bodyguard gig for a telepathic woman. Switchblade Sisters arrived on 20th April and revolves around a female gang, this was directed by Jack Hill and is described as an exploitation classic. Finally, cult classic Donnie Darko received a limited edition 4K UHD release on the 27th.

Anime film Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train is coming to select UK theatres on Wednesday 26th May, with showings in Ireland to follow. The film will be available in English dub as well as subtitled and also available in IMAX. It is directed by Haruo Sotozaki. The anime series was about a man searching for a cure for his sister who had been transformed into a demon after their family is killed. This film is set after the events of the series and has the characters on a mission to investigate the strange disappearance of the Mugen Train. For more information checkout the website here.


Hoodman is a new horror crime thriller that is due to come to Amazon Prime on 1st May. It is about a young woman (Madison Spear) on the search for her missing child in a town plagued by an urban legend. A detective (Brock Morse) suspects a man (Jack James) is responsible. Their search leads them to start to believe the town's urban legend is real. This is the second feature film to be written and directed by indie filmmaker Mark W. Curran (Abandoned Dead) under his Nightwatcher Films moniker. Hoodman will come to other major streaming platforms in June this year.



Urban horrors Frankenthug and Vampiyaz are now out on DVD thanks to Windowmaker Films. The former is about a new gang who kill a guy, he ends up getting resurrected in a science experiment and sets out to get revenge on his murderers. The later is about a man who has recently gotten out of prison to discover his neighbourhood has been taken over by vampires. Both films can be brought from oldies.com.

Industrial rock artist Nuclear Sun has covered Nine Inch Nails' Head Like A Hole. The song is going to appear on the new tribute release, Couldn't Have Said It Better Vol.1 which is available digitally via Bandcamp and all major streaming services. Other covers on the release includes ones of Rabbit Junk, Cyatonic, Filter, Mindless Faith, and The Shizit tracks.


Israeli darkwave artist LIYA has released a music video for her song Kill The Beast taken from her latest EP, Cold Moon. She says of the video "...about someone with depression; someone who is not dealing with it and hurting himself and me, because we were together. It's about how his depression ruined our connection. The depression is the beast that needs to be killed."


Finally as a late addition there is news of the latest book in the Autumn series of zombie novels by David Moody. The Autumn series contain by far the best zombie novels I have ever read, I am beyond excited that after a gap of around 9 years we are getting not one but two Autumn books this year, with a third arriving in 2022. Autumn: Dawn is due for release on May 31st, if you pre-order the book on the Infected Books website you get immediate access to a digital version of the book. Love the tagline for this new novel 'WELCOME TO LONDON. Population seven million. 99.9% of them dead. The survival of the rest balanced on a knife-edge.'

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Ape Canyon (2019) - Film Review


I knew going in to this Joshua Land (Bad Witch) directed movie that it wasn't going to be a horror film. It does however have a story that revolves around the hunt for Bigfoot (a similar non horror Bigfoot film I have previously reviewed was A Wish for Giants). Sometimes it is nice to have a break from life or death situations and so I thought it would be a nice breather from all that with Ape Canyon. It was a nice breather, a road trip movie (I always enjoy those) that has the horror element not on likely non real monsters, but on the turmoil that mental trauma can cause.

Cal (Jackson Trent - Bad Witch) unexpectedly turns up at the college his sister Samantha (Anna Fagan - Lotus Eyes) teaches at one day. Having gotten obsessed with going to a place called Ape Canyon that is said to be the home of some Bigfoot creatures, Cal tricks his sister into coming along with him on an expedition to the area. Things don't go according to plan however, and with the odds increasingly against him Cal takes more and more drastic measures to reach his goal, no matter the obstacles in his way.

The tagline for the film describes it as a 'cryptozoological dramady', and to begin with it is that. The films first act is light-hearted and as annoying as some of the characters can be they fitted the vibe. Ape Canyon never really loses sight of that light-hearted tone, but it certainly takes some steps off that path. What seems at first an eccentric yet loveable character in the form of Cal takes on a more darker feel, his eccentricities more and more feel like they are due to a real mental illness that has taken root in his mind, rather than him just having a kooky larger than life persona. There are a variety of characters along the way, though as the film progresses it becomes much more about the two siblings. Some of these side characters added a lot to the pairs adventures, in particular Charlie (Donny Ness), a young Jewish boy brings a lot of the comedy elements due to the way Cal talks with him. Once he is gone the film begins to take on a darker edge, beginning with a rant Cal has that shows his obsession to get to Ape Canyon is not a healthy one.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Axeman At Cutter's Creek (2021) - Horror Film Review


Axeman At Cutter's Creek
was an indie slasher that originally released back in 2013. The film currently has a 3.2/10 rating on IMDB. The writer/director Joston Theney (Stained), who also had a lot of other roles on the film (including playing one of the primary characters) has stated that the original movie was rushed to release. In fact he seems to have been unhappy enough about it that after regaining the licences for both that film and its sequel he has had the films re-edited to make them a whole load better. This included changing the films into more of a straight horror, adding new music, new footage as well as cutting out 25% of the overall run time. I haven't seen the original so I was going into this new redux version fresh.

A group of friends have gone away to a remote cabin at Cutter's Creek for a weekend of sex and alcohol. These include Stacy (Elissa Dowling - We Are Still Here, Party Bus to Hell) who has recently started dating her best friend's ex, Brian (Stephen Eith), pervy Randy (Nihilist Gelo - Stained), Darren (Thenay) and the girl he is in love with but has been too afraid to admit it, Vivian (Eliza Kiss - The Encounter), as well as a bunch of other young adults. The time share for the cabin was bizarrely cheap, and that is down to the local legend of a mad axeman who once went on a rampage in the area but was never caught. Unfortunately this local legend is very true, the axeman (Scot Pollard) is still in the area and as mad as ever...

After a fake out prologue in which a trio of bank robbers meet their end at the cabin things soon become very traditional in the slasher sense of the word. An early problem I had back in my teens when watching the Friday the 13th films was that some of the characters I actually liked, and so I was rooting for them to survive. Thankfully that is not the case here, every single character is insufferable and I eagerly awaited their deaths. These are all vulgar, sex obsessed idiots that often don't really seem to even like each other that much. Their personalities are wafer thin, with barely any kind of development to them. In a different type of horror this would be a problem, in an old fashioned slasher movie though it makes the kills all the more delicious. There was also a nice guest appearance from Brinke Stevens (Teacher Shortage, Slumber Party Massacre).

Monday, 26 April 2021

Filtered (2021) - Short Horror Film Review


Filtered
is the latest short horror film from writer/director Vincenzo Nappi (First Bite) and follows a format that has been used to great effect in films like Host and Unfriended. That format being having the whole film playing out via what is shown on a character's PC monitor screen, a relatively new sub-genre of found footage. It was good fortune that I happened to be watching this on my PC myself as when the short started I was briefly confused as to why I seemed to be suddenly randomly calling a person I didn't know. This immersive illusion didn't even end there, at some point during the film I noticed the Spotify app image at the bottom of the (in film) PC screen and again got confused for a split second due to not having that app on my computer! Sleep deprivation or successful immersion? Probably a bit of both.

Filtered is shown via Jasmine's (Jasmine Winter - Is Your Daughter Home?) PC screen and mostly revolves around a video call she is having with her friend, Marco (Marco Carreiro who was sound recordist and casting director on First Bite). Marco begins playing around with filters to make his friend laugh, but that laughter turns to screams when Jasmine decides to do the same back to him...

The film is five and a half minutes long and the actual horror begins at around the three and a half minute mark. It comes creeping in so subtly at first that it took a few moments to realise the tone had changed. My first watch of this I had wondered when this horror would ever begin, but upon rewatching it a few times I came to appreciate how this build up really helps make the last part of the short work more effectively. Saying that I guess there was one little sequence that didn't really add too much. The idea for this short was well implemented, though it was an idea I have seen a couple of times in other films and so didn't feel as fresh as it might have been. Regardless it did manage to chill, I liked the juxtaposition of the two video call screens, Marco in a brightly lit room acting all silly, Jasmine sat in the dark in her own personal horror film.

Sure, Filtered might use ideas I had seen before, but it gets a big plus from me in that it didn't feel the need to resort to a cheesy jump scares finish, instead a great use of sound effects to keep the dread continuing through the end credits. Elsewhere the two actors really brought this to life with their subtle changes in facial expressions when required. Filtered had its premiere at the Cabane á Sang film festival on April 24th.

SCORE:


Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Walking Dead: Season 10 - Epilogues (2021) - Horror TV Show Review


The Walking Dead
's tenth season got interrupted by the current pandemic and so viewers had to wait quite a few months to get the season finale. The season ran for sixteen episodes with the story set-up ready to head into the eleventh and final season. Due to the break however, an additional six episodes were made, making up episodes seventeen to twenty two of the season. These episodes take on an anthology format, each one dealing with a different self contained storyline and featuring different characters. None of these episodes really add anything to the main story of The Walking Dead and so could be argued not to be essential viewing. There is certainly some chaff among the wheat, but this also features an episode idea that I have long hoped for. There will be unavoidable spoilers for earlier in season ten as a warning.

It begins with Home Sweet Home and centres around the recently returned Maggie (Lauren Cohan). This was needed as her reappearance in the episode previous hadn't left her much screen time to say much of anything. In this episode Maggie, along with some others head back to her base camp where her people are located. This wasn't a bad episode, though had the annoying habit that the show constantly does of introducing characters who are so obviously expendable they may as well be wearing red shirts, and then killing them all off by the episodes end. Still, there was a nice scene of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) caught in a gun battle with someone.

Next is Find Me that has Daryl and Carol as the protagonists. This constantly shifts back from present day to the time when Daryl had left the community, to show what he had been up to during that time. It all revolves around a hut out in the woods that has a lot of meaning for Daryl. With Carol and Daryl getting a spin-off show I thought that maybe this is setting the seeds for what that show could be about.
One More follows and was the darkest of the six episodes. It featured Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) in the lead roles. I think these anthology episodes are at their best when they feature characters who wouldn't normally get so much screen time. The two are out on a mission to try and find supplies for their community, but get caught up with a psycho who starts a load of mind games on them. Had a great guest appearance by Robert Patrick (The Faculty, Terminator 2: Judgement Day).

Friday, 23 April 2021

The Cove (2021) - Post Apocalyptic Film Review


The Cove
is a post apocalyptic indie movie that was written by, directed by, and stars Robert Enriquez. It happens to be the second post apocalyptic film I have seen this week (the other being A Feral World) and has some vague similarities. What it does have that that other film didn't is zombies, these take a back seat to the more human story going on.

After a deadly pandemic swept the globe those infected turned into zombie like creatures who exist only to eat. In this post apocalyptic world Cairo (Garrett Barghash) is journeying in search of a near mythical settlement known as 'the cove' which is said to offer true sanctuary and protection against the perils of this dangerous new world. His journey brings him to a marina where a former soldier named Solomon (Enriquez) lives. Luckily for Cairo this man appears to know how to get to the cove, the only problem being a group of pirates led by the sadistic Luther (Mike Markoff - Death Squad TV series) who also want to find this refuge and will do anything in order to get that information.

The majority of The Cove takes place around the marina location, it is only the first act that felt more like a typical apocalyptic road trip. The story was interesting in that it appears to be towards the end of a larger story. It is insinuated that the apocalypse itself is nearing its end, Solomon's way of life is coming to its conclusion as the government is apparently nearly ready to take control again. It is also coming towards the end of the fight between Solomon and Luther, the antagonist only has four men under his control, the skilled ex-soldier Solomon having already taken out the majority of them previously. This gives the film a very low key feel to it, there is no large world changing story going on, more just a small chapter in the world of the film. That was a perfectly good idea for an apocalyptic movie.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Irregulars (2021) - Horror TV Show Review

My Netflix queue is very long with other 300 plus films and programs wandering if they will ever get watched by me before they covertly get dumped from the streaming platform. Thankfully my best friend has no such patience for order and decided we would start watching the horror tinged Sherlock Holmes supernatural spin-off, The Irregulars. I'm glad I did as I really found myself getting into this show, impressed by both its cast and its quality look.

This takes place in Victorian London, more specifically one in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson inhabit. A group of street teens, made up of Jessie (Darci Shaw), Billy (Jojo Macari), Spike (McKell David - Black Mirror), and Bea (Thaddea Graham) get caught up in investigating a series of supernatural events breaking out over the city. A tear in the fabric of reality has opened, and through this various nefarious townsfolk are getting imbued with magical powers. Joined by Leopold (Harrison Osterfield), who is secretly a Prince, the friends are tasked by Dr. Watson (Royce Pierreson - The Witcher, Thor: The Dark World) to discover where the tear is located so that it can be closed. To do this they use the powers of Jessie who is able to travel into the minds of people, and who herself is being guided by the benevolent 'Linen Man' (Clarke Peters - Jessica Jones, John Wick), a man with similar powers to hers who she meets in her dreams.

The Irregulars is made up of eight episodes, each of which is roughly fifty minutes long. There is an overarching plot going on but many of these episodes feature a 'monster of the week' type self contained situation. With people getting supernatural powers it means each episode can have the friends trying to stop the latest afflicted character. It begins with Chapter One: An Unkindness in London which is about a man with the power to control birds. This really set the tone for the show as a whole. This is Victorian London and its represented in a way that is more filmlike than realistic. This is a world where adults are for the most part nasty and abusive with no time for children, but also a world where the cast exist without much fear of anything that bad happening to them (pre investigating magical murderers that is). It was refreshing to have so many non-white actors in a setting such as this, there may be a lot of horror in this world but it appears to be a non-racist alternate reality. Also adding to the fresh feeling is the soundtrack that uses modern music. Lots of period programs use this method now, I think it all began with The Great Gatsby. To begin with I was a bit dubious of the acting, but by the end of the first episode I was fully on board. This episode also clearly shows The Irregulars isn't going to skimp on scenes of horror when need be, best summed up in episode one with the image of a woman in the aftermath of getting pecked to death by ravens.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A Feral World (2020) - Post Apocalyptic Film Review


It is always good to spice up watching films on this blog by switching over to the post apocalyptic genre. This is a comfortable bed fellow to horror and is often neat to see what ideas have been used to represent the collapse of civilisation. Indie films of this type have a habit of being overlong, but in the case of the David Liban directed and written A Feral World this just about manages to not do that. 

Due to something to do with swarms of out of control nanobots the world has fallen into ruin. Orphaned boy Sonny (played by the director's son Caleb Liban) one day encounters Emma (Danielle Prall), a woman desperately searching the wastelands for her missing daughter, Janey (Vivienne Bersin). The two become close and decide to team up, along with a small dog named Lips. Their search brings them to a compound run by the sinister Jasper (Timothy McCracken - Alan Wake), a man who holds power over the children he has captured due to being able to control a small nanobot swarm.

A Feral World takes place over five different chapters, each of which features a jump in time. The gap between chapter one and two is a few months for instance, while the difference between chapter two and three is a year. One part that this movie gets right is that these time jumps seemed to have also occurred in real life. The film was shot over four years and so with each new chapter the actors look visibly older, which was a cool thing to see on screen. Whether it was designed this way, or if the time skips were added as a reason why the still growing child actors look older I don't know, but it worked. The first two chapters had just Sonny and Emma mainly, these parts with them exploring the post apocalyptic world felt different to the direction the rest of the movie takes. With finding Jasper this turns into something more centralised, with a proper goal in mind. McCracken was great as the antagonist, he really stole the scenes he was in, and reminded me of the type of bad guy you would find in The Walking Dead.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Goodbye Honey (2020) - Horror Film Review


Goodbye Honey
 (directed and co-written by Max Strand in his feature length directorial debut) begins where a lot of other films end. An abducted girl has somehow escaped her captor and is on the run. This set-up is almost a subgenre of the abduction genre itself, the best example in recent memory being the excellent 2015 horror Bound to Vengeance. This indie film manages to work to its limitations by having nearly the entire movie take place in the one nondescript location, even if for a dumb reason.

Dawn (Pamela Jayne Morgan - The Manor) is a middle aged trucker who has pulled over her lorry for the night in order to get some rest. She pulls into the entrance to a national park, and it is here where she encounters a young woman, Phoebe (Juliette Alice Gobin) who alleges to have recently escaped from a man who had been keeping her captive for the past four months. She begs for assistance from Dawn, but the trucker has misplaced her keys, and her mobile phone has recently gotten broken, so the two are stuck put. So begins a long dark night that finds the two in a whole load of peril.

It was quite novel to realise the entire film was going to take place in and around a truck in a bland location that is in darkness the whole film. It gave Goodbye Honey at first a Twilight Zone type feel to it. I have no problem the film being set out this way, what I had issue with was the set-up that Dawn had somehow misplaced her keys. I can't help but feel there could have been a better idea used as it seemed not only ridiculous that this had occurred, but also ridiculous that the characters give up looking for the keys almost immediately. If you were that desperate to escape from a deranged kidnapper would you really make a plan of sitting around in the only vehicle for seemingly miles, waiting for daylight to arrive? Look past that part of the film and the rest of Goodbye Honey does a lot of things well. 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Reunion from Hell (2021) - Horror Film Review


Reunion from Hell
is a slasher that was directed by Hayden Newman, with Sam Hodge as co-director. Both these people had a multitude of other roles, Hodge for instance was the director of photography, the editor, principal camera operator and composed the original score, while Newman starred in the central role of Riley. For the film's inspirations it has looked back to the classic slashers of the 1980s and trundles along at a pace that felt very similar. By using so much of what has came before however it maybe left itself feeling a little devoid of original ideas.

After the death of his friend at the hands of a home intruder, Riley (Newman) returns back to his hometown he had left suddenly many years earlier after the death of his father in a car accident. He reunites with his old friends, as well as his mother, Laurel (Cathy Podewell - Night of the Demons) and younger brother, Brady (Jeremiah Lee Steinert - The Hag Witch). After another friend is discovered dead in similar circumstances Riley realises that the killer is going after him and his friends, and that this all seems designed to hurt Riley specifically.

It isn't hard to see what sort of previous slasher films have influenced Reunion from Hell and this leads to many parts feeling and sounding rather familiar. The prologue for instance is pure Scream, with a victim being taunted over the phone by a killer wearing all black, aside from his face that is covered with a white mask. The soundtrack, especially at this part is like an off brand Halloween theme, and that continues into the intro credits that play out over a black background, and with a text style that looks very similar to that franchise. After this violent beginning the film takes a step back with the first hour of this ninety minute feature containing three evenly spaced kills. Of course for the third act, as is the way with slashers the kill count really ramps up.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Poltergeist Diaries (2021) - Horror Film News and Trailer


A new trailer for the upcoming József Gallai directed horror film, The Poltergeist Diaries has been released by Bayview Entertainment. This features Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight) alongside András Korcsmáros and Kata Kuna and is about a man, Jacob Roberts who disappears shortly after moving to a remote cabin. All that is left behind is strange footage he had filmed, which family, friends and a detective use to try and find what has happened to him. From the trailer it looks to be very Blair Witch in style.|
The Poltergeist Diaries is coming soon to DVD and VOD.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Attack on Titan: Season 4 Part 1 (2020-21) - Anime TV Series Review


From the get-go it was clear that season 4 of hit anime Attack on Titan was going to be its final one, after all it is so set in stone that it makes up part of the season's title. What wasn't so clear is just how many episodes it was going to have. Each season of the show has had different episode amounts, but as these episodes came out it became clear the story wouldn't be able to finish within the stated sixteen. It was a relief then to discover a part 2 of this final season is due to come out this winter. Obviously this review will just be based on part 1, and obviously there will be unavoidable spoilers for people who haven't seen the previous seasons.

It is four years since the events of the third season in which the people of Paradis island learnt that their world is a whole lot bigger than they could have ever guessed. Away from their medieval style of living, and their Titan problem (huge humanoid man eating monsters) a whole other world exists, one that is far more modern in its technology. In a city far away, a bunch of Eldian recruits (including among them Falco and Gabi) for the Titan program, wage war against the enemies of Marley. Meanwhile the 'devils of Paradis' (as they are known) have been steadily working towards a plan that will safeguard themselves from the rest of the world. The only problem being Eren whose insatiable thirst for revenge could scupper these plans. Of course, not everything is as it seems...

This is a good season but it isn't without its issues. The biggest problem I had, at least initially is that the focus didn't seem to be on the characters I had grown to love, instead there was a whole bunch of new characters. It's an interesting idea to show things from the perspective of the enemy, but I found it hard to care at all about these new characters, some of which even annoyed the hell out of me. Primary new protagonist, Gabi is the most irritating of them all. I think she was meant to be the enemy version of Eren. Both are hot headed, and both rush into things without really thinking them through. Balanced with her is Falco, someone who seems much more cautious and thoughtful, he reminded me a lot of Armin. The first four episodes (The Other Side of the Ocean, Midnight Train, The Door of Hope, and From One Hand to Another) follow these new characters and I began to lose hope. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie (2021) - Horror Documentary Review


I knew as soon as I was offered the opportunity to review the feel good documentary Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie that it was something I needed to see, after all, it had zombie in the title. This is a behind the scenes look at 2016's Spring Break Zombie Massacre which sounds like a typical low budget zombie flick until you take a closer look and see that the idea for it came from two best friends with Down syndrome (who also star). The documentary not only does what it set out to do, but also includes the entire 45 minute zombie film itself, albeit with some concessions that hampered my enjoyment.

The first half of this is pure documentary, following the two friends as they, along with the help of family and friends go about bringing their dream of starring in a horror film to life. It was inspirational in how new to it all a lot of the people where. It charts the early days of a successful Kickstarter campaign all the way up to the filming and screening of it all. Rather than make this a film about Sam and Mattie this is about their dream. As such there isn't much backstory given to them and so it becomes much more interesting for a horror fan as the doc revolves around the creation film. This is designed to be a feel good doc, something which was nice and chill to watch. It meant the problems around creating this (especially during the shoot) are side lined and only really referenced in a small five minute segment towards the end of the doc part. Weirdly this as a whole reminded me of One Cut of the Dead, but reversed and actually real rather than fabricated.


It was hinted at throughout the first half that the film Spring Break Zombie Massacre would actually be shown in its entirety later on. I hadn't expected this and so I couldn't wait to see what the finished product would be like. An issue I had with this part is that the documentary part can't help but keep interjecting. On around three or four occasions the film pauses to give cutaway segments giving more details into the importance of a scene, whether that be getting product placement, or what a scene meant to the two friends. For a film that was already hard to follow these frequent cutaways felt quite intrusive, I can't help but feel there could have been a way to stick these at the end rather than interrupting the movie.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Zombies, Run!: Season 2 (2013) - Zombie Running App Review


I'm an infrequent runner, and when I do run it is only around a mile I am able to do. The thing that gets me to run in the outdoors is Zombies, Run! This running aid, created in 2012 gives you the incentive to jog by framing you as a 'runner' in a post-apocalyptic Britain in which a zombie plague was unleashed. Each episode taking the form of a small story, while also granting resources in which to upgrade a base. There will be spoilers for season 1 to follow. 

The first season ended dramatically with Able township's Runner 5 (the character you play as) being forced to seek sanctuary at New Canton, a community of people who were your adversaries for much of the season. It soon becomes clear there is a far bigger danger out there than this group, and putting differences aside Able teams up with New Canton in order to try and stop a mad scientist who has developed a device that lets him control the undead...

Season 1 was made up of 23 missions, this time around there are 45 main line missions, 16 side missions, and even 3 Halloween missions. That meant there was far more variation, and far more time to try and tell a more detailed and in depth story. What I enjoyed so much about season 1 was that many of the missions took place in woodland, useful as in the real world for that is the location I run around. For season 2 it felt like variation was the order of the day, throughout the main line missions you infiltrate a beached ocean liner, find yourself captive in several different places, including a prison complex, and you even get a couple of missions that are set in London. You encounter spies, murderers,cannibals, the intelligent dead and some thrilling in mission chases. There seemed to be a lot more characters but all were distinctive enough that it never got confusing as to who was who, even with me having taken around five year to get through it all! As bigger as the story is I did miss the more down to earth feel of the first season, though it was cool that the main story is wrapped up by the end of this, even if this season ends on a huge cliffhanger.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

The Black Veldt (2020) by Michael Reyes - Horror Novella Review


Getting back into a bad habit of taking forever to read books sent to me for review! To be fair, for whatever reason I was unable to get The Black Veldt by Michael Reyes working on my eBook reader and so had to read the 77 page novella on my computer. I have issues with where the story ended up going, however it was clear from the very start that this was a well written story, done in a sordid and grimy style that I particularly like.

Jose Carvel is a bit of a waste of a human being, an aspiring writer but spends his days in a dead end job, selling drugs to his co-workers. He lives in the slums of New York, but it is a setting that suits him, having come from a much worst place. One day he encounters an enchanting woman named Jakova. This mysterious lady sends Carvel on a downward spiral, while also seeming to have something to do with the nightmares that have plagued him his whole life.

I started making notes about The Black Veldt from around the sixth chapter of the nineteen chapter story. To begin with this had everything I enjoy, it is always entertaining to follow a reprobate protagonist, they make for much more interesting characters than wholesome people do. The first act is where this was at its best, I loved the descriptions of the down and out areas Carvel inhabits, I liked how weathered and used to the violence and criminality of his life he was, and how he was able to stick up for himself. I also enjoyed how his dark past was drip fed to the viewer, revelations occur due to incidents he gets caught up in.

The novella starts with a nightmare sequence and several more pop up during the course of the story, but it is chapter nine when this horror skips over into the real world, this is H.P Lovecraft by way of Charles Bukowski with all the mess that notion brings with it. This horror is what began to unravel the story for me. As Carvel becomes infatuated with Jakova his life descends into ruin, this is shown via the increasingly dream like feel the story takes on. Carvel starts out fully fleshed, but then as he gives in to addiction his character fades away into barely feeling present. The random locations, the random events, and the bizarre story all combine to create almost a feeling of stream of consciousness. I thought it was an interesting way to tell the story, but I also couldn't help but feel it took away from the solid world building that had gone on before. It culminates in a abrupt ending that thinking back on afterwards was kind of a neat idea, I liked what it suggested even if it came off the back of a meandering last third.

Regardless of my thoughts on how this all played out it was well written, you could almost feel the grime and degradation of the world. Reyes is a good writer, and I am actually also currently reading a different novel of his for future review. The Black Veldt does something original in feel, and that can only be a good thing.

SCORE:

Saturday, 10 April 2021

The Crow - Film Remake News


For years now there have been attempts to create a remake of the iconic 1994 Gothic superhero/horror The Crow. This was perhaps most well known for being actor Brandon Lee's final film role (as Eric Draven), due to a tragic accident on set. Details have recently leaked of a new attempt to get the remake created.

This latest go of The Crow remake is apparently due to come from Screaming Screening Productions, with Joe Cash (Slutty the Clown, Jezebel) attached as director. Ernie Hudson is in talks to reprise his role from the original, Lori Petty is in talks for a role also, and Claire Bacon would be playing Erica Draven, a role change that would make this different to just a straight remake. 
The initial budget of 40 million USD has now changed to 7 million USD. If this all goes ahead then filming of The Crow will begin next year.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Call of Cthulhu (2018) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation 4)


Cyanide
's horror video game Call of Cthulhu shares a strange history with Frogwares The Sinking City. Originally Focus Home Interactive hired Frogware to make a game based on the works of iconic horror author H.P Lovecraft, but they ended up severing ties with that company and instead hired Cyanide. Frogware were undeterred by this though and carried on to bring their game to completion. This has resulted in two different games that both share a hell of a lot of similarities. Coming into this fresh out of The Sinking City I was excited for more Lovecraft, however as enjoyable as Call of Cthulhu was it is a poorer version, something that the many similarities only highlighted.

Call of Cthulhu takes place on the remote island of Darkwater, in the 1920s. Former U.S soldier Edward Pierce (now a private investigator) has been hired by the father of renowned artist Sarah Hawkins to investigate the circumstances of her strange death on the island. Pierce arrives to find the islanders very secretive, though he makes an ally in the form of Officer Bradley. They soon discover that there is far more to the apparent accident than at first it seems. Their investigations uncover a hidden cult operating in the caverns underneath the island as well as the discovery of a creature that has somehow infiltrated their world via the paintings of Sarah Hawkins.

This review is going to be littered with comparisons to The Sinking City which I think is fair game as both share such a similar story. That game was a third person adventure that took place in a large open city setting. It featured lots of investigating as well as plenty of combat. Call of Cthulhu is a first person adventure that is level based. Each of the fifteen chapters places Pierce at a different constricted location. Starting off at the docks of Darkwater your adventure takes you to the Hawkins Mansion, a large asylum, caverns and other mainly small locations. There is no combat here (outside of one small section towards the game's conclusion), instead Pierce explores locations, finding clues, talking to other characters and solving mild puzzles. That isn't to say there is no threat, there are several levels that are stealth based and see you learning the movement of guards in order to sneak around places you shouldn't be. These stealth sections also take the form of avoiding the game's big monster character, The Shambler. Much of the game is very easy, it is more about the story than too many gameplay elements.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Homesick (2021) - Horror Film Review


With the Covid pandemic still ongoing and still affecting so many people around the world I'm not sure if people are really in the mood to watch films about the topic. On the other hand though this is a unique time to be alive in, and there is something kind of neat to be able to watch a film about the pandemic and on some level relate to the storyline going on. Lockdowns and social distancing has led to filmmakers having to adapt to the new circumstances, this has led to many films popping up over the past year that feature a much more reduced cast. Whether it is anthologies like The Isolation Horrors or short horrors like Shane Ryan's Autopilot these have all altered the way they work to make something that can affect people more by process of recognition. The Jason Farries (The Voodoo Man, Tommy) directed thriller Homesick is another that borrows its ideas from the real world, but at nearly two hours long perhaps outstayed its welcome a bit.

The pandemic has begun and so a student (Farries) has returned home from university to his parent's remote house in order to abide by the new lockdown rules. His parents were away on holiday on the other side of the world and have been unable to get back, and so the student finds himself truly isolated. At first he has plenty to do, but after discovering he has contracted the virus, and with the power out and food supplies running low he enters into a paranoid state. Is the paranoia a product of mental illness, or has the world really begun to descend into chaos?


Homesick for a good 90% of the runtime features just the one character, Farries has to carry a lot of the film on his shoulders and is partly successful. It's not really down to the actors fault, it is more that the character he plays is barely into adulthood, as such he is prone to tantrums, has a basic understanding of how to survive on his own, and is full of self pity. This makes for a protagonist who it was hard to like. There are a handful of other characters, most of which exist as voices on the phone, but occasionally real people turn up to split up the tedium the student is facing. Having an isolated character means the longer the movie is the more risk of boring the audience. That is almost the case here, but at least the film is split into chapters that neatly split up the acts, with something different occuring in all of them. Truth be told I didn't get to a stage where I was bored.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Camo vs. Genevieve (2021) - Short Horror Film Review


Yet another new entry in Nicholas Michael Jacob's Genevieve series of short films has emerged, again continuing on the story of the titular cursed doll. First there was Genevieve, a short horror based on a segment from the 2019 anthology film Urban Fears. This was followed up later last year with Genevieve Wrecks Havoc, and now comes Camo Vs. Genevieve which resurrects another character from Urban Fears.

Continuing directly on from the previous two shorts this sees masked slasher Camo (Jacobs) appearing at the house where the cursed doll resides. The two get into a battle with only one emerging victorious.
It seems each subsequent film gets shorter, with this one taking place over three minutes (that includes end credits). The highlight of this was the soundtrack, it was very eighties horror synth in style, which I loved. A common complaint is that these short films don't feel such much like films, but more like chapters from a bigger story. You couldn't head into this and leave satisfied with a complete story, instead it is like one more part of a larger jigsaw.

Genevieve is a fun creation, the look of it is as grotesque as ever, while the tricks used to make it seem like it is alive are as charmingly basic as ever. The battle between the two monsters is brief but fun, but as a story that is all it is, an all too brief fight that sheds no new story elements. As another stop on the journey this was enjoyable, if far too brief. If you have seen the others and have gotten something out of them then this will be worth watching. Camo vs. Genevieve releases on YouTube on the 1st May, so check it out then.

SCORE:

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Making Monsters (2019) - Horror Film Review


It is always good to come across a movie that is unapologetic in its drive to stay true to whichever genre it happens to inhabit. Such is the case with Making Monsters, directed by Justin Harding (Latched, Kookie and also on writing duties here) and Rob Brunner, this horror never pretends to be anything it isn't. When the stakes become raised for the hapless protagonists, things take a turn for the nasty and stay that way all the way up to the end credits.

Chris (Tim Loden - Bloodlines TV series) is a famous social media prankster with millions of subscribers online. His videos mainly take the form of him scaring his fiancée, Allison (Alana Elmer - Latched, Kookie) in various ways, usually by disguising himself as a killer. One day they meet an old friend of Chris' who invites them to come stay at his property, it's a converted church out in the middle of the country. The couple arrive there to find the friend is away on business, however his boyfriend, David (Jonathan Craig - Day of the Living?) is there and tells them he will look after them. After a night of wild partying full of drugs and alcohol Chris and Allison wake up to discover things have taken a change for the surreal. It appears to somehow be four days later, the power is out, their belongings are missing, there are hidden cameras found in the house and David is nowhere to be found...

I often try and avoid reading the synopsis of a film before watching it, I like to be surprised and not be clear on the way a movie is going to progress. This happened with Making Monsters. The prologue features a masked maniac pursuing a naked man across a field before shooting him and killing him. This was at odds with the film's first act which, remote location aside seemed far removed. I guessed this would be a home invasion movie but it never really approached that genre, it had more in common with something like My Little Eye. With a film like this it would ruin the surprise to go into much detail as to the specifics of what was going on, so I shall try and dance around that. The first act culminates in the wild drug party the trio have, and that was wonderfully shot and edited, featuring some lovely distorted scenes of Allison staring into a mirror, with the camera shot from the mirror's perspective. There was a lot of energy in these scenes and it paid off as despite the craziness it was the calm before the storm. From act two onwards is where the horror begins in earnest. It seemed to be giving a strong anti-drugs message, as when the two come to after their night of binging the after effects of it all are horrific for them. Allison in particular as she keeps hallucinating a monster in the house, which is at least partly explained duer to David's day job as a monster-make-up artist, and so the property is full of monstrous busts and suits.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Evil Dead II - Virtual Watch Party

Back in January of this year the iconic horror legend Bruce Campbell hosted a worldwide virtual watch party for The Evil Dead. Despite having to stay up until the ungodly hour of 4AM to attend I thought it was fantastic, it felt like Campbell had infinite stories he could tell about the background of creating that film. During the event he hinted that there could be future events based on his subsequent films and that has now been confirmed.

On Saturday April 12th Evil Dead II is going to be streamed live with Bruce Campbell once again hosting to offer his memories, stories, and anecdotes, as well as answering questions from the chat. There are a variety of ticket packages on offer that range from Basic Evil for $25 that includes the access to the livestream and VOD, all the way up to Ultimate VIP that includes a whole host of stuff for $2500.
It isn't all good news though, you may notice the 'worldwide' part of the title is now missing. As of writing this livestream will only be available in the United States and Canada, this is due to licensing issues and really sucks! If you are in either of those countries then attend, it will be great. For more details check here, where tickets can also be purchased.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Paintball Massacre (2020) - Comedy Horror Film Review


Paintball Massacre is a British comedy horror film that sounded like a cool idea, yet I am always dubious about those types of films as bad humour can really damage the enjoyment of a film. I was pleased to see however that while there are darkly comedic moments the general feel of this is far more geared towards the horror side of things. This was directed by cinematographer Darren Berry in his directorial debut, with the story written by Chris Regan.

A bunch of old school friends have headed to a high school reunion, many of whom haven't seen each other since leaving school a decade or so back. Jessica (Cheryl Burniston - This Camera is Broken) didn't have many happy memories of her school days so only agreed to go as her fiancé Simon had wanted to attend. When she learns he isn't going to come she plans to leave but a series of events leads to her not only staying at the party, but being roped into going paintballing with the reunion group the next day. At paintball the reunited school friends are all put on one team, things are going fine until they discover the team they are meant to be up against have been massacred. Armed only with paintball guns the group must protect themselves against a masked killer who seems determined to kill them for reasons that increasingly seem quite personal.


Paintball Massacre is a good horror film, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. Partly this was due to the low use of comedy, I appreciated that the humour didn't overshadow what was going on. The humour is mostly dark and leans more towards a funny script than visual jokes, such as Lauren ((Natasha Killip - Slasher House 3) commenting that she hopes their ordeal is over soon as she has a nail appointment booked for the afternoon, the stoner character constantly referring to the Fast and the Furious movies as a comparison for what is happening,  and of course the great line where someone is described as a 'fat turtle'. The killer in between murdering people is armed with a paintball gun, which leads to several ineffectual paintball battles between groups of characters and their attacker, that came off as bizarre and pointless in the best way. For me it led up to the best line in the movie when Tommy (Lockhart Ogilvie who has been a stuntman in such films as Dracula Untold and Level Up) exclaims "This is fu*king stupid! We're playing paintball with a maniac!" In context that was a hilarious line.