Tuesday, 31 August 2021

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

Another month has sped past, not in bad spirits as I'm on the cusp of a two week break from my day job at the lab. Despite putting out weekly news posts I still have 142 sat in my inbox, it's a losing battle I'm facing. On the plus side I now have a domain pointer for my blog. I may have lost therottingzombie but my pointer is now rottingzombie and of course the blogspot address still works fine. Towards the news.

I just have to start with the trailer for Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins new film, The Show. I'm so excited for this as it is set in Northampton, the town that I have lived in all my life. Alan Moore (legendary comic book writer whose work includes The Killing Joke, Watchmen and V for Vendetta) lives in my home town and it didn't used to be that rare to see him going about his daily business. He once did a signing at the local comic book store that I went to, he came across as a nice guy. Anyway, The Show is a surreal mystery directed by Jenkins that the press release states is 'an extraordinary mix of the dreamworld visions of Terry Gilliam with The League of Gentlemen'. The film takes place in an alternative universe in which a mysterious man arrives in the strange town of Northampton where he finds himself in a 'twilight world populated with vampires, sleeping beauties, Voodoo gangsters, noir private eyes, and masked avengers'. The Show premiered at Frightfest on 27th August, it is due to be released on Altitude.Film on 18th October.

On the 19th October is the release of Perfect Horror from Bayview Entertainment. The plot for this film has a film director bringing his crew to an abandoned and supposedly haunted factory in northern China, in order to shoot a horror film. They decide to stay the night to film, but this is when the trouble begins. The film is in Mandarin with English subtitles.

Glenn Danzig's second feature film, vampire Spaghetti Western Death Rider in the House of Vampires came to select theatres across America on 27th August. In the movie, a mysterious man in black travels on horseback across the desert. It gets weird when his destination turns out to be 'Vampire Sanctuary', a place that like Ronseal does what it says on the tin. The film stars Danny Trejo (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn), Julian Sands (The Killing Fields, Warlock), Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Idle Hands), Kim Director (The Deuce, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2) and Eli Roth (Inglorius Basterds, Cabin Fever), with director/writer Danzig in a supporting role. For more details check out the website.

A trailer has came out for Gregory Hatanaka's Amityville Cop that is due to be released by Cinema Epoch. It is written by Geno McGahee (Rise of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth) and stars Jason Toler (Crack House of the Dead) alongside Lisa London (Choke), Nicole D'Angelo (Quarantine Girl), Lovie Johnson (Prey of Wrath), Nino Cimino, Chris Spinelli and cult actress Laurene Landon (Hundra). The synopsis is that a city with a violent past sees the emergence of a demonic force that two detectives set out to stop.

Comedy horror film Chompy & the Girls has been acquired by Freestyle Digital Media for a North American VOD release on 14th September. The film is about a depressed young woman whose first time meeting her father goes very wrong when they witness a girl get swallowed entirely by a man! This was written and directed by Skye Braband and features Christie St. John, Steve Marvel, Seneca Palliotta, Julie Dolan, Hari Williams, Reggie Koffman, and a special appearance by Udo Kier who provides the voice of Chompy. Skye says of the film "we hoped to open up a discussion about what it means to grow, thrive, and live with mental health problems...Granted, we wanted to explore these themes in the most fun, surreal, and exciting way possible."

On 19th October the Italian horror classics Demons and Demons 2 get released on 4K UHD via Synapse Films. These Lamerto Bava cult movies are fantastic zombie-like horrors that show the classic era of Italian horror at its best. Going from my memory of having watched these, Demons has a bunch of people trapped inside a cinema in which a demonic outbreak has occurred. Demons 2 doesn't do too much to mess with the formula, in this one a bunch of people are trapped within a high-rise apartment complex in which a demonic outbreak has occurred. Both the limited edition two-disc UHD Blu-ray and the Blu-ray contain a heck of a lot of extras including commentaries, interviews, original trailers, and look-backs on the films.

Jon Morvay's animated short Lobster Girl and Other Tales is now available on Vimeo, Plex, and Zumo. This has a creepy animated graphic novel type look to it, I believe I once saw this under a different moniker, I may be mistaken. The titular story here involves a man who falls in love with a stripper with ectrodactyly (a rare limb malformation) and decides he wants surgery to look the same as her.

Onto music news now, synthpop/synthwave artist The Rain Within has released his new horror themed song Forward in Reverse. I will let the press release speak: '...is heavily influenced by the horror films that vocalist/producer Andy Deane fell in love with as a child. It is driven by repetitious, haunting melodies that call back spiritually to themes from the films of Argento, Fucli, and Carpenter'. Forward in Reverse can be heard here.

Harrisburg, PA based heavy rock band Eternal Frequency have released an official music video for their cover of the all time classic Nine Inch Nails song Head Like a Hole. The cover doesn't do much to change up the song, though the female vocals of front-woman Emelle Elizabeth is enough to set it apart. The song can be downloaded/streamed from all the main digital music platforms. I'm really in the mood to listen to some classic NIN now.

Fort Worth, TX based heavy rock band Lockjaw have released a new official music video for their latest single, Silence the Fear. It was directed by Jeremy Peterson and produced by Chris Collier, who is also producing the band's upcoming album. I will include the video below, and follow the link here if you're interested in getting a hold of the single.

Gothic/industrial metal band Autumn Stay have revealed their new video for the single Closer to the Edge. The track is about the negative side of being an artist, how being so committed to your art that it can drive you crazy. Erik Gustafson, the cinematographer of the track said of it "I tried to dramatically light the shots to not only give a classic dark aesthetic to it. But we also had a really cool location, this old church. So I wanted to capture some kind of dark beauty as well, especially with the deep red tones and lighting, I was able to add a frantic feel with some creative editing and color correction themes".

Finally, Detroit deathgaze dup Vazum have released a new music video for their song Razor Smile that comes from their latest album, V+. The video was filmed by the duo in their home studio and directed by vocalist/bassist Emily Sturm. The lyrics for the song speak about the hypocrisy of people who watch porn while at the same time belittling them for the work they choose to do. The video was inspired by the films of Dario Argento and Panos Cosmatos. Razor Smile and the rest of Vazum's music can be purchased here.

Monday, 30 August 2021

The Retaliators (2021) - Horror Film Review

The Retaliators
is a bloody and violent revenge thriller with a bit of a difference. Co-directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr. (Railway Spine) and Bridget Smith (Sno Babies), with a story written by Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare, this film combines horror and rock music into a gory and occasionally comedic whole, and also features the acting debut of Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix. The movie is made up of two distinct elements, and the way these two things fit together within the context of the film is never carried out that smoothly.

Bishop (Michael Lombardi - Flesh Eating Mothers) is a mild mannered pastor whose world is torn apart after his teenage daughter Rebecca (Abbey Hafer) is murdered at the hands of Ram Kady (Joseph Gatt - Game of Thrones). Having always preached about love and forgiveness, Bishop finds himself morally challenged when he is given the opportunity for revenge by Jed (Marc Menchaca - Homeland).

The two elements that I talked about in my intro are key to the film as a whole. The way they rub up against each other leads to what at times feels like two different films entirely stitched together. In the prologue we see a typical horror movie trope of two teenage girls lost in the backroads of America when their car breaks down. While investigating the reason, the girls are attacked by what appear to be inbred hillbillies, Bishop appears coated in blood and attempts to help, until being dragged off camera. I spent about forty five minutes after seeing this wild prologue wondering how on Earth the film was ever going to end up in this unlikely scenario. It isn't immediately clear, but the prologue takes place deep into the film's third act. The first two acts shed no light at all on this. Instead the film doesn't really even feel like a horror, much more a crime drama. The character of Bishop is a bit of a wet blanket, the type of person who wouldn't say boo to a goose. This fits the friendly pastor vibe he has going very well and so he was likeable. 

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Dave Made a Maze (2017) - Comedy Horror Film Review

I think it may have been earlier this year when I first heard of the Bill Watterson directed surreal comedy horror/fantasy film Dave Made a Maze. I was very excited about the premise of the film and so upon seeing today that it was on Shudder I had to watch it immediately. In terms of sheer imagination it did not disappoint, there is no other film out there like this one. It has maybe the best set design of any film I have seen in recent memory. It does have its own share of problems as at one hour twenty it still feels a little overlong.

Dave (Nick Thune - The Possession of Hannah Grace) is a struggling artist who in his frustration at never being able to complete any project he starts decides to make a box fort out of cardboard in his living room. Three days later his long suffering girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) arrives home to find Dave's creation. From within his fort Dave explains he is trapped, unable to find a way out of the cardboard maze he has created within. Warned not to either enter the maze or to dismantle it, an exasperated Annie calls up Dave's best friend, Gordon (Adam Busch - Leon) convinced her boyfriend is having some sort of mental breakdown. He arrives along with a bunch of other people that includes among them film director Harry (James Urbaniak) and his crew consisting of a cameraman (Scott Narver) and a boom operator (Frank Caeti). Eventually, everyone against Dave's warnings decide to head into the small maze. They are shocked to discover the inside is a gargantuan cardboard labyrinth, one that is full of deadly traps and which is stalked by a man eating minotaur (John Hennigan - WWE wrestler John Morrison)…

Apparently the idea behind this film was to recreate the classic fantasy films of the 1980's, I imagine films like Labyrinth and Return to Oz are two such examples. This film is a masterful creation. The premise itself is very compelling but to then have the cardboard labyrinth so well realised is genius. Everything within this is so incredibly inventive. From when the group go into the maze everything looks like it is made out of cardboard or paper, there are origami paper birds flying around, mosaics made out of playing cards, huge cardboard statues spitting out streams of paper, traps that operate via rope and cardboard cogs and gears. Each scene really does bring with it something different, heck, there is even one scene where the cast all turn into cardboard puppets! This does lead to one of the issues with the movie, even at the length it is it feels overlong, there were a few scenes that felt tangential to what was going on. A scene in the third act really brought events to a halt. For some reason Annie and Dave are suddenly in a cardboard version of their kitchen, talking utter nonsense about drinking coffee and wine as they in turn are shown to be wearing various cardboard and paper outfits. The scene added nothing whatsoever and with the high stakes story it interrupted I don't understand why it was felt this scene was needed, other than to pad out the length.

Friday, 27 August 2021

The Rotting Zombie's Anthology News 7: August Part V

Another delectable serving of news presented in a triple dose. On a personal note I've been playing a lot of the cyberpunk video game The Ascent, the music and lighting in that game are to die for. Actually, at the time of putting this up I have now finished that and moved onto Psychonauts 2.

Kate Li's Into the Night is due for release on 19th October from Bayview Entertainment. The synopsis is that after her fiancé is murdered mysteriously, Jane has to search through the evidence herself to discover the truth. This will be coming to a variety of DVD outlets and VOD platforms.

Zombie Lover came out on DVD on 27th July again via Bayview Entertainment. This was from British writer/director Jason Impey. I will leave it to the press release for the synopsis: 'A mad scientist, star-crossed lovers and a zombie plague all combine for a wild romp in the English woods. A deadly affair leads to a brutal murder which takes Dillon and Stacy into an evil world of the undead. Zombie Lover takes a hard turn from an impulsive murder tale and a body dump to a horror story that gets weirder and weirder as things progress'. Zombie Lover can be purchased here if you are so inclined.

Finally, A Quiet Place Part II is available to download and keep now, and is due to be released on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on 30th August as part of a two movie collection. A 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray steelbook is also going to be available. The sequel to the hit 2018 horror sees the Abbott family on the search for a new place to live, taking with them the secret of how to keep the monsters that have invaded the planet. I said in my review "...is a sequel that doesn't take many risks, but it never need to...I enjoyed this just as much as the first film".

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Army of the Dead (2021) - Zombie Horror Film Review

Yes, I know, it's shocking that someone who purports to love zombie films so much has only just gotten around to watching Zack Snyder's (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Dawn of the Dead) new undead film Army of the Dead. There were a few factors in my weak defence, the primary one being that several people whose opinions I believed I valued said it was a huge disappointment, and secondly that the film is a whopping two and a half hours in length. As to that first point, the film sits at a dour 5.8 out of 10 on IMDB currently. I am however often wont to enjoy films that others may not see as much good. My favourite horror film of all time after all is the much maligned Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Army of the Dead does absolutely nothing to move the zombie genre forward, it does however offer an attractive zombie action flick with a star studded cast that gives no surprises but is competently enjoyable.

The film takes place six years after a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas led to it being sealed off from the outside world. The President of the United States has ordered the destruction of the city via nuclear bomb in order to ensure the zombie plague never gets out. Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada - The Wolverine) was an owner of a casino in the city and he concocts a plan to recover the $200 million that still rests in its vault. He recruits mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista - Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy) who puts together a crack team to perform the heist. These include his former teammates Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera - The Forever Purge) and Venderohe (Omari Hardwick - Spell) as well as German safe cracker, Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), a pilot, Marianne Peters (the digitally added comedian Tig Notaro) and other hired guns. Also coming along is Tanaka's henchman Martin (Garret Dillahunt - No Country for Old Men) and Ward's daughter Kate (Ella Purnell - Kick-Ass 2) who forces herself onto the team in order to find a missing woman from the nearby refuge camp she volunteers at. What at first seems to be a perfectly planned mission starts to go awry with the discovery of a group of intelligent zombies living within the ruins, and a traitor within the group...

People would often say the same thing to me, that Army of the Dead begins good but then there is a huge lull in the middle. I would disagree. Sure, the prologue is full of zombie mayhem, featuring both the primary zombie antagonist; the hulking Zeus (Richard Cetrone - Underworld) and a montage of slow motion zombie kills that reminded me a lot of the opener to Zombieland. The actual middle of this film is full on action. I think it is more the film's first act that people have a complaint with. To me the flow made logical sense, this first act serves to introduce all the characters in a Suicide Squad kind of fashion. It is the only time we really get to see these characters in a more normal setting. I have to mention I didn't see this film all in one go, I watched it in about three to four sittings, so maybe if I had consumed this all at once the lack of action in this first act would have bothered me more.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology Round-Up No.6: Return of the August IV

Lamentations and salutations. I've had an issue with my Blogger pointer for a while, there was a hosting issue. Now things have gotten worse in that the domain name the blog was pointing to lapsed and over 3,000 links on my site are pointing to an ad address that some domain squatters have put up. I am very slowly working through my blog to correct all this but it's going to take a good while! It's a darn good thing I do this for my own personal enjoyment and not in an effort to actually get a name out there. On the plus side I know have a new domain pointer and that is http://www.rottingzombie.co.uk/, much thanks to Dan for that!

Lionsgate released Room 9 on DVD and digital on July 20th, this was written and directed by Thomas Walton. This horror stars Scout Taylor-Compton (Cynthia, Rob Zombie's Halloween), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th Parts 7-10). The synopsis is that the titular 'Room 9' at an inn in a remote town was the site of a violent double murder decades past. Now the mysterious killings have started again, a woman named Star arrives to investigate and begins to experience flashbacks to the initial killings that she can't explain.

Rebirth, an adaptation of George Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead is available now from Midnight Releasing. This comes from Roger Conner and stars Aswan Harris, Rachel Anderson, Alvin Hudson, and Conners. The adaptation has two brothers on their annual visit to their family grave site who get caught up in a zombie outbreak. The film is online to rent or buy, one such place to do this is at Vimeo. The original Romero classic was infamously not copyrighted meaning anyone can do whatever they like with it.

Finally, Anne, With Love is a new psychological thriller that is currently filming in Los Angeles. This is to feature Mena Suvari (American Horror Story) and Danielle Harris (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) alongside Blaine Morris (Skins) who is set to star. The film is to be directed by George Henry Horton (Dreadspace) from a script he co-wrote with Morris. The synopsis is that a painter (Morris) begins to struggle with her inner demons after her husband vanishes.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Old (2021) - Horror Film Review

is the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan (The Visit, The Sixth Sense) and was based on a French graphic novel. I have decided to duck out of visiting the cinema regularly this year so haven't kept up to date with new releases. It was only due to my sister going on about wanting to see this, and then my father coincidentally getting gifted some free cinema tickets that I ended up going. Shyamalan has somewhat of a chequered past, for every Split there is a Glass, and sadly this one falls into the wrong side of his output. While the idea behind it is good the execution was less impressive, some bad casting choices and an overlong run time made this into more of a chore than it should have been.

Guy (Gael García Bernal), his wife, Prisca (Vicky Krieps) and their two young children, Trent and Maddox have gone away on a vacation to a holiday resort that Prisca discovered online. The day after they arrive the friendly resort manager (Gustaf Hammarsten) tells the family he can take them to a secluded beach away from the rest of the other guests, something he only offers to the people he takes a liking to. They, along with another family, consisting of a doctor called Charles (Rufus Sewell - Dark City), his younger wife, Chrystal (Abbey Lee), his elderly mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant) and his young daughter Kara are taken by van across the island to this small beach that is surrounded by craggy cliffs, with the promise of the van driver being back to collect them at five. At the beach they meet another couple, Jarin (Ken Leung - Lost) and Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird - The Omen) as well as a young man, a rapper called Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre). All is going well until the discovery of a dead body, with no phone reception one of them tries to leave to get help, only to wake up back on the beach after having blacked out. It soon becomes clear they are trapped on the beach, however they try to leave they end up waking up back on the sand after having blacked out. This is followed by an even more darker discovery, all of the group are advancing at a hyper accelerated rate, as the older adults begin to die, and the children change into adults, all wonder just how they are going to be able to escape their strange fate.

Shyamalan has the unfortunate pressure of always being expected to have a great twist ending and with Old I can't say it was one of the better ones. Of course I can't reveal it other than to say I got an accidental vague spoiler prior to watching it, but I think it was kind of meant to be obvious anyway. The concept of disparate strangers trapped on a beach while rapidly aging was certainly interesting. Unfortunately the setting itself led to a lot of the boredom. Aside from the first ten minutes or so nearly the whole film takes place on this small slip of featureless land. Despite everything thrown at the viewer to keep their attention I was getting quite bored by the end, even if that contains some of the more horrific moments. Old is nearly one hour fifty in length, truth be told I think a ninety minute run time would have benefitted this a lot more. The movie had the annoying habit of having characters react to something the viewer can't yet see and then ever so slowly revealing it to the audience. This just about worked the first time but by the fourth or fifth time it became quite annoying. Sometimes things really are left to your imagination (such as the discovered corpse later having completely decomposed).

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Retro Horror (2020) - Horror Anthology Book Review

Do you know how hard it is to Google a book titled Retro Horror? Pretty darn hard it has to be said, which I discovered upon trying to research this horror anthology book that was released in 2020. Retro Horror brings together twelve different short horror stories, each one from a different author, published by Nightmare Press. Anthologies usually have a theme and for this one, as the descriptive title might suggest this one is retro feeling horror stories. The quality here varies a little bit but for the most part I enjoyed them, there were some I think could have been tweaked, but even the weaker ones fitted the theme well with none feeling out of place. Even better though is that there are a couple of real gems here.

Retro Horror opens with Gregg Chamberlain's One Monster King to Rule Them All, this happened to be my least favourite even if it is one that really fits the retro vibe. Here we have a comedy about a show in which the most notorious monsters of the world get voted on to see which comes out the best of all time. This had a 1950s/60s vibe to it with the characters and creatures all feeling very cartoon like.
The Mouth of the Deep by Stanley B. Webb on the surface should have been great. The only sea based story this had a small ship attempting to retrieve precious cargo from a sunken ship that is guarded by a giant octopus. The way this was written felt slightly weird to me, the claustrophobia and fear of diving in dangerous waters was diluted by the way characters would flit from ship to wreck within the space of a few sentences, this killed a lot of the atmosphere for me.
The Trails of Dr. Rains felt like an old fable. Written by Matthew M. Montelione, this had a rich girl whose parents restricted her to the house and its gardens, but who is tempted away into the nearby forest. It wasn't bad but didn't leave too much of an impression.

Mothsquito was one of two stories that had monsters that sounded like they came straight out of old style B-movie films. This one, written by Pedro Iniquez had a film crew out in the desert encountering the titular abomination. I really liked the setting, and for how the story went along.
Pirantulas! by Angela Yuriko Smith was the second animal mash-up. In this one a group of students encounter the horrific mash-up of creatures at a remote river, just as darkly humorous as Mothsquito.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Eerie Fairy Tales (2019) - Horror Anthology Film Review

Eerie Fairy Tales is an Estonian horror anthology that combines four of director Mart Sander's short horror films into one whole. Any regular reader of this blog will know I love anthology films, variation is rarely a bad thing. Being films of Sander means that all four were written and directed by him, he was even responsible for the original music used here. There was only one short here I didn't enjoy too much, but by far the shortest that didn't really impact on my enjoyment.

The wraparound story has a shadowy figure reading from an old book of fairy tales, the pages are all blank so the stories he tells are from his mind. The first short is Actually which takes place on a dark and stormy night at a remote hotel. A mysterious woman (Jekaterina Novosjolva) appears and asks for a drink. Starved for company the bartender begins to tell her about the dark past the local area has had. As the twenty minute short goes on there is a back and forth between the two that makes you question from which one the horror is to come. There was a great atmosphere here, kind of a film noir vibe with the mysterious woman in her coat and hat. While the story didn't end up anywhere too surprising I did appreciate the ending that was open to interpretation as to what had actually transpired.

In a complete change of direction the second short, Abeyance takes place in modern day. Two Interpol officers (played by Tanel Saar and Mart Müürisepp) visit the location of a secret underground hanger that once belonged to the Nazis. They are greeted by the caretaker (Märt Koik) who discloses that the rumours of a UFO being housed there for the past 75 years are true. He also alleges that everyone who has ever seen it has immediately requested to have their memories of the event wiped due to the horrific experience. This was a real gem, the build-up to the reveal took up a lot of the time and was fantastic. Of course, the reveal itself couldn't live up to that but it was still an interesting story that had elements of a H.P Lovecraft story. There was an obvious twist towards the end, but then this is countered with a great final unexpected twist.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology Round-Up No.5: Attack of the August III

I've found that I quite enjoying writing these smaller news posts, they are short enough that they are not a hassle to write, while the varying stories bring about some...well variation to what I am telling. The only downside is that they really are not helping my overflowing and bloody news sack from getting any slimmer.

Starting off with the news of a new EP coming from Alaskan dark punk/death rock duo, Cliff and Ivy. The EP, titled Bring Us The Night is available on limited edition 7" vinyl and digital formats. The press release states 'Cliff and Ivy's music is influenced by magic. Their psychedelic style lyrics are derived from synesthesia. The mission of Bring Us The Night is to make fast dark punk songs with weird supernatural themes.' The four track EP includes Bring Us The Night, Chasing Blood, Dominion, and Parasite and can be purchased from their Bandcamp page.

Film news arrives this week with an Australian sci-fi film titled High Strangeness. This comes from Fractured Visions Films, who are an independent film company from West Australia. The press release promises their sci-fi horror film has 'stunning relevance to the current wave of UFO disclosure'. In the movie Abigail White (Britt Harlow) returns to the farm where she lived as a child. Here she experiences nightmares and memories from her childhood. After meeting local crazy man Mason Bennett (Casper Jean Rimbaud) she discovers she is an unwilling participant in a government/alien conspiracy.
The film is a prequel to Rimbaud's novel Post Encounter which itself was about 'shadow government programs and the stealth control of Earth by a malevolent extraterrestrial race'. High Strangeness is due for an August release, for more details check out the Fractured Visions Films website.

Final story for this week is that Behind the Random Denominator arrives on DVD and digital on 28th September via Bayview Entertainment. Described as a slow-burning psychological horror story this sees 'a bizarre duel of minds develops between an alcoholic writer and an anonymous caller on a stormy night'. The film apparently creates 'an oppressive atmosphere of unawareness' via minimalistic means. For me it was the title that drew me in, I'm a sucker for an intriguing title, it helps the trailer is compelling as well.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Coven (2020) - Horror Film Review

is a modern day witch story set on a college campus. I got the feeling watching this that it wanted to be something memorable like The Craft but instead its over use of the scantily clad cast walking around trying to look cool in slow motion made this mostly forgettable. This was directed by Margaret Malandruccolo with a story written by Lizzie Gordon (writer of The Last Exorcist), who also starred as the protagonist.

Ronnie (Jennifer Cipolla) is the leader of a coven of student witches whose aim is to resurrect a powerful witch from the past known as Ashura. Being quite evil, during the incantation to summon her back, Ronnie in a fit of anger kills one of the five witches that make up her coven. The result of doing this is that they are one person short, and so they use a spell to locate a possible replacement. The replacement is found in the form of Sophie (Gordon), a history student whose biggest aim is to find a way to bring her deceased mother back to life. With the promise of this being made possible should she join Ronnie's coven and help resurrect Ashura, Sophie happily joins, somehow unaware of just how evil most the group actually are.

This wasn't a good movie unfortunately, it isn't even down to the cast, as over the top and ridiculous as many of them are. The story here is as bland as they come, over the course of eighty minutes barely anything happens. That the whole plot begins because Ronnie killed an essential member of her coven is ridiculous, especially when no one else seems that bothered she did this. The whole thing with witchcraft films have led me to believe is that there is the law of karma. Sophie is warned that magic costs a price, yet she joins up with the bad guys, has her own little hanging out with bad guys montage (that seems to mostly consist of dancing around in her underwear for some reason) and gets no repercussions. This was one of my biggest complaints, the amount of scenes of the witches all dressed up in sexy lingerie doing stuff in slow motion. They could have least made an excuse as to why they had to be wearing barely any clothes, but no, there wasn't and so it just came off as weird. There are also a couple of scenes set two hundred years in the past that really show off the lack of budget.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Cynthia (2018) - Comedy Horror Film Review

When Cynthia started and I was immediately greeted with iconic horror actor Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses) I knew it couldn't all be bad. Directed by Devon Downs and Kenny Gage (Killer Ink) with a story written by Robert Rhine (Exorcism at 60,000 Feet) this mutant baby horror follows a similar path to Basket Case and particularly It's Alive and abandons any thoughts of taking itself seriously relatively early on. 

Robin (Scout Taylor-Compton - Halloween) is desperate for a baby, with her and her husband Michael (Kyle Jones - Exorcism at 60,000 Feet) having trouble conceiving and not having a lot of money they turn to a dodgy Chinese company to buy fertility treatment from. Eventually the miracle happens and Robin is overjoyed to be pregnant. On the happy day the doctor discovers a large cyst in with the baby, which he promptly throws into the medical waste. This cyst however is actually the mutated twin of Robin's baby Samantha. None too pleased with being discarded, and with a desire to be close to it's twin the mutant creature (later named Cynthia) makes it's way back, leaving a bloody body count along the way.
The relationship between Robin and Michael becomes increasingly rocky after the baby is born, not helped by the ever present Cynthia who causes chaos around their house, all the while somehow managing to remain hidden.

I have never seen It's Alive but know the general outline, the fact that both feature a hospital scene where a mutated baby kills staff isn't a coincidence, Cynthia is obviously inspired by that film. This horror succeeds on two fronts. Firstly it wisely decides not to try and tell a serious story. This is shown both in the way characters behave and how events play out. All characters here felt like they were from a sitcom, they react in ways that would be unbelievable were it not for the comedic way the film runs. Robin is meant to be the protagonist character here but she was hard to really like, even if she was for a lot of the run time more sympathetic than Michael could be. Cynthia takes place over the span of four years and so there are frequent jumps that take a while for the viewer to reacclimatise. The most impactful of these was a key moment at the end of the second act when the whole scope of the film changes with a revelation for one of the characters. It led into a surreal third act in which Robin seems to have gone a little crazy. There were a nice collection of side characters here, the one who stood out the most was Ben Whalen (I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu, Killer Ink) who played the hospital janitor. He had some great lines, I particularly liked the bit where he recounts his stereotypical life story without being asked, and his completely unfazed reaction to discovering two corpses. As pointless and short as the role was it was cool to see horror legend Bill Moseley (Gothic Harvest, Repo! The Genetic Opera) here as well. There was no need for him to even be here, but playing a cross dressing homeless man with glee, he stuck out in the mind!

Saturday, 14 August 2021

The Last Exorcist (2020) - Horror Film Review

The Last Exorcist
is a demonic possession film that bizarrely manages to add elements of Star Wars into its mix. Directed and with a screenplay written by Robin Bain this provides a female take on the genre, but the indie budget and some random elements mean that the pieces don't quite come together, especially in the strange finale.

Father Peter (Dennis LaValle) of the Catholic church is killed, along with a load of other priests in a Satanist led terrorist attack at an exorcist convention that apparently the world's entire population of exorcists were attending! Jo (Rachele Brooke Smith - Iron Man 2) saw him as a father figure and with his death she begins to experience strange visions relating to her childhood. Meanwhile, her alcoholic sister Maddie (Terri Ivens - Coven) begins to behave more erratically and soon Jo fears a demon has possessed her. With the help of a former priest, Marco (Danny Trejo - 3 from Hell, Machete) who attempted to help in the exorcism of her mother as a child, Jo realises she must become an exorcist, the world's last exorcist, in order to free Maddie from the evil within her.

I do like a good possession film, I also don't really mind bad ones as long as they put some energy into their creation. The Last Exorcist is a strange beast, there are scenes of perhaps demonic possession but the meat of the film is dedicated to Jo and the slow understanding of events from her youth. Jo herself was a fine enough character, if a little bland, her sister however didn't fare as well. Ivens seemed to be channelling the over the top stereotype of an alcoholic, lurching around her scenes, her character flitting between over the top flirting and angry outbursts as she slurs her lines. Adding in the possession angle and things become a little bit cringe. This movie sees possession more as relating to mental illness, in this case alcoholism, with Jo and Maddie's mother also being an alcoholic. There was however a deeper supernatural part to this that points to a definite root cause. It was nice to see the iconic Trejo here, I expected a tiny bit part from him, initially that seemed to be the case. Thankfully he makes a reappearance for nearly the entirety of the film's third act, while he doesn't really do much other than stand around talking he made the film a lot better than it should have been.

Friday, 13 August 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology Round-Up No.4 (August)

Another three news stories picked somewhat randomly out my news sack. First up, I played the Back 4 Blood beta and I have to say my first impressions really sucked. I only had time to try one game of it this weekend and it was a very quick game. This is a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead and I think plays and looks much the same. Four players team up to battle across a map that is filled with running zombies as well as much stronger boss zombies. I launched into a game that was already in progress, I spawned in a safe room, armed with just a machete. There was a shop but I started with no money so couldn't actually afford to buy a gun, my team mates were all far off in the distance. Leaving the safe house I wandered around a few empty streets before I was suddenly grabbed from behind by a boss zombie. It then proceeded to strangle the life out of me over the course of a minute with no way for me to escape its clutches. Once I was down and with my team mates far too far away to assist I decided to speed up my death, my reward was a game over screen saying there were no continues left for me to respawn. As first impressions go I was very unimpressed, it seemed bizarre to spawn me so far away from my team mates, and equally bizarre that you don't appear to start the game with any kind of gun. I will try this on Game Pass when it releases but I certainly won't be paying money to play this!

Supernatural action film Lazarus is now available to buy and rent On-Demand and Digital platforms. The film stars Sean Riggs (S.W.A.T., You), Costas Mandylor (Saw IV), Aeriel Miranda (Straight Outta Compton), Shane Brolly (Underworld) and many more. In Lazarus a man is killed but then awakens to find himself brought back to life and with super powers. He decides to battle the organisation responsible for all the evils of his city.

Finally, Jeffrey Nothing, former vocalist for Mushroomhead has released an official music video for new single The Outage. The video was directed by Ian D. Sniesak and edited and shot by Jon Connor, with assisted videography by Thomas Church and Aj Taranto. Check out the video below.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Demented (2021) - Horror Film Review

is an indie exploitation horror that was written and directed by Nigel Hartwell (Insight of Evil, Dead by Dawn). The main draw for a lot of people not knowing anything about the film will be the iconic actors and wrestlers who appear. The exploitation genre isn't one of my favourites, I find them to be usually needlessly violent and misogynistic, but Demented does things slightly different by being surprisingly quite tame in what is shown. 

Amanda (Cheyenne Ennis - Insight of Evil, Dead by Dawn) has gone away on a holiday with her boyfriend to his remote holiday cabin. As we know from the prologue, that has the boyfriend being interviewed by a Detective (Felissa Rose - Camp Twilight, Sleepaway Camp) at a police station, things don't end well for the woman. After a wonderful evening in which she is proposed to, she inexplicably wakes up chained to a bed in an abandoned motel, at the mercy of a chainsaw wielding sicko. Unwittingly the star of her very own snuff film Amanda struggles against her fate. Meanwhile as time passes more female victims find themselves in a similar situation with the same twisted killer.

There was a screen of text at the movies start that I assumed was there just to set the scene, it was talking about the number of women who go missing each year and how some end up enslaved in the sex trade. While Demented in no way is a tenderly handled movie it does give the female victims a voice by having them in more of a pivotal role than might be expected. Exploitation usually conjures up images of over the top bloody torture and naked victims, here though in a way I found refreshing that was not so much the case. Sure, there are a lot of breasts on show, but the victims are fully dressed for the most part, rape is implied rather than shown due to both victim and attacker being fully dressed, and outside of some CG this is completely blood free. There is also the inclusion of some unexpected possibly supernatural moments that left me guessing as to what was going on.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Badass Bunyip (2021) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Badass Bunyip is a comedy horror film that was directed by Gerado Chierchia (Toxic Alien Zombie Babes from Outer Space) and written by and starring David Black (Sinister Symbiosis) as well as Anastasia C. Kouloukas (Sinister Symbiosis). I had only ever seen Black in short horrors before and so was interested to see how he would handle a feature film. At its heart Badass Bunyip is a creature feature, a genre that I don't have the greatest love for, mainly due to films from this sub section of horror often feeling overlong. On the plus side this has a huge body count, but I was ready for the end long before it came.

It is Christmas day in the Australian inner seaside suburb of St Kilda in Melbourne and idiotic Dazza (Black, who also plays a few other roles here) has taken his equally idiotic girlfriend Shazza (Kouloukas) for a picnic at a local park. The location chosen however is on a sacred Aboriginal site and the picnic happens to take place on the annual day that the mythical Bunyip creature heads out to kill.

When I heard of this feature film I imagined it would be around an hour in length, so I was slightly worried to see a run-time of one hour forty seven minutes. I wondered how an indie film such as this would be able to capture my attention for so lengthy a time. Things started off well, I was impressed by the quality which seemed to be stronger than that of the many shorts of Blacks I have seen. Being based on an Aboriginal legend I had been concerned that fun may have been made out of that belief, but instead it is the opposite way around. Thanks to an all knowing character of an Aboriginal narrator it is instead the non native people who are ridiculed here. These narration segments were the highlight of the film, I loved the way the narrator spoke, and I liked the brief historical lessons he would give (complete with stock photos). My only complaint here was that there were just three or four of them, it felt like it would have been nice to end on one of these as well.

Monday, 9 August 2021

The Rotting Zombie's News Anthology Round-Up No.3 (August 2021)


Viva Las Vengeance: Army of the Dead is an awesome sounding VR experience that is heading to London this September via Netflix in partnership with Fever and Pure Imagination Studios. This mobile-location-based VR experience will also be coming to several cities in the US including LA, Miami and New York. Over 30 minutes up to 6 players team up 'on a rescue mission to save survivors trapped in zombie-infested Las Vegas as part of the Las Vengeance rescue mission crew. Each truck allows players to see, hear, and feel the action at hand with high-end virtual reality headsets and state-of-the-art motion platforms bringing the action to life'. Tickets for this went on sale on 4th August and prices are from £18. This sounds like a load of fun and for people concerned about the safety 'extensive hygiene and social distancing regulations in accordance with local state mandates will be in effect'. For more details and for tickets check out the website.

Severin Films have announced their Summer line-up, all their films are now out. On 22nd June Invaders of the Lost Gold, Strike Commando, Strike Commando 2 and The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee Collection were released. The later is an 8 disc Blu-ray collection as well as a book and soundtrack CD. This brings together five different films of the iconic actor - Crypt of the Vampire, Castle of the Living Dead, Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism and Challenge the Devil. The 27th July saw the release of Skinned Deep, Siege and Born for Hell. More details of those can be found here.

Finally, a teaser trailer for upcoming film Alien Vampire Busters has been released. This film comes from Robert Nemere and includes among its cast Eric Roberts, Andy Dick, Mike Ferguson, Shawn C. Phillips, Felissa Rose, Jeremy London, Lara Jean Sullivan, and Dave Sheridan. It takes place in a sleepy town where alien vampires, corrupt politicians, and strange locals exist. Alien Vampire Busters is due for release on 1st September 2021.

Friday, 6 August 2021

The Moonlight Man (2016) - Short Horror Film Review

Due to being away on a short vacation I decided to watch a bunch of short films for review so that I had some posts stored up. The Moonlight Man is a short horror coming in at under three minutes. Written and directed by Danny Donahue (Vermin, Grin) this doesn't try and do much to set itself apart from the crowd.

Late at night a young woman (Casey Fichtner - Vermin) is walking back to her car when she notices the shadowy figure of an odd looking man (Phillip Kreyche - The Creep). Fumbling for her keys she drops them and as she struggles to find where they have gone the moonlight man gets nearer...

I've seen this type of horror film many times before, that of a lone woman on an isolated street at night being stalked by a male figure. Horror films are a mirror to the fears of our reality and it can't be denied that take away all the make-up and costume design of the titular monster character and you would have something that felt more real. That doesn't mean that this was too effective however, while it was good the monster was kept out of sight for the most part it was still obviously a man dressed up in a costume and not an actual monster, so much so I wondered if that would turn out to be the case within the film. The horror aspect was a miss for me but this was still competently made, and this gets a shout out for resisting the urge to finish on one of those lame jump scare endings that so often plague short horror films.

Despite any misgivings I had as to the originality of The Moonlight Man there isn't much excuse for not watching it, at under three minutes it doesn't have time to be anywhere near to outstaying its welcome. Outside of its lack of surprises this wasn't that bad a film, good enough that a sequel was made to it in 2017. The Moonlight Man can be seen on YouTube.


Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Peephole (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

With short horror films there always seems a compulsion to end them on the most obvious way possible. Something which I guess at one point was surprising becomes almost like a full stop to these type of short films. Peephole, written and directed by Jaron Henrie-McCrea (Curtain) is, for 98% of its run-time really quite excellent, however it doesn't quite stick the landing.

A young man (Tim Lueke) wakes up one night in his apartment having falling asleep in front of his TV. Just after noticing a jauntily themed creepy puppet show is playing he hears a knock on his door. Looking through the peephole he notices a man leaning forward with his back to him. He soon comes to realise that whatever movements he makes the man through the peephole makes them too, which causes him some enjoyment. However, this becomes short lived when the tables are turned...

This was mostly fantastic, everything was perfect for a good portion of this. Opening on a black title card and you already have the jaunty, yet slightly sinister old timey music playing. The sound effects throughout are great, the knock on the door crisp and loud, dialogue free due to the character being on his own, and even use of silence to increase the horror moments. The cinematography is also strong, especially the fisheye view of looking through the peephole, the stop motion like effects near the end were very freaky looking and I loved how the lighting plays with the shadows in the room. Nothing bad can even be said of Lueke, he was fantastically cast and it was easy to follow along with his emotions over the course of the three minutes forty short film.

As I said at the start of this review Peephole sadly doesn't stick the landing, and it really is sad as up to this point everything was amazing. If you've seen even a few short horrors in recent years I'm sure you can guess that a jump scare may be involved. A well placed one can be effective every now and again, yet sticking them at the end of a short film is so overused and so obvious that they lose all impact, leaving Peephole to end on a bum note. If you can look past the ending this is a great little short horror, going by this I would be interested to see Henrie-McCrea's future work as the directing is spot on. The film is on YouTube so it is worth a watch.


Monday, 2 August 2021

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

I usually like to stick these monthly news posts at the end of each month. This time around I am unable to do that, I've headed off on a weekend vacation to the seaside and when I suggested to my bestie that I take my laptop on the trip to carry on putting up blog posts she was none too pleased. To avoid her belligerent wrath I shall stick this up on 2nd August when I have returned. There won't be as many blog posts this week due to having to write a bunch of posts in advance a week or so back. Onto the news.

David Chuang's The Tag Along: Devil Fish was released in June by Bayview Entertainment. The confusing synopsis states 'The devil fish which manipulated by Juon-like ghost "a little girl in red dress" targets tiger-mans mother. Then, tiger-man tries excising his mother from the devil fish and a little girl in red dress'. This horror stars Vivian Hsu, Jen-Shuo Cheng and Hoe Shu-Wei Chang, check out the trailer below.

Paranormal thriller The Poltergeist Diaries is now available on Spectrum. Directed by József Gallai this stars András Korcsmáros, Kata Kuna, Péter Inoka and Eric Roberts and is about a man looking for his missing brother with the help of a documentary filmmaker. The film can be seen here, and the trailer is below.

Rise of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth has begun production. This is a reboot/re-imagining of the 17 year old 'micro-budget cult classic'. This is written and directed by Geno McGahee with filming currently underway with a view to release this come October. The synopsis is that a young writer has returned to his hometown where he discovers a long hidden dark secret (likely featuring scarecrows I would imagine. This is to star Eric Michalian (Killers Club), Lorrie Bacon (The Love Triangle), Brent Northup (Sickle, Scary Tales) and plenty of other actors

Deadlife's track North Inertia is available now on all platforms via independent retro synth label FiXT Neon. The track is described as 'ferocious...with gritty, industrial-like attitude, its steely atmosphere punctuated by powerful percussion and understated synth melodies that permeate the track with a haunting ambiance'. Deadlife have also released Tears of the Juvenile which is the second release leading up to God in the Machine, the album that releases on August 6th and can be pre-ordered here.

Gothic duo Abbey Death have released a new single in the form of Death is for the Living. The duo are made up of Valerie Abbey and Abbey Nex and on this single they are joined by guest vocalist Addam Robert Paul (TheDestructPrinciple). According to Valerie Abbey the song was created in response to "the news reporting lots of deaths as a way to grab our attention. It all grew so frustrating! To balance this, I started writing this brooding-abrasive yet chilly romanticized track to give a traditional dark intensity back to the meaning of death in a remote, stylistic statement." The track can be found on PROJEKT's Bandcamp page here.

Finally in this shorter news post Puzzle Box Horror have released issue #1 of Anna Byrne which is available for order at Horror Hub Marketplace. The story is by Chad Dahlstrom and Mary Farstrom with illustrator Felipe Kroll. This ongoing series is based on the short horror stories The Anna Byrne Chronicles that were first published on the Puzzle Box Horror website. In the comic we follow the titular Anna, who from the age of 7 became obsessed with the supernatural. Now grown up she finds herself mysteriously drawn to haunted locations. In issue #1 Anna heads to the haunted Heceta Head Lighthouse where she finds an unexpected partner as well as faces one of her darkest fears. The comic can be brought here.