Thursday, 28 July 2016

Observance (2015) - Horror Film Review


Observance is a low key Australian psychological thriller that mixes together intrigue, thrills and even horror into a melting pot of paranoia. As with all films lately I again went into this with absolutely no idea what it was going to be about. With a great set up I was determined this was the type of film I would enjoy, all the ingredients were there, I just hoped it would be cooked up right.

Lindsay Ferris stars as Parker; a P.I who has recently returned to work after the death of his only child. He is tasked with spying on a young woman and to help him with his task his mysterious employers have provided him with the dilapidated house opposite the street from hers. Things start off mundane enough, he takes photos of the woman, has her phone tapped, and keeps a detailed journal of her movements, reporting in with his boss via phone each day. As the week goes on more and more strange events start to happen to him (such as objects moving of their own accord, and having horrific nightmares) and he begins to wonder if there is a more sinister reason why he has been tasked with staying in the house...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Blair Witch (2016) - Horror Film News and Trailer


Usually I only cover horror news if I'm personally contacted about it, for Blair Witch though I am making a strong exception. Adam Wingard (V/H/S, You're Next) was known to be directing a horror called The Woods, but a few days ago it was fantastically revealed that this was a fake name and that the film he had directed was actually to be the third film in the Blair Witch series!

The Blair Witch Project was the first 'found footage' horror I ever saw, I still remember leaving the cinema in a state of dumb shock, a feat that with the exception of the first Paranormal Activity has never been repeated in the now stagnant genre. I have seen it a few times since and still enjoy watching it though it certainly loses some impact on repeated viewings.

The sequel; Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is perhaps my favourite horror film of all time, with an average score of 4.0/10 on IMDB you could say it should be a guilty pleasure but I'm unrepentant in my love for that master class of film making. Even the director Joe Berlinger detests what happened with that film, his directors commentary is full of anger at how his vision was ripped to shreds in the editing room. With a sublime score by Carter Burwell, a great soundtrack that introduced me to the likes of Marilyn Manson, Queens of the Stone Age, and Disturbed, as well as a plot that is heavily open to interpretation (with some great twists) Blair Witch 2 is stunning.

The trailer for the new film (included below) suggests this is a sequel to the first film in the series. It follow the brother of Heather Donahue; one of the trio of characters in part 1, he has gone to the woods with a search party of sorts to try and find out what happened to his sister there all those years ago. From the well edited trailer it seems him and his group encounter the same sort of horror that has been seen there before, though this time it seems to have far more action and a much higher budget. Even if there is no reference at all to the events of the second film I am locked in here. Blair Witch is due for release by Lionsgate Films on September 16th this year, so not long to wait. I so hope this is a great horror!


 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Harvesting (2015) - Horror Film Review


The Harvesting is an American horror that revolves around the Amish. As always I went into this with minimal knowledge of what it was going to be about. This movie reminded me quite a lot of the Children of the Corn series due to the plot revolving around an unseen evil that preys on peoples weakness out in the remote countryside. That is not a bad comparison to make as those types of films are few and far between.

In the prologue an angry young Amish man suddenly grabs an axe and murders most of his family before killing himself. We then follow a family from the city who decide to go on their summer holiday to the countryside. Jake (Chris Conner) and his wife Dinah (Elena Caruso) have been having marital issues and so hope a break with the kids (Steven and Michaela) will help them fix their problems.  However they have chosen a very bad location, the local Amish community seem outright hostile to the four, while the nearby woods seems to contain a powerful evil that from the very outset starts to covertly influence the families minds...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - Horror Film Review


This 2016 re-boot of the 80's stone cold classic has received more than it's fair share of negativity (that is made fun of in the film itself). It has been attacked on two angles; that of perceived misogynists who hate the fact the all male cast have been replaced with women. Then there are those that think this film is an insult to the memory of the original films, especially since the original cast tried for many, many years to get a sequel made and in the end were only able to get an ok video game created instead (reviewed here). Before seeing this I was kinda on the later side, but now I have witnessed Ghostbusters 2016 has my view been swayed?

I avoided all but the one trailer in the lead up to this film, as such I was clueless as to whether this was a complete re-boot or if it was set years after the original films in the same universe. As it turns out this is a new imagining. By a series of events four women; nerdy Erin (Kristen Wig), enthusiastic Abby (Melissa McCarthy), street smarts Patty (Leslie Jones), and 'zany' Jillian (Kate McKinnon) team up to become ghost hunters. It soon becomes apparent the huge rise in supernatural sightings is down to a man who wishes to unleash ghostly apocalypse on New York...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Autumn (2009) - Zombie Horror Film Review


Many many years I have put off watching Autumn; the film based on the tremendous zombie book of the same name, due to it being universally slated. Even David Moody himself (the author of said book) admits the film is hardly stellar, only going as far as to say 'it has its moments' when we talked on the subject once. Well finally I have seen the film, but is it as bad as expected?

A sudden unexplained virus sweeps the globe one day, within minutes the vast majority of the population have succumbed to a devastating and deadly illness. The survivors are few, one such group have gathered together in an old building and are universally lost and despondent. Michael (Dexter Fletcher), Emma (Lana Kamenov) and Carl (Dickon Tolson) decide to leave the confines of the city and head to the countryside where they think the risk of disease will be lower. But as the weeks roll on the deceased victims of the tragedy come back to a kind of un-life. Initially they are mere husks and operate without reason, but slowly and surely they begin to get more intelligent until the point where they perceive the still living with hate in their rotting eyes...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Perfect Husband (2014) - Horror Film Review


The Perfect Husband (also known as What Lies Within) is a psychological thriller from Italy that is soon to find a DVD and Blu-ray release courtesy of Artsploitation. As always going in I had little idea of what the movie would be about, or if it would turn out to be any good.

Viola (Gabriella Wright) and her husband Nicola (Bret Roberts) are going through a rough patch in their marriage after their baby was born stillborn. Nicola suggests a romantic weekend away at his Uncle's cabin in remote woodland as a means for the couple to reconnect, but things take a turn for the worse when jealousy, violence and madness are unleashed...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence (2016) - Horror Film Review


My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence is an anthology film comprised of (surprisingly enough) three separate short films. This is going to be a slightly different review in that I have previously seen all three of the films as stand alone shorts. Not only that but the first in the movie's trilogy; Satan's Coming For You I have previously blogged about, and so I wont go into much detail on that one.

The trilogy (roughly ten minutes, then two half hour ones) follows Alister (Dakota Bailey who also produced, wrote and directed) and his collection of despicable friends as they go about their messed up lives. In Satan's Coming For You him and his friend Bubba (Matt Marshall) see the Devil while on LSD and go on a killing spree in his name. The middle piece titled Nights of Depravity has Alistair help out his drug dealing friend Charlie, while the last film My Master Satan has him and Bubba reunited where they go on another acid trip and see Satan once again.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Larry (2014) by Adam Millard - Comedy Horror Book Review


Adam Millard is a regular guest author at the Leicester based UK Festival of Zombie Culture. In the past I have heard him read an excerpt from a zombie book of his, and he once offered to take a photo of me with David Moody (author of the Autumn and Hater series), yet I had never actually read any of his books. Last year I remedied that and brought one of his books to try; Larry, and am glad to say I am likely to read more of his books going forward.

In the 1970's Larry 'Pigface' Travers stalked Camp Diamond Creek killing no end of teens there, that is until one day in 1978 when the final girl finally stopped him. Now in 2014 Travers decides to once again head to the camp site and start up his killings again, but this time he is certainly not as young as he used to be...

Saturday, 9 July 2016

News Letter for July 2016 - Round up of the Latest Horror News

I have had to do a lot of overtime in my bill paying job lately and so have not been able to blog as much as I would have liked to. Over the last few weeks I have received a load of emails about various things I had blogged about before, not enough for them to get their own separate posts but enough that I could jam them all together in a news letter type thing.

So first up there is a new trailer for the upcoming horror Lights Out that is out at UK cinemas on August 19th. This is based on the short film of the same name and concerns an evil spirit who only has power in the dark. It is from producer James Wan (The Conjuring) and directed by David F. Sandberg (who directed the original short). I didn't think the first trailer was that good, it made it seem like the whole film would just be people flicking light switches on and off. This new trailer is a lot better, with some quite inventive moments that seemed creepy. I really hope the film delivers on the promise the short showed.



Next up is one I am quite looking forward to; The Unkindness of Ravens which last December became the most funded UK horror on Kickstarter ever. This film comes from Lawrie Brewster, the maker of the memorable gothic chiller Lord of Tears. This new film follows Andrew; a homeless veteren suffering from PTSD. He heads to a retreat in the remote Scottish Highlands where he hopes to get better, but rather than help he finds all sorts of horror. Brewster describes the film as "...an unsettling, visceral commentary on the mental turmoil that war leaves in its wake. It's brutal, it's relentless but it's also thought-provoking." The Unkindness of Ravens world premiere is going to be at London's FrightFest (that runs from 25th to 29th August).



Another world premiere at FrightFest this year is the next film from Tricia Lee (Clean Break, Silent Retreat) which is called Blood Hunters (previously known as One Drop). Blood Hunters is a character driven piece about a single mother who wakes at a medical facility to find everyone dead, and that she is mysteriously nine months pregnant. Lee's previous films had some great bits in them so am optimistic this could be good.



Finally there is an update about YouTube show Scream Queen Stream. This show that takes place every Friday at 11:00 AM features horror actresses Jessica Cameron (All Through the House) and Heather Dorff (Truth or Dare) and has lots of interviews with horror friends as well as drinking games, challenges and more. There has been a new segment created called Gender Reversal Parody which aims to recreate iconic scream queen scenes but with genders switched. An example of a Psycho parody has been released, with some impressive mimicking of the classic Hitchcock camera editing.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) - Sci-fi Film Review


When Independence Day came out in the mid nineties everyone was blown away by the spectacle on offer, it ushered in the age of world wide apocalyptic films. It was cheesy as hell and very jingoistic but still pretty good dumb fun. Now in 2016 can Independence Day: Resurgence reach the same heights?

Resurgence takes place twenty years after the end of the first film, during that time humans have reverse engineered alien technology which has brought with it a new golden age where the whole world are united as one (and also seemingly used the technology to perfectly recreate all the decimated cities). However now a new threat has arrived, answering a distress signal from the ruined fleet, this new one is a mothership 3,000 miles wide and one which swiftly and effortlessly wipes out Earth's new defences. With the ship committed to finishing what the advance party of twenty years back could not do is it finally curtains for humanity?

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Witching Season Episode 3: Not Alone (2016) - Short Horror Film Review


Not Alone is the latest episode in The Witching Season, which as I have mentioned before is a web based anthology show of horror shorts that all take place around Halloween. What I love about the show is that every episode is based around a different sub genre of horror. With Killer on the Loose we had a slasher, with Princess we had a creepy doll piece, and now with the third episode we get one involving aliens.

A man is woken up in the middle of the night and is shocked to see a strange slender creature by his bedroom door. He attacks this figure only to find out his mind was just playing tricks on him and there was nothing there, so he decides to head back to sleep...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Bitungkal (2016) - Short Horror Film Review


Brunei's premiere horror film creator Abdul Zainidi (Ostrich Supernatural Game, Walking Bangkai, Jentingkai) is back with another short horror he has created; Bitungkal. Like Jentingkai before it this is another film that uses a being from a Brunei children's ghost story as the basis for the evil. The film was written, directed, and shot by Zainidi.

This starts off with a message on screen stating that children should be wary of walking alone in the jungle, and even more wary of accepting gifts from strangers as they could fall victim to the supernatural Bitungkal. We then follow one such child (played by Fadzlie Izzul Iman) who indeed does stumble across a strange object whilst out walking and decides to take it home with disastrous consequences...

Whatever you may think of the quality of Zainidi's films it is hard to argue that he doesn't squeeze a lot out of his short run times. In just over five minutes we get a children's fable perfectly displayed. This short plays out very similarly to Jentingkai and feels like a companion piece to that one. Like that there is no dialogue here at all, aside from the creepy whisperings of the monster, instead there is a song in French that sounds like a bizarre nursery rhyme. The monster itself is a cloaked being who due to some decent editing only appears on screen for all of about five seconds which is effective as it leaves a lot to the imagination.

If I had any complaints it would be that it does feel very similar to one of his previous films, plus when the boy of the short has a seizure at one point I couldn't help but find it funny rather than scary. Zainidi never makes dull films though and this is no exception, Brunei as always looks stunning, the location alone makes this feel fresh, makes for an enjoyable enough five minutes.

SCORE:

Friday, 1 July 2016

Echoes of the Passed - Short Horror Film News


UK based Scott Lyus who directed the short horrors Order of the Ram (cult in the wood) and Silently Within Your Shadow  (possessed ventriloquist's doll) has announced his next project which is to be a short horror/thriller titled Echoes of the Passed.

This time around it is a haunted house film, interestingly it sounds like the short takes place just before a team, led by an old professor investigate a creepy old house that has a terrible past (rather than during), but with the horror encountered much sooner than anticipated. It will be good to see if terror is able to be created by having a lead up to a paranormal investigation rather than actually witnessing it. Often what is implied can be far more scary than anything shown so if there is some decent build up of the mystique of the location it may well succeed on that front.

The screenplay for Echoes of the Passed is by Tony Sands, and will be produced and directed by Scott Lyus. It is to star Sophie Tergeist (Silently Within Your Shadow) as Liz and Paul Dewdney as the Professor. There is currently an Indiegogo campaign running to get funds to make the short film, it is hoping to raise £2,500 and currently has raised £1,725. With twenty four days left to go on the campaign it looks like it may well be successful. If this sounds like something you would like to back then check out the Indiegogo page (here) where there is more information and a list of perks you could get. Check out the campaign video below if you so wish...