Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lab Rats - Horror Film News (also 6 Shooter Short Horror Film)

David 'dwyz' Wyman (who worked on British zombie flick Zombiehood and short horror The Chateau) has a new short film in the works that he is going to be directing, Lab Rats; a film that is to feature "...revolting mutations, oozing, melting faces and bodies literally exploding".

Eco-warrior Kat and her friends get a tip off that bio-chemistry company Ring-Amnion are secretly conducting experiments on animals despite publicly denying this. Kat decides to break into a lab owned by the company to see if the claims they received are true. Judging by the quote in my previous paragraph I am assuming that it is true and that horrific experiments are being performed.

Producer Lauren Parker states that they hope to use mainly practical effects with VFX used to make the practical effects look even better. They are using the same SFX and VFX crew that worked on 6 Shooter; a short horror with a budget of just £70 that I had the pleasure of watching earlier about worms attacking a bunch of young adults after a drinking game goes bad. In fact check out 6 Shooter below...

Now there is a Kickstarter campaign currently going for Lab Rats, they need to raise £4,000 and currently have £1,349 with 14 days left to go. If you fancy donating to what sounds like a fun film then head over to the Kickstarter page here. And if your still not sure then check out the SFX video below where you get to see an ear dissolve in awesome fashion...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Birch Bog Forest - Horror Film News

The Found Footage genre just never seems to die, still years after it reached it's zenith the titles keep on coming out. Every once in a while a good one comes about, maybe Birch Bog Forest from Clever Girl Entertainment could be one of those?

The film will take place in the forests of New Hampshire, USA. A couple discover reports of a sudden rise of missing hitchhikers in Birch Bog Forest, the boyfriend who is a freelance videographer decides to head to the forest to try and find out what is causing the spate of disappearances. Could it be due to a creature in Indian mythology named the Crygar who is said to have once hunted a native Indian tribe to extinction?

Birch Bog Forest has currently had a Indie GoGo campaign launched in the hopes to get the funding needed for the film to go ahead. Campaign manager Alexander Azzi is hoping to raise $10,000, at the moment $66 has been raised but with 57 days left to go it is very early days. If you fancy donating to the campaign then head to their page here.

Check out their Crowdfunding video below where Alexander speaks of his aim for the film including the goal to have no CGI effects at all, and to make a film that will 'screw with your mind'. As always I wish them all the best, there can't be too many horrors in the world and while the Found Footage genre is often rotten this could have potential.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Necromentia (2009) - Horror Film Review

Necromentia is a strange beast of a film, also an interesting film, but good? I'm not so sure of that. It is Cliver Barker in nature dealing as it does with flawed people and a vision of Hell.

The film is clever in that it has three interconnected stories that play out in reverse. Starting off a grieving man; Hagen is unable to get over his lovers death. He keeps her body preserved as best as he can in the hope that she will come back to life. He is kidnapped by a thug named Travis who tells Hagen he can send him to Hell where he will be able to find his departed lover. The next tale is set a year or so previously and explains how Travis came to be on the hunt for Hagen due to a deal made with a demon named Morbius. The final story explores just why Morbius wanted Hagen in Hell.

As Necromentia progresses you are forced to reevaluate your preconceptions of characters, travelling back in time for each new story is an interesting move and one that would make rewatching the film be worthwhile (not that I think I ever would). Travis for instance first appears as a nasty bad guy while showing his back story puts him in a more sympathetic light (almost). The same goes for Hagen and Morbius who both are shown in a different light. Just proves you should not be so judgemental, even as a viewer of a film!

Being a story about Hell it is impossible to avoid comparisons between Hellraiser and these films are very close in tone. To get to Hell requires blood, in Necromentia's case sigils must be carved into flesh but the idea is the same. A variety of different demons are shown here, much like the Cenobites each looks different. There is a fat man wearing a pig mask with tubes coming out of every orifice; that's Mr Piggy (reminded me a lot of Pigsy from the videogame Manhunt), Morbius who is grey all over and has black pits for eyes, a gas mask wearing, distorted voice, wheel chair bound child, and finally a monster who just looks like Nemesis from Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The monster designs are all quality and really makes for a solid looking film.

Where Necromentia falls down though is the sets used. It is very minimal with not many locations used, and the ones that are used while intricately detailed are also very small and claustophobic. Attention to detail is fantastic but when Hell itself consists of a single dark maintenance tunnel I did feel a bit short changed. A lot of the special effects are physical rather than CGI which was a decent touch. There is plenty of violence and gore, usually in tortuous scenes. Travis for example is hired by people to cause them pain. There is one long uncomfortable scene of him wearing a gimp mask slicing up a young woman, he even near severs a finger off of her. The scene ends with him untying the woman who then proceeds to pay him for his actions. What sort of place exists where cutting off someones finger is not seen as a bad thing?! Real freaking weird if you ask me.

None of the characters seem out of place, it almost seems like the world they inhabit is Hell itself and the maintenance tunnel Hell is just another facet of it. A man who tortures people for a living, a mentally disabled boy who is influenced to kill by a singing dancing pig man, a mourning man who performs necrophilia on his dead lover; it certainly rings of Hell to me.

With decent special effects, an interesting and cleverly designed plot and wonderfully created locations Necromentia is a lot better than I expected it to be. However the slim sets, over indulgence of gory violence and a general feeling of hopelessness mean while a good film it is not a fantastic one.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

It Follows (2014) - Horror Film Review

It Follows is a psychological horror that carries an unremittingly bleak vibe from the start up to the very end, certainly not a feel good film, something I seem to crave nowadays. It reminded me quite a bit of The Ring which is not a bad thing.

Jay (Maika Monroe) is a typical 19 year old girl whose life is turned upside down after an innocent sexual encounter. After the act her lover knocks her out and she awakens tied to a wheelchair in a deserted building where she is told that a curse has been passed onto her. a being is hunting her, something which can take on the form of anyone and exists only to kill. No matter where Jay goes, no matter what she does it is always going to be walking straight towards her, and when it finds her she will die, the only escape is to pass on the curse through sex. Now stalked wherever she goes Jay with the help of her friends must find a way to stop the terror.

It Follows is almost art house in its style and execution. There are lots of long long shots of nothing and inconsequential focus on non relevant items. The soundtrack is discordant, screeching and stark. The music sounds like it is from 1970's horror and ramps up the tension and looming threat, amplifying the fear rather than being separate. This bleak outlook is resonated in the locations with many dilapidated houses, buildings and wide lonely beaches, and even reflected in the characters themselves with Jay slowly going insane with the knowledge there is no escape, and her friends who are at a total loss on how to help her in any meaningful way.

If The Terminator was a horror rather than a sci-fi action film then this could easily be that film. The being only walks, never runs, never speaks and is invisible to all but the victim (and any people previously cursed). It can appear as a friend, a family member, a random stranger but is usually portrayed as what I assume to be previous victims with beaten half naked females, gaunt men, and the one appearance of a screaming pale faced child. A trick used is to have the being in the background slowly making it's way towards the scene playing out in focus at the forefront, this is always effective and starts to make you really question if it is the evil or just some random human going about their business. In a decent move that I have to give It Follows credit for the horror is confined for the most part to this presence, there was only two or three jump scares in the whole film. No matter what form the evil takes it is always threatening.

It can be seen as a cautionary tale about casual sex, about the danger of STDs, or even the fear of unwanted pregnancy, but it felt to me more the exploration of mankind's mortality. You are getting closer to death with every passing second and nothing you can do can change that. Using sex as a means to feel, to stop being so numb just doesn't work, even with that done you just end up still so hollow, safe with the knowledge that a temporary reprieve is all you have attained. When it comes down to it acceptance is the only way to deal with the negative thoughts and emotions that come with being alive. You have to face the evil straight on and just try and get on with your life as best as you can rather than be constantly running.

It is not all fantastic though, while I laud the inventive 'monster' of the piece it would be nice to know more of it's powers, while it is said to only walk it seems to teleport off camera getting to distant locations in a short amount of time, at other points when it is close to Jay (within short walking distance) it just doesn't appear. In one scene it is shown to be standing on the roof of Jay's house; just how did it even get up there? With decent pacing and a near final scene at a swimming pool that manages to not fall into the trap of being over the top the film still manages to shine and again shows that off screen deaths need not be a bad thing when imagination comes to town.

With no explanation, no resolution and no joy for Jay this film happily stands on it's own, to explain would be to ruin the magic and the terror. While I won't be kept up at night over this it makes a change to watch something that really makes you think and to imprint your own impressions onto events. A real downer, but an entertaining one.


Monday, 23 February 2015

Open Water (2003) - Horror Film Review

The problem with most horror is that it is not really 'feel good' stuff to watch. I decided to watch Open Water which turns out isn't really horror and is more of a survival/disaster film but also was not 'feel good'.

Daniel (Daniel Travis) and his girlfriend Susan (Blanchard Ryan) head to the Caribbean on holiday to do some scuba diving. They head out to the middle of the ocean with a scuba group. Due to an incorrect head count the couple are accidentally left behind, they come to the surface to find the boat gone and their troubles only go down hill from there.

The basic plot for Open Water is actually based on a real life event that took place in Australia. The reason for being abandoned and a bit later on in the film use what actually happened as reference points. I don't know why but I figured there would be more of a horror slant to this. The quote on the front of the DVD box reads "Blair Witch meets Jaws' which made me figure some sort of supernatural type goings on. Meanwhile the blurb on the back of the box makes it seem like the two are at the mercy of nefarious people who are purposely playing with them. The truth is far more mundane.

The problem with having a film mostly shot in the middle of the ocean is that there is not a lot to look at. Even at a 77 minute run time I was done with it all ages before the end credits roll. It doesn't help that due to not actually being able to leave the actors all alone the shots used are all quite close up and you never really get the impression there is not a boat a few metres out of shot (which there would have been for the actors safety). The part of the sea they are in is quite busy so there always seems to be boats just out of reach and planes flying over to keep making the characters have hope.

Once the couple find themselves stranded the film seems to loose steam. Lots of things happen to the hapless duo to keep things interesting but it seems like a check list of problems is being crossed off. Jellyfish sting them, they get attacked by sharks, they fall asleep and drift off from each other, they argue with each other but these events all unnaturally flow together. You know things are not great when a mid film highlight is a character puking up.

Lots annoyed me about Open Water. Susan doesn't realise sea water is not a wise thing to drink for one; really? That completely baffled me and seems like it was put in as the script writer thought the audience would be imbeciles and so wouldn't understand why the two were dehydrated with all the water around. A lot of the scenes have something happening underwater and so one of the characters would have to wet their goggles, put them on, swim down, see the problem and come back up to explain to the other character. That got tiring fast and must have happened at least seven or eight times. On the subject of pointless things early on there is an aborted sex scene which I am certain was just put there to show Ryan's flesh off for some lazy titillation, this was just not needed,

The plot is unavoidably thin, it irritated me that no one would realise the two were missing but I guess as that was the part of Open Water that was based on true events it is hard to complain about. If I was given the film and asked to make a more streamlined version then I reckon I could easily cut it down to 10 minutes. The camera quality was also not the best, a lot of it, especially the land based sequences look like they were filmed on hand cameras, at least the special effects were all real and not CGI based.

When it comes down to it, no matter how awful being in that situation would be in real life, watching two annoying people floating around being miserable for an hour does not make for great entertainment. In the end it all seemed just a bit pointless.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Generation of Z: Apocalypse (2015) - Zombie Interactive Theatre Experience News

After sell out shows in New Zealand and at the Edinburgh Fringe The Generation of Z: Apocalypse is heading to London. Tickets go on sale for this on Friday 20th February but I have been provided with a code that will allow you to buy tickets for this event at a special price tomorrow (Thursday 19th February). More on that later.

The storyline for the show is that in 2015 zombie apocalypse has swept London in the form of the Z virus. With society collapsing humanity is in for a fight. The show is immersive and puts the audience into the story, Your choices can effect the shows narrative and outcome.

The show is to take place in a purpose built venue in Whitechapel and spans over a 25,000 square foot bunker. It is described as "a thrilling 75 minutes of high velocity storytelling that will terrify even the hardiest of thrill seekers" and is not suitable for those under the age of 16 as it features shock, tension, and realistic depictions of gore and violence.

To get early tickets for this cool sounding event head on other to and enter the code EXTINCTIONISNOW tomorrow (Thursday 19th). You are also able to get the £25 preview rate on standard tickets and early bird access tickets on Thursday also. Performances start on 4th April and run till 5th July.

If your still unsure then check out the frankly awesome trailer below...


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Silently Within Your Shadow (2015) - Horror Film News

Scott Lyus (the director of short horror Order of the Ram) has another film he is currently working on. It is another short horror but this time about a ventriloquist's dummy and has a big name attached to the project. Personally puppets for some reason I find real freaky.

Silently Within Your Shadow is described as "a dark, twisted love story that explores the idea of jealousy; and the struggle between choosing passion for art or romantic love". I am guessing that Hugo; the dummy of Lucette does a Chucky (from Child's Play) and becomes murderous once it looks like his owner is going to abandon her job for a love interest.

Lucette is played by Sophie Tergeist, but the better news is that legendary horror actor Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects, Exit Humanity) is to be the voice of Hugo! This short film has a Kickstarter campaign to get the funding needed to be created. It currently has £320 of its £6,000 goal and has 34 days left to go. If your interested in funding this, or to find out more the Kickstarter is here.

Check out the concept trailer below...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Bodom (2014) - Horror Film Review

Bodom is Hungary's first ever feature length found footage film and also the first Hungarian film I have ever reviewed. Here at The Rotting Zombie HQ found footage don't always get a warm welcome as it seems a genre bereft of any new ideas.

In 1960 at Lake Bodom in Finland four youngsters camping there were attacked in the middle of the night with only one survivor. The attacker has never been caught. In 2009 two students; Annikki and Pietari head to the lake to do a thesis about the strange murders but their trip ends with horrific consequences.

Bodom is set out like a documentary rather than just a collection of pieced together camera work. This actually made a decent change to the usual formula. Picture The Blair Witch Project but with later interviews with the friends and family of the missing people inter cut. This works in not only splitting up the shaky cam footage that can often get tiring but also works in that there is a legitimate reason for the footage to be around. There is nothing worse than a found footage film where the found footage of the piece makes no sense for existing neatly edited together. Also appreciated was the ending in which the documentary attempts to explain the events and reveals some decent information. Characters in the interviews display foreshadowing of events to come that really help create a sense of mystery.

Now it is hard to judge the acting ability as it is not in English but to me it seemed to be good, it certainly never seemed like these were fake characters. The subtitles for the most part are decent, a few slight errors (such as the decision to subtitle sound effects at some points). The majority of the film has just the two characters of Annikki and her acquaintance Pietari who really do not seem to like each other even before anything sinister happens. Any conversation they have seems to dissolve into arguments and your left wondering why they even decided to go out to remote Lake Bodom together, especially when it appears that there may be a reason from their past why they really should not be together. These arguments make them seem more real.

At 65 minutes in length Bodom does not have time to get boring or stale. The usual format for these things takes place with around the first 45 minutes nothing sinister really happening at all. There is a slow build to the terror which suddenly occurs. The plot and reasoning behind what happens is drip fed and is never fully explained and on some levels makes no sense but I felt leaving questions behind made for a more atmospheric story regardless. For once it seems that the reason for the madness may not be supernatural in origin that I felt was a good decision. This is certainly from the 'people lost in woods' side of found footage and not the 'demonic possession in rich peoples house' type. The flip side to this build up is that there isn't really enough time for the pure horror part of the film to shine in full and some plot elements seem a bit tacked on.

I liked the documentary format of the film, I liked the overall plot and the playing with audience expectations. Bodom looks crisp when it needs to, looks rough when it needs to be (I love how an explanation for abrupt camera cuts is given), and the fact that the Bodom murder from 1960 the students are researching actually happened in real life was a nice touch. This film is not going to keep you up at night with fear, nor can it be said to be completely original (lots of shaky cam and night vision for instance) but it is competent and enjoyable regardless and so is worth a watch.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Call of the Dead (2011) - Zombie Map Discussion

With the Call of Duty map packs once again going on sale I saw an opportunity to pick up one of the remaining zombie maps I don't own for Call of Duty: Black Ops. I got five maps in total, four normal and one zombie map, it was only the zombie map Call of the Dead that I was interested in.

In Call of the Dead you play as one of four real life actors; Danny Trejo (Rise of the Zombies), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead). It takes place on a remote Siberian island where the four are filming a zombie flick with George Romero directing. However the fake scene is invaded by real life zombies who attack and kill Romero before anyone realises what is happening.

Call of the Dead is different to other zombie maps in that you have the persistent threat of the George Romero zombie. He is a giant and carries with him a large stage light that is electrified, he will slowly walk towards you where ever you go. Should you make the error of attacking him he will change into a more zombie like monster and charge after you, eventually calming down after a set time has passed.

I realise I am going into far too much detail for what is just one map so will wrap things up. The level is split into three sections. The middle part where you start is a small island with water on one side, the longer you stay in the ice cold water the more you start to freeze which results in your screen being obscured with ice. In a cool touch (literally cool) zombies can turn into blocks of ice should they spend too much time in the sea. The left part of the level features a huge tanker locked into the ice. From the engine room of here the power can be turned on, though I admit I have no idea what this does. The right side of the level features a giant lighthouse, the top of it features a dead end as a warning.

As always the game consists of rounds, each round featuring more zombies, and more health for them. There are windows to keep boarded up, weapons avaliable to purchase with points you get for undead slaying, and additional doors and walkways to open up. You play until you die, there is no end.

While even the reduced price of £8.23 is an extortionate amount for someone only interested in 1/5 of the maps I do feel Call of the Dead is a solid and well designed level and imagine I will have lots of fun with it in the future.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Swords of Insurgency (2015) - Horror Web Series News and Trailer

Swords of Insurgency is a post apocalyptic web series filmed in Virginia that has just had it's first official trailer out. Details on this seem pretty scarce but from the trailer it looks like its about a woman who manages to escape from a brutal high security prison into a world where ninjas, cowboys and bandits all fight each other with samurai swords, mallets and other types of deadly weaponry. Something to do with rebels fighting a harsh controlling regime according to the website.

It looks the part with some sharp images and interesting use of camera angles, while it also seems to have plenty of blood even if it did look like it was mostly computer generated. May well be one to watch out for. Check out the trailer below..