Tag Archives: Horror film

Review: Society

One From the Vaults

Society DVD 001When this film appeared in the 80s I had thought it was going to be a normal sort of horror film and for most of the film it certainly seems that way but then this film turns into an over the top comedy about the parasitic nature of the ruling class in society with one of the sickest most depraved endings in a film that isn’t an experimental art house feature.

The film opens to the tune of Eton boating song, a song that really stinks of upper class privilege here in UK and is sure to set the teeth of any socialist on edge. Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) is a typical high school jock in Beverley Hills with a stinking rich family who seem to only tolerate his existence. The jocks aren’t the bullies at his school: instead it’s the filthy rich kids who run the school but even though he’s rich Billy just isn’t “one of them.”

Bill becomes aware that something strange may be going on when his sister’s ex-boyfriend David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) plays him a tape-recording that he made of his family taking about her coming out party. This is the tradition in the European upper classes of parties to present the available breeding stock of the next generation to the rest of society. What is on the tape is extremely perverse with hints of free for all sexual shenanigans that certainly seem to include incest. Bill’s anger at Blanchard for making the tape rapidly gets turned into disgust and anger towards his family but leaves the tape with his.

While Bill would rather keep away from the rich brats his nagging girlfriend Shauna (Heidi Kozak) wants to get invited to their party so Bill has to do some kissing up to the obnoxious Tad Ferguson (Ben Meyerson). He is getting even more suspicious of them but still can’t help getting turned-on by Clarisa (Devin DeVasquez) who openly flirts with him in front of Shauna. At the party Bill has a run-in with Ferguson but leaves with Clarisa. After having sex with Clarisa he wakes and is shocked to see her legs twisted into an impossible posture but she just laughs at him. Earlier he thought had seen an equally impossible posture by his sister when she was showering

Blanchard turns up dead and this makes Bill even more paranoid but no-one takes him seriously since the only person who would is now dead but his best friend Milo (Evan Richards) agrees to go along with him for now. They go to see Blanchard’s body before the funeral and Bill accidentally pokes a hole the face, revealing it to be fake. This might be justified but is another sign of something strange going on.

Bill gets a call from Petrie (Brian Bremer), the rich brat competing against Bill for class president. He hints at being able confirm Bill’s suspicions and agrees to meet him. When Bill gets there he finds Petrie’s car off the road as if he has crashed and Petrie is dead with his throat slit.

When he tries reporting it to the police the body is gone by the time they get there, as is the car and the police have more interest in arresting Bill than investigating Petrie’s death. Next day Bill tries telling the whole school about his suspicions and Petrie’s death but his passionate rant sounds even crazier when Petrie himself appears, apologising for running late. Bill starts doubting his sanity but Milo had followed him to his meeting with Petrie and saw some very strange coming and going that confirm Bill’s story.

Bill goes home and the rich and powerful are all there. Bill start his ranting again but he gets seized by two paramedics and drugged by his psychiatrist. He gets taken to the local hospital and Milo follows. Milo tries asking for Bill at the reception desk only to be told that he’s dead. Bill wakes up in a hospital bed and leaves, meeting Milo outside who tries to convince Bill of how dangerous this all seems.

Bill knows he’s being set-up but returns home. This is when the deep weirdness starts and this is all a spoiler from here so if you haven’t seen it lets just call it body horror with some really sticky looking 80s special effects from Screaming Mad George .

All the rich are really hiding in dark waiting to catch Bill. The rich are all a disgusting separate parasitic species and they consume poor humans in a process they call the Shunt. They all get naked and rub each other in some jelly that makes their flesh plastic and malleable and they do this to their victim too which the merge with bodies melting together and they engage in all sorts of perverted sexual coupling too. It turns out Blanchard is not dead but is their first victim so Bill has to watch them consuming and absorbing him.

Clarisa manages to get Bill free and he escapes only to see his family having their own twisted perversions in their bedroom. This includes seeing his mother walking around with his dad’s arms for legs and his sister coming out of her vagina; meanwhile Dad has his face coming out of his arse and makes fart noises as Bill runs off.

Bill gets caught again and dragged down to the disgusting orgy. He challenges Ferguson to a fight over Clarissa which the parasites think sounds hilarious and to be fair Ferguson smacks the shit of Bill. Bill pulls out one desperate move, shoving his arm right up Ferguson’s arse and pulling him completely inside out. He then escapes with Clarissa and Milo while the parasites seemed unmoved by the death of one of their own.

There’s an obvious element of social satire in the set-up but to honest I don’t think a film that goes so over the top is making any deep social commentary. The rich are a filthy inbred amoral protean mass and they have to steal anything original and special from real humans and that is exactly how the film portrays them.

The acting is very variable in this story with poor Billy Warlock a bit overstretched but he is better in the scenes near the end. The special effects are just what you’d expect from an icky 80s horror film. The film does drag on a bit before it gets to big climax. There’s not much gore in this film but much more fleshy and slimy fluids. The delightfully depraved imagination that went into recreating The Shunt is really what make this film stand out as a must see but it’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Rating 7.0/10

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , , ,

October Horror Halloween

Horror Journal

The theme is Halloween night and the celebrations, dressing up in costumes, going trick or treating, watching scary films and telling spooky stories.

Satan’s Little Helper

This low budget thriller has a dark sense of humour. It’s set in a town on Bell Island which only has small police force so really isn’t able to cope when serial killer comes to the island. A young boy  Dougie Whooly (Alexander Brickel) is obsessed with an electronic game called Satan’s Little Helper is really excited about Halloween and his mother Merrill (Amanda Plummer) has made him a costume just like the character in the game. His older sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick) is coming back to celebrate Halloween with him. Young Dougie seems to have problem with the difference between reality and fantasy that might be normal in a younger child but he look about 8 or 9. He thinks Satan is real and just like the character in the game but later Dougie thinks real murders are part of a game.

When Jenna brings home Alex (Stephen Graham), a boyfriend from college, Dougie is jealous and storms off in a huff to look for Satan. He spots a figure in an impressive devil mask putting dead body out on porch seat and thinks it is just an impressively realistic prop. He follows the Satan man (Joshua Annex) and sees him laying out another real body in a garden but still thinks it is another prop.

Satan man is very happy to go along with Dougie being Satan’s Little Helper when they boy invites him back to his house. Satan man slaughters his way through the locals while Dougie thinks it’s all just a game and his family think the man in the mask is really Alex. When they realise the truth they have to battle to escape the silent unknown killer.


Eight year old Michael Myers stabs his older sister to death on Halloween night. Sixteen years later Michael escapes the secure psychiatric hospital where he had been kept and returns to his home town of Haddonfield to kill several teenagers and terrorise Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Michael’s psychiatrist Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is only person who seems to recognise how dangerous Michael is and he tries to alert to local police but they seem helpless or hopeless and Laurie has to battle Michael for her life until Loomis arrives.

I like that they don’t try to explain Michael at all – he is just  an evil malevolent force that can’t be killed. The isn’t very much gore in this film that inspired so many violent slasher films but there is plenty of suspense.  

Trick ‘r Treat

I loved this anthology horror film set on Halloween night from the first time I saw it and I’m surprised that it seems to have treated so poorly by the company that produced it. It celebrates everything that the day is about which is not just one thing

There are four stories in this film, all blended together so that characters and events from one are seen during other stories.. Through them all is little Sam Hain (Quinn Lord)  a round-head kid with a simple creepy mask made of sackcloth who is guardian who is the spirit of Halloween.

Sam is brutal when protecting Halloween traditions when they are disrespected  but he’s not the only one since there’s a serial killer living in town and he just loves Halloween. There’s as grumpy old loner who hates people and especially Halloween trick or treaters. There are kids out for good time telling  creepy stories and trying to scare each other and of course there’s the group of college girls out hunting for boys to take to a party later. I don’t really want to give to much away but the film has a vampire, werewolves and  the dead coming back to tear the living apart

This is just a fantastic film and I’m glad to hear that it is getting a sequel so maybe word of mouth is ensuring that this film gets the audience it deserves..




Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , ,

October Horror Day 7

Horror Journal

The theme for tonight is adaptations of the stories of Clive Barker. I’m a big fan of his writing and especially the short story collections called the Books of Blood with its strange mixture of supernatural tales, some comic, some gruesome and others both gruesome and comic

Midnight Meat Train

This story is definitely one of the gruesome tales and this adaptation has gallons of the fake red stuff both physically and unfortunately CGI The story is fleshed out quite a bit from the short story, giving its protagonist Leon (Bradley Cooper) a job, a fiancé and some friends.

Leon is a struggling photographer who gets told by an art dealer that his work isn’t quite gritty enough and he‘s told to get deeper and stay longer when trying to capture the dark heart of city life. He photographs a bunch of thug who are about to rape a young woman in the subway and frightens of the attackers. The woman gets on a train and is murdered by Mahagony (Vinnie Jones) a silent killer who hunts for his prey on the late night trains. His weapon of choice is a huge meat tenderiser

Next day in the newspaper Leon reads that the woman has gone missing and tries informing the police who don’t seem interested his evidence. Leon seems constantly drawn to subway and to Mahogany and starts following the man and eventually witnesses him in the act of butchering another passenger. And that is literal as he prepares the bodies for consumption and hangs them on meat hook ready for consumption by something strange and bestial hidden down a disused art of the subway.

This film really revels in the gore and there’s a lot of it sloshing around when Mahogany butchers people with CGI eye flying at the screen from Ted Raimi’s head and somehow a hammer manages to take someone’s head clean off. This is the main point of the film and the plot that gets the characters involved was passable but wasn’t very convincing and there was only hint of an explanation of who the C.H.U.D.s were and why Mahogany fed them.

Book of Blood

This low-budget adaptation looks like it was filmed around my home city of Glasgow in the area of Glasgow University. The story is expanded a bit from the original and is framed inside an adaptation of the related story On Jerusalem Street. It works well and this film is kind of growing on me. It has a slow build to really neat climax that succeeds creating the tone of the Clive Barker story.

Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward) is some sort of academic working in the woo woo field of ghosts and has written books al about it but has never found verifiable evidence of the paranormal making all her study nothing more than a collection of strange anecdotes. She leases a house that has a grisly reputation thank to at least two nasty deaths apparently at the hands of ghosts who had written “Don’t mock us,” on the wall of the attic room. The earlier dead the was a fake medium called Tollington (Doug Bradley) and then there was the girl who dabbled in seances with her friends and get her face torn off for her offence.

One of her students is Simon MacNeal (Jonas Armstrong) who was said to have psychic powers as child. She wants him to spend time in attic room to see if they can get verifiable contact with the spirits. She believes Simon is the real thing but her assistant Reg Fuller (Paul Blair) never trusts him and is jealous that Mary is attracted to Simon.

It turns out that Simon is a fake but by the time Mary finds that out Simon is experiencing the ghosts for real and he can’t get Mary and Reg to believe him. He tries to contact them one more time and this time they make their presence felt. The house is an intersection between a highway of the dead and the living world and the dead are angry at the fraudsters that stop people listening to their stories. They decide to carve their stories in Simon’s skin so that Mary can translate them and put them into her books.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 8, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , , , , ,

October Horror Day 3

Horror Journal


I’ve only got time for a double bill tonight so I decided on a little vampire special with two very different modern takes on vampires bother released in 1987. They do share another important theme and that is family but their tone is very different.

Near Dark

This film is a dark gritty take on vampires from Kathyrn Bigelow and there’s no glamour and not much magic about this itinerant “family” of bloodsuckers. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a country boy who meets a young woman called Mae (Jenny Wright) and they get talking but as they talk through the night Mae gets worried about getting home before sunrise. Caleb doesn’t take her concerns seriously and tries to get Mae to give him a kiss. Mae agrees and then bites him on the neck before running off down the road. Caleb is confused and feeling a bit strange. He’s been turned into vampire and he walks across a dusty field in the morning sun he starts burning badly. Mae is part of a small gang of vampires and they drive up in camper van and bundle Caleb inside. The plan is to kill him to stop him describing them to the authorities and Severen (Bill Paxton) is ready to that right away but Mae pleads for his life. Their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) agrees to give Caleb a week to adjust to being a vampire or they will kill him. At first Mae gets away with feeding Caleb herself but Jesse insist that Caleb has to cross the line and kill to feed himself or he’s dead. Meanwhile Caleb father’s Loy (Tim Thomerson) and younger sister Sarah are making their way across the country hunting for him

This film was so unique in many ways when it was made which takes a more realistic view of vampires and makes them more human but no less brutal. The scene in the bar where they kill off the patrons while laughing and dancing is tense and brutal. The shoot-out at the motel is another memorable scene with the vampires actually burning in the sun with flames coming from their bodies and not some sort of melting special effect. I admit I neglect this film a bit when it comes to re-watching films but then it really isn’t a feel-good film and I like being reminded how good this film is when I do get round to it

The Lost Boys

This is another one of my favourite films and every time I see it I just fall in love with the characters, the setting, the look the music all over again. Lucy (Dianne West) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) moves back to stay with her father (Barnard Hughes) in the town of Santa Carla on the Californian coast. Sam meets two boys Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allen (Jamison Newlander) Frog who claim to be vampire hunters working in their parent’s comic book store. Sam doesn’t take them seriously at all until Michael comes down with a bad case of vampirism after hanging out with a group of vampire bikers led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). His only chance of rescuing Michel is to find the original vampire and kill him but that isn’t going to be easy, leading to a climactic showdown with the bloodsuckers.

This is much lighter in tone than Near Dark and it’s bright and full of humour. Though you don’t really see them doing it the vampires in this film can fly and they do it all the time. It’s just so full of what was good about 80s horror films and is an essential part of my Halloween viewing


1 Comment

Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Review: Hellraiser – Hellworld

Hellraiser Reviews

hellworld 001

Look at this crude photoshop job with the head of Pinhead and the green Matrix text you can tell from the cover how much writing effort was put in

I don’t think I’d have bothered with this film if not to complete my reviews of all the Hellraiser films. It is the film that’s furthest from the original film, being little more than a slasher film tarted up in Hellraiser trappings and fused with a thin veneer of cliché computer gamer. The direction is okay, the acting variable but good enough but what really lets it down is the story. I never felt involved in the story because it never felt like a Hellraiser film and the Hellraiser trappings were a constant reminder of that.

The film opens with a teenager digging a hole in a cellar. This is Adam () and although he is central to the story we don’t get much insight into his character apart from flash backs to this scene where he kills himself by pouring petrol over himself and burning himself to death.

At Adam’s funeral we learn from his buddies that Adam killed himself because he was obsessed with a computer game called Hellworld. I have no idea how that is supposed to work but the film will not be exploring this deadly game in any way at all. Hellworld seems to be this film’s introduction the Hellraiser mythos, showing that film is flirting with fourth wall. Adam’s friends are the usual gang of five clichés of the genre: there’s the pretty jock Mike (Henry Cavill in a pre-Superman role), the perky punky Allison (Anna Tolputt), the cheerful asthmatic joker Derrick (Khary Payton), walking cloud of depression Jake (Christopher Jacot) and last of course Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) the nice girl destined to be the last one standing. None of Adam’s family is present because his mother is in a mental hospital after finding his body while his father has never been around is constantly abroad on business. And that’s it for Adam’s backstory. The friends are all feeling guilty for not intervening to prevent Adam from killing himself but it’s difficult to justify blaming them even if they were all playing the Hellworld game too. Unfortunately the theme of guilt and blame are going to be central to the story. The funeral scene ends with Chelsea opening the coffin and getting grabbed by the corpse before waking up because she was having a nightmare.

Forward two years and Chelsea is studying in her when Mike comes to her door to try to scare her with a Cenobite mask. He’s really there to show her a Hellworld website with a game whose prize is an invitation to party at somewhere called Leviathan House, a reference so obvious it gets lampshaded by Chelsea rolling her eyes. Mike tries to talk Chelsea into going but she really doesn’t and remarks that Derrick and Allison wouldn’t be interested. Cut to Derrick and Allison who are eagerly playing the game at their computer to win themselves invitations. This means that only Chelsea doesn’t want to go but on the day of the party she shows up in her SUV to drive them up there.

They get to the very large Leviathan House and inside the party is in full swing. The place is decorated with Lament boxes and bright neon signs and there are several bars for the partygoers. By an amazing coincidence Jake arrives just behind them to open contempt from Allison and fake friendliness from the others.

The host of the party (Lance Henriksen) bursts out a pair of double doors and greets the five, identifying them as newbies and after seeing their invitations he invites them in for drinks and an introductory tour of the house. Only Jake and Chelsea turn down the offer of drink, Jake because he doesn’t drink and Chelsea because she’s driving. His office is full of Hellraiser paraphernalia and busy hands are soon picking things up and playing with them. Allison quickly regrets spraying herself with perfume from a bottle and Mike finds his fingers stained with ink from the Cenobite design tarot cards he plays with. There’s a sense of significance about these events.

As he takes them down to the basement he tells stories about the house’s past as a convent and then later as a mental hospital with the tragedies involved in both periods. The basement basically looks like a pathology lab with shelves full of specimens of deformed foetuses and body parts and surgical tools lying around. Allison, Mike and Derrick seem impressed but Chelsea needs a bit more than theatrical props to scare her. She gets it when the host grabs her arm and sticks a pin deep into it. Chelsea feels strange she has a sudden vision of Pinhead pulling the pin out. It only lasts for a moment then everything’s back to normal but she’s very wary of the host and tells him to stay away from her.

The host takes them back upstairs to enjoy the party and introduces them to some fairly pointless scheme where everyone has a numbered mask and a mobile phone and if you fancy someone you call their number. It sounds something from a middle class middle aged swingers party and not really something for college students. While on the subject of the party goers the whole thing seems very tame and vanilla and the crowd are a bit plain and boring despite the sex and gratuitous bare breasts. There is no difference between this crowd and that of any other nightclub and they don’t seem like Hellraiser fans. This might be justified by later revelations but it goes unnoticed by the friends.

They split up at the party so of course this is when they start dying off. Aliison sees a room with a large “Keep Out” sign on the door so she enters because she’s naughty. She finds a torture chair and sits on it and suddenly it locks her in place and a nasty looking pair of rotating saw blades lock in place in front of her face. The host appears and engages the motor for the blades which slowly come towards Allison’s throat and slices it open. Pinhead appears and tells her Adam was right

This is followed by a scene where Jake meets the host who gives him a puzzle box made by Adam. When Jake examines it nails spring out and pierce his fingers. This is a bit strange because it seems this scene should have come earlier.

Derrick is dancing with a woman when he loses in inhaler and it falls down a grate into the basement. He wheezes down stairs and recovers his inhaler in the pathology lab. He takes a puff and lies down to recover. Pinhead appears and chops off his head.

Mike got together with a woman who gives him a blowjob. Afterwards she takes him down to the basement with promises of more sex but when they get to pathology lab she locks him in and leaves. Mike tries to pretend he’s not freaked out by the props and by the headless corpse dressed in Derek’s clothes but they unsettle him then he sees Derrick’s head in a jar and freaks. A Cenobite enters the room an operates a winch that drives a huge hook into Mike’s back and drags him around until he dies and then Pinhead appears and tells us that it just beginning.

This just leaves Jake and Chelsea among the friends and the film changes pace. Jake goes to bar to try to get a drink but everyone ignores like he’s not there. He follows a woman into an upper gallery area and they make love but she turns out to be a ghost of a nun. Chelsea was following someone who looks like Adam and ended up locked in a room. She tries to call the police but when they arrive the host convinces them that one of his guests is drunk and playing joke. Chelsea tries calling them and telling them to look up at the window she is watching them from but they can’t see her and eventually leave.

I’ve talked about this long enough and this film’s last act has a fairly uninteresting series of chases and fake outs around the house by Chelsea and Jake as they figure out what’s going on. Jake realises that whole thing was set-up to get them there and what they are experiencing has stopped being real some time ago. Chelsea has discovered that their host is actually Adam’s father and he blames them for Adam’s death. The whole thing was a very elaborate murder plot but the host wanted to make them suffer using the Hellword he blames for the death of his son. He drugged them with some kind of magic drug that can somehow fully create a convincing reality with help of subliminal suggestions. All five have been buried in coffins since their visit to the basement and everything since was created by suggestions delivered through the phones left in the coffins. It just seems too elaborate and would only ever work because it is written that way in the script. Anyway Chelsea and Jake are both rescued by the police who got phone call from this place, probably from Adam’s ghost since the house is empty and the host has fled.

All the earlier appearances of Pinhead and the Cenobites in the film were just from the imagination of the victims, explaining their out of character behaviour but as the host sits in hotel examining the puzzle box he brought with him it turns out to the genuine article and it opens. Pinhead and the Cenobites arrive and introduce the host to hell with an impressive blade on a chain and one of those CGI effects of a body falling to bits after a cartoonish delay. It is far too little and far too late.

I think the problem with this film is that it was thrown together with a low-budget and a script that was barely more than an outline. It was made back-to-back with Deader but instead of incorporating the Romanian location into the script this tried to pretend it was somewhere in America.Overall is it is just a run-of-the-mill slasher film and Pinhead and the Cenobites are reduced to a mere cameo

Rating 5.0/10

Related Articles

1 Comment

Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Review: You’re Next

Cinema Review

Youre Next 001I had heard positive reviews for this film but managed to avoid reading any details so I had only a vague notion of what it was about. The film seems to have being doing the rounds of the film festivals for ages before it finally got into cinemas and I don’t know how long a violent horror film will last since it’s a lot less mainstream than The Conjuring. I knew that it featured home invasion which is not my favourite thriller genre but this film delivered a bit more than a middle class morality tale and I actually enjoyed it, helped in part by the streak of dark humour in the story.

We get a kind of prologue where a man and his much younger lover are brutally murdered and the words ”You’re Next” are written in blood on a window. This sets up the threat from psychopathic killers wearing animal masks and reminded me of The Strangers.

Crispian Davison (AJ Bowen) is driving to his parents’ large summer vacation house with his Australian girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) for a family reunion to celebrate his parents’ wedding anniversary. Crispian is a college professor and Erin was one of his students. His parents Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are very wealthy and have already arrived at the house. They passed their neighbour’s house and it’s the one where the murders happened but everything looks fine from the outside so they carried on. Paul is puzzled to discover the front door is open. Aubrey is unsettled but Paul has a look inside and nothing seems to be disturbed.

Aubrey starts taking the dust sheets off the furniture while Paul is unloading the car. She hears the sound of someone moving around upstairs and freaks out, telling Paul they have to leave immediately this would have been a good idea but we’re in a horror film so Paul gets Aubrey to wait outside while he checks upstairs. He was sceptical but when he gets upstairs also hears the sounds of someone but doesn’t find anyone and his search is interrupted by the arrival of Crispian and Erin. The rest of the family are arriving the following day.

When Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his wife Aimee (Amy Seimetz) arrive it’s obvious there is long running bitterness between Crispian and his older brother which stretches the patience of their father. Drake is arrogant and dismissive towards Crispian while Crispian is defensive and aggressive towards Drake. They slip so easily into their antagonistic roles like they are teenage boys again and its quit amusing these overgrown children bickering. The others arrive in a group: Kelly (Margaret Laney) is with her boyfriend Tariq (Ti West) and the youngest brother Felix (Nicholas Tucci) has brought his unpleasant punky girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn). You can tell this is going to an interesting weekend.

That evening they all sit around the table and we get some very typical awkward interactions. Drake asks Tariq what he does and Tariq says he’s documentary director and when everyone is suddenly interested in Tariq Drake drags himself into centre stage with boorish ignorant career advice for Tariq as if has a clue what he’s talking about. After that he starts with sotto voce comments about the relationship between Crispian and Erin just to piss Crispian off and it works.

The dysfunctional dinner party is interrupted by a crossbow bolt smashing through the window right into someone’s head. Everyone panics and Drake gets a crossbow bolt in his shoulder. I’m not going to give any more details than that but safe to say that we are in a “house under siege” situation and this where Erin steps up from the background as someone who knows how to turn the terrible odds in her favour in some very brutal and creative ways. While the Davison family are coming up with all sorts of ideas guaranteed to get someone killed Erin is tries to stop them doing stupid things such as running out the front door to get to their cars. This is preceded by a very childish argument between Drake and Crispian about who is the fastest runner and of course the stupid plan does result in another death.

This film is more than a home invasion film and the story takes a sharp turn about halfway through but the character of Erin is consistently badass and she really steals centre stage in this film thanks to some cool direction and a great performance from Sharni Vinson. I think the other actors get some unfair stick for their performances but I didn’t see much wrong and the bickering between and Drake and Crispian was very well done. I enjoyed this film which took the home invasion story and give it a twist. It has an interesting soundtrack which deliberately references the music from 80s horror films and reminded me of the music in the films of Lucio Fulci at times.

Rating 7.0/10

Related Articles

1 Comment

Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , , ,

Review: The Wrong Road

DVD Review

The Wrong Road DVD 001

Strangely it only has a 15 rating on the BBFC website

At least that’s what it says on the DVD box but on IMDb it turns out that it was originally called Munger Road. I won’t be surprised if the new name is an attempt the cash in on the similarity to the Wrong Turn backwoods slasher films but this film really does not share anything in common in with those. It does have a group of stupid college kids getting chased by some unseen killer but the kills, if they happen at all, are off-screen and more time is spent with the police investigating an escaped killer. Overall it felt like the first half of a TV miniseries and this includes a very unsatisfyingly abrupt ending.

A pair of college boys Scott (Hallock Beals) and Corey (Trevor Morgan) take their girlfriends Joe (Brooke Peoples) and Rachael (Lauren Storm) on a late night drive to a quiet railway crossing to show them the truth of the spooky local stories that it is haunted. Joe and Rachael are hoping that it is just a pathetic excuse to go there and make out but the boys are taking it too seriously.

The legend is that if a car is stopped on the tracks and out into neutral the car will be slowly pushed off the track and sometimes a pair of small hand-prints is found on the bumper. Corey has brought talcum powder to spread on the bumper and sure enough when they try for themselves there are hand-prints on the bumper. Rachael and Joe don’t believe it for a second and insist it must be a set-up. Joe demands they drive them back to town but when Corey tries to drive them back home his engine goes dead leaving them stuck miles from town and of course they find out they have no signals on their phones

Back in town Police Chief Kirkhoven (Bruce Davison) is concerned about the escape of a notorious cannibal serial killer who killed several local children before he was caught. He was the local priest and no-one suspected him before his crimes were revealed. Kirkhoven is determined to catch the killer and with Deputy Hendricks (Randall Batinkoff) they investigate the places he lived and worked in case he makes his way back there. He also has to worry about the four college kids whose parents have reported them missing.

The college kids in the car get creeped-out by sounds from outside the car that they can’t identify but sounds like some sort of animal. There’s some banging on the car and they try to stay quiet and wait for whatever it is to go away. Once whatever it is goes away Joe is wanting to walk up the road to get a phone signal but Corey says he will go instead. This the start of the process of isolating the victims so that they can be picked-off one by one and we learn who the main protagonist is going to be and in this film it’s Joe.

The film does manage to create a creepy atmosphere at times during the scenes in the car but there’s a lot of camcorder footage and scenes shot in the dark which gave me eye-strain trying to make out what was happening. The story does not appear to be very original but that is hard to judge since we only get half a story. That is the main problem with this film: it finishes without ending. We don’t learn who has lived or died and don’t see the story resolved, just a promise that it will be finished in the sequel. It is infuriating when it happens in a TV show but  seeing it in a film made my jaw drop at the ‘To be continued’ message. There was of course no warning about this on the DVD box. As a result I’m going to give film a half score.

Rating 3.0/10

Related Articles

1 Comment

Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , , ,

Review: Dead Souls

DVD Review

The cheap photoshop cover design should have been a warning

The cheap Photoshop cover design should have been a clue

Like many of many of blind buys this was going cheap in the DVD section of the supermarket. Sometimes I‘ll discover a hidden gem or a total turd. This is one of the other types, an unremarkable film that goes through the paces of an unoriginal forgettable story. It’s clear it has a low budget and I think was made for one those US cable TV channels called Chiller 

A few days after his 18th birthday Johnny Petrie (Jesse James) finds a letter addressed to him from a lawyer Andrew Judson (Jaiden Kaine) that his controlling mother Mary (Geraldine Hughes) hid from him. Mary does not let Johnny have a mobile phone, watch television and will not let him even go to college (yet she still lets him attend a public school which seems inconsistent). Making Mary into a religious nut mostly seems to be a way to explain why an 18-year-old would not have a phone.

It turns out that Johnny has inherited a house and its estate in Maine from his family and Judson wants to meet John to sign some papers so that he can get on with selling it. The film actually opened with a minister killing his family and nailing them all to wooden crosses in the barn. A young boy managed to hide his baby brother from his father before being killed so it’s no real mystery to us that Johnny is the baby. When he asks his mother she starts freaking out and collapses. She gets admitted to hospital and kept in for observation.

While Mary is in hospital Johnny goes to talk to Judson in Maine. I can’t remember the name of the town but it was something like Wetwipe. As he gets of the train he’s greeted by three teenage bullies led by Mack (Noah Fleiss) who seem to know all about him and when he would be arriving. They are too young to remember the murders so their attitude seems to stem from the needs of the plot especially since none of the other locals express concern about him being back. Is this hint of a deeper plot? No it really isn’t.

Johnny and Judson go out to the house and Judson shows him around but he seems to be in a rush to get Johnny to agree to sell the property and leave. He does tell Johnny that the house was his father’s and that he was the only survivor of a terrible accident that killed his family. Johnny wants to take some time to look the place over on his own and see if he can learn something about them.

As soon as Judson leaves Johnny feels nervous since this probably the first time he’s been so alone. He starts hearing sounds of someone moving around upstairs and just when I was expecting some ghosts to start doing stuff it turns out that Johnny has a squatter, a runaway called Emma (Magda Apanowicz) who never does tell Johnny what she’s running away from. Emma becomes a love interest eventually but now her role is someone for Johnny to talk to.

There’s a few more false starts involving Mack and his buddies followed by a visit from a local madman Sheriff Depford (Bill Moseley) who knows what’s going on and how to stop it, but of course he gets dragged off by the police who also kindly explain to Johnny that his name was originally Bryan and that his family were murdered by his father.

Finally we get to see the spirits of his family as they creep around for the benefit of the audience but of course go unseen by Johnny or Emma. The film then goes into the third act and as the mystery is unravelled I felt a strong sense of “hunh?” I know that these sort of stories need some mystical bollox explanation but this was just an incoherent jumble of made-up things that somehow justified what happened. It just wasn’t developed enough and I felt disappointed. A lot of characters get killed at the end too but it seemed very rushed. Overall I think I don’t have strong opinion about this film.

Rating 5.0/10

Related Articles

1 Comment

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


Tags: , , ,

Review: Mama

DVD Review

Mama DVD 001This is another creepy horror from director Guillermo del Toro that has children as main characters. He really has a way with stories that use the perspective of children to access the deepest most primitive fears of the darkness and the unknown.

Two little girls Lilly and Victoria are kidnapped by their father Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who takes them to a remote cabin in the woods. Since he has killed their mother there’s a strong hint he’s going to kill them and himself but then Mama appears and kills him.

Five years later and Jeffrey’s brother Lucas (also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has not given up hunting for his Jeffrey and his daughters even though he has spent all his money hiring two men to searching the whole county. Then one day they find Jeffrey’s car abandoned in the woods after it went off the road and they soon come across the cabin. Inside are the two little girls who have gone totally feral and behave like frightened wild animals

The girls are in the clinic of psychologist Dr Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) who is workings on getting the girls socialized again. This is going better with older girl Victoria (Megan Charpentier) but there has only been limited success with Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) who was only a baby when their father died. He believes the girls created Mama out of their imagination.

Lucas wants custody of the two girls but their mother’s aunt Jean (Jane Moffat) has also applied for custody on the grounds that she can offer them a stable home while Lucas is a struggling artist and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) is a bass guitarist with a rock band and tours around a lot. Before the girls were found Annabel was happy with her rock ’n’ roll lifestyle and not really ready to settle down and have kids but she knows how much Lucas wants them. The court will go along with Dr Dreyfuss’s recommendation and he prefers Lucas and Annabel but only on the condition that they move into a large house owned by his institute so he can continue with his work with the girls.

When they move into the house at first it seems the girls are still clinging on to their Mama fantasy but it gets more obvious to Annabel as things go on that Mama is real presence and a very real threat to Lucas, Annabel and the girls.

The film is good at creating a creepy atmosphere with a consistently k muted look full of dark shadows where Mama hides. The Mama CGI gets less scary the more she appears later in the film but it was never too distracting. The children playing Victoria and Lily really are very good with a mixture of innocence and vulnerability and wildness and danger.

Annabel starts the film not wanting to have children so of course the film has her looking after the children on her own and trying to protect them from the jealous clutches of Mama. At first she’s doing it out of her love of Lucas but later she’s willing to fight the angry spirit for the girls. It is a bit of an abrupt turnaround but it’s typical of films to condense emotional arcs like this and Jessica manages to pull it off okay.

This is an effective ghost story with a straightforward plot that relies on creepy atmosphere more than gore.

Rating 7.0/10

Related Articles

1 Comment

Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Film


Tags: , , , ,

Review: The Wicked

DVD Review

The Wicked DVD 001This one was a blind buy at the bargain section of the local HMV and I didn’t have expectations about its quality but it at least it turned out to be an entertaining film that isn’t anything to excited about but also doesn’t take itself too seriously so is less of a grind than other low budget films.

Before the titles we see a little girl Amanda (Caitlin Carmichael) in her bed and she is terrified, crying to her mother about the Wicked. Her mother tries to reassure her that the Wicked is just a silly story but later that night something does come and drags Amanda away. So even before the titles we know that the Wicked is real and is some sort of powerful supernatural evil

Witches really do get rough treatment at the hands of horror writers, who have turned them into a movie monster so you can’t expect a serious study of witchcraft in this film. Witches are particularly convenient in horror films because their use of magic spells means writers can pull their powers out of thin air as the story requires and that happens quite a lot in this film.

In the town of Bogie Falls there’s a legend that a witch (Cassie Keller) was burnt to death sometime in the past. The person telling the story says it was about a hundred years ago but I’m sure that they didn’t get away with burning witches in 1913 no matter how rural Baker County might be. She didn’t die because she comes back every year on the spring equinox to steal people away and eat them, starting from their feet. She has to do this to keep herself alive. There was a ritual dare for the local high school kids to go to her house called Open Hearth which is still standing out in the woods. As a dare the kids throw rocks at the house but if anyone breaks a window then the witch will come for them. This is what happened to Amanda so even though it is being as treated as a silly story to scare kids we already know it is true.

What this film needs is a bunch of high school students who are stupid enough to go to Open Hearth and perfect fort this role is 18-year-old Zach (Justin Deeley) and his friends Carter (Chase Maser) and Tracy (Jackelyn Gauci). They are talking about plans to go camping at Open Hearth while a younger girl Sammy (Diana Hopper) eavesdrops from the nearby bushes. Sammy is a close friend of Zach’s younger brother Max (Devon Werkheiser)  and she tells Max about Zach’s plans and suggests they go up there too and perhaps get photographs of them being naughty so that Max can use them to blackmail Zach. Sammy and Max have often got up to mischief together but Max is starting to want to grow up a bit while Sammy wants to cling onto her childhood. After suffering from a spot of Zach throwing his weight around Max agrees to go with her.

There is another person joining them and they pick her up next day on the way to the campsite. Terri (Nicole Forester) is a new girl at school and Tracy has invited her along as a date for Zach. She is not only attractive and pretty smart but going by her family’s house her parents are loaded. We learn all about the legend of the witch from Carter as he tells the story to Terri trying to scare her but Terri doesn’t take any of it seriously and nor does Zach.

There’s also a pair of dickhead comedy relief deputies Karl (Jamie Kaler) and Mahoney (Robert Young) who take a perverse pleasure in hassling Sammy and Max. Deputy Karl was a regular victim of the pair’s childish pranking and now he has a badge he wants to abuse it for petty payback.

Zach and friends drive to small lake that is a short hike away from Open Hearth and set up camp before going to the house and throwing stones at it. Of course a window breaks but they just laugh and creep themselves out at shadows moving around in the house then head back the campsite. Carter and Tracy pair off for comically noisy sex while Zach and Terri chat by the lake before they go for a swim and sex in the lake.

Meanwhile Max and Sammy have arrived at the house and they also throw rocks at it and Max breaks a window. The witch comes out of the house after them and they run into the woods but the witch has a crazy CGI smoke teleportation power and she catches them. The story involves a lot of running away from the witch through the woods and going into the house to rescue people from the witch before she puts through her large rusty meat grinder and eats them.

This looks like a low-budget film judging by the special effects but the story was entertaining enough. The acting was very variable quality and there was some pretty corny dialogue that sounded awkward in the delivery. I did like the characters, especially Terri who seemed a lot less dumb than typical horror film characters. You can hardly accuse the film of originality but there were a few nice touches of detail that helps it to stand out a little.

Rating 6.0/10

Related Articles


Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Film


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: