Sunday, 26 April 2020

Edge of Extinction


d./w. Andrew Gilbert; p. Andrew Gilbert, Julian Hundy; cast: Luke Hobson, Georgie Smibert, Chris Kaye, Bryn Hodgen, Nicholas Chambers, Susan Lee Burton, Neil Summerville

Nasty, brutish and, well, 141 minutes long, this impressive second feature from the team behind The Dead Inside is a bleakly nihilist, bloodily violent post-apocalyptic tale where no character has any real moral integrity. Two men with no reason to trust each other rescue a female mutual comrade from an organised gang of cannibal psycho rapists, then face down their enemy with the help of a couple living in an isolated eco-home. There are many more layers of betrayal and brutality than that precis implies. It all happens a few years after a global war reduced society to individuals and groups eking out a desperate existence, making this a sort of miserabilist British Mad Max. Childhood flashbacks give us some clues, though it’s never explained why no-one has a gun (which would have changed the plot significantly!). Shot (as The Brink) weekends in 2017/18 in Beds and Bucks, with terrific use of derelict locations. Mycho’s Anna and MJ Dixon were associate producers (and are among the extras), repaying Hundy and Gilbert’s contribution as co-producers on Mask of Thorn. Brit horror regular Rudy Barrow has a small role but doesn’t last long.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

It Never Sleeps


d. Matt Mitchell; w. Matt Mitchell, Taliesyn Mitchell; p. Clare Pearce; cast: Laura Swift, Fabrizio Santino, Cassandra Orhan, Pixie Le Knot, Charlie Rawes, Simon Mathews, Richard Foster-King, Kevin Golding

Unseen outside South Africa due to sales agent problems, this is a slick, enjoyable and original spooker from the director of Gangsters,Guns and Zombies. Ex-squaddie Joan, now working as a bouncer, sees a therapist to help overcome her PTSD. But there’s more to her problems than flashbacks to Afghanistan. She’s being haunted by a young woman – and something even less corporeal. A man who she literally met once, randomly, for a few seconds is having similar visions and together they try to solve the mystery. It Never Sleeps take a sharp left turn about 20 minutes from the end which will initially leave you confused and annoyed – but stay the course because things will make sense before the credits roll. Swift (principally a stunt performer) is great in the lead with terrific support from Orhan as her gobby best friend and Rawes as her partner on the nightclub doors. Shot in 2014, this will definitely get a proper release at some point.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

The Haunting of Margam Castle


d./w. Andrew Jones; p. Rebecca Graham, Robert Graham, Andrew Jones, Sharron Jones, Harry Willis, Jonathan Willis, Tom Willis; cast: Jane Merrow, Derren Nesbitt, Vernon Dobtcheff, Simon Bamford, Garrick Hagon, Caroline Munro, Judy Matheson, Amy Quick, Lance C Fuller, Mads Koudal

A solid B-movie spook-show with a nostalgic cluster of British horror veterans, Andrew Jones’ latest is a treat for fans that effectively combines classic and contemporary horror. Nesbitt and Merrow are a local history expert and a medium assisting a visiting gaggle of American para-psychologists in a Welsh castle, where things get spooky in act 2 and deadly in act 3. Dobtcheff is the creepy caretaker, Munro and Matheson are warning voices in the local pub, and Biggs Darklighter is the Dean who sends them across the Pond to boost his university’s reputation. Add in Hellraiser’s Bamford as Matthew Hopkins in a hallucinatory sequence and indie legend Koudal as a ghostly axe murderer and there’s not a lot of space left for the actual plot, to be honest. Jones’ regular DP Jonathan McLaughlin ably photographs the actual Margam Castle, an early Victorian monstrosity built for William Fox Talbot’s family. If it looks familiar, you might have seen it in Up All Night or any of several ghost-hunting TV series.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Day of the Stranger


d./w./p. Thomas Lee Rutter; cast: Dale Sheppard, Gary Baxter, Gary Shail, Richard Rowbotham, James Taylor, Bazz Hancher, Jim Heal, Maryan Forouhandeh

The list of British westerns is fairly short and frankly a bit odd. Which is also a perfect description of Thomas Lee Rutter’s latest feature. Rutter is the West Midlands auteur who gave me a couple of early credits in his slasher Mr Blades and his werewolf romp Full Moon Massacre. Now he’s working with real actors like Gary Shail from Metal Mickey and Richard Rowbotham from The Grimleys – on a trippy microbudget horse opera. Ostensibly based on a Mark Twain short story, there’s not a great deal of story here. But westerns are not about narrative, they’re about a feeling, an essence: individuals rattling around in a space so large it shouldn’t exist, occasionally interacting in surprising, often violent, ways. Tom has caught the spirit of the western genre (or at least, its more existential side) brilliantly. Parts are talkie, the desert is a Welsh beach, accents are … variable … and the only horses are stock footage. But Day of the Stranger feels right. Like Sergio Corbucci took a day trip to Rhyl. It shouldn't work... but it does.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Haunting of Alcatraz

d./w./p. Steve Lawson; cast: Tom Hendryk, Helen Crevel, Chris Lines, Jonathan Hansler, Mark Topping, Beau Fowler, Marcus Langford

The latest feature from Lawson (Hellriser, Aura, Pentagram) is a spooky historical set in the eponymous prison in 1942. College boy Charlie lands a job as a clerk on the notorious block D where Cell 13 is used to make difficult prisoners disappear, a process invariably recorded as ‘suicide’. He befriends a nurse, clashes with the Warden and discovers that Cell 13 was, five years earlier the scene of a particularly nasty actual suicide by a prisoner whose ghost still lurks therein. Shot in Gloucester Prison, this overcomes much of its low-budget nature but can’t avoid depicting Alcatraz as an institution with five staff and even fewer prisoners. A fine cast and solid script make up for this, along with the director’s typically adroit camera-work. At 90 minutes it’s a tad long, especially given its languorous pace – don’t expect intense action scenes or jump-scares. Nevertheless The Haunting of Alcatraz is a slow-build ghost tale that draws you in and keeps you gripped. Produced for, and soon to be released by, High Fliers.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

All the new British horror films released in 2019

Here are the 90 British horror features that I know have been released in 2019. As usual, there's probably about 10 or so that I haven't discovered yet.

This is the last year that I will publish thas list. As previously explained, I'm packing in my exhaustive and exhausting research into new British horror to concentrate on publishing my multi-volume encyclopaedia of UK horror films 2000-2019 (and other books).

I'm still hoping somebody will step forward to continue this work in the 2020s. If no-one does, then future cinema historians, looking back from a few decades hence, will find a bizarre sudden drop-off in information about the genre after 2019, because this stuff can't be researched retrospectively.

  • #Followme (Sam Hardy)
  • 13 Graves (John Langridge)
  • 47 Meters Down: Uncaged aka 47 Meters Down: The Next Chapter (Johannes Roberts)
  • Alien Party Crashers aka Canaries (Peter Stray)
  • Annabellum: The Curse of Salem (Craig Rees)
  • Apocalypse of the Blood Freak (Andrew Clarke)
  • Apocalyptic 2077 (Marc Hamill)
  • Armageddon Gospels (John Harrigan)
  • Aylesbury Dead II (Wiliam Axtell)
  • Black Site (Tom Paton)
  • Blood Myth (Sean Brown, Luke Gosling)
  • Book of Monsters (Stewart Sparke)
  • Borley Rectory (Ashley Thorpe)
  • Bride of Scarecrow (Louisa Warren)
  • Bundy and the Green River Killer (Andrew Jones)
  • Burning Men (Jeremy Wooding)
  • Cannibals and Carpet Fitters (James Bushe)
  • The Circle (Peter Callow)
  • The Cleansing (Antony Smith)
  • Cleavers: Killer Clowns aka Cleavers: It Runs in the Family (MJ Dixon)
  • Crucible of the Vampire (Iain Ross-McNamee)
  • CTRL (Harry Lindley)
  • The Curse of Halloween Jack (Andrew Jones)
  • The Dark Mile (Gary Love)
  • The Dark Within (David Ryan Keith)
  • Demon Eye (Ryan Simons)
  • Doll Cemetery (Steven M Smith)
  • Doom Room aka Nightmare Box (Jon Keeyes)
  • The Final Scream aka Deadly Callback (Scott Jeffrey)
  • Follow the Crows (Alex Secker)
  • Frankenstein's Creature (Sam Ashurst)
  • Gwen (William McGregor)
  • The Haunted aka The Haunting (David Holroyd)
  • The Haunting of Borley Rectory (Steven M Smith)
  • Here Comes Hell (Jack McHenry)
  • Heretiks aka The Convent (Paul Hyett)
  • In Fabric (Peter Strickland)
  • The Investigation: A Haunting in Sherwood (Richard Mansfield)
  • The Isle (Matthew Butler)
  • Is That You? aka ¿Eres tú Papá? (Ruy Riveron Sanchez)
  • Killer Weekend aka FUBAR (Ben Kent)
  • Landing Lake (Cesare Pollacci Libardi Di K)
  • The Last Faust (Philip Humm)
  • Let’s Go Home (Suha Al Khalifa)
  • The Lodge (Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz)
  • Lonely Hearts (Sam Mason-Bell, Jessica Hunt)
  • Mask of Thorn (MJ Dixon)
  • The Massacre on Cielo Drive aka The Manson Family Massacre aka The House on Cielo Drive (Andrew Jones)
  • The Missing (Ranjeet S Marwa)
  • Mrs Wiltshire aka Dark Ditties Presents Mrs Wiltshire (Gary Smart)
  • The Mummy Reborn (Dan Allen)
  • Muse (Richard John Taylor)
  • Ouijageist (John R Walker)
  • Pagan Warrior aka Viking vs Krampus (Louise Warren)
  • Patients of a Saint (Russell Owen)
  • Pentagram (Steve Lawson)
  • Perfect Skin (Kevin Chicken)
  • Pet Graveyard aka Grim Reaper (Rebecca Matthews)
  • Point of Death aka In Extremis (Steve Stone)
  • Portmanteau (Mark Garvey)
  • Postscript (Mark Garvey)
  • The Power (Paul Hills)
  • Robert Reborn (Andrew Jones)
  • The Santa Suicides (Stephan George)
  • Scare Attraction (Steven M Smith)
  • School of the Damned (Peter Vincent)
  • Scrawl (Peter Hearn)
  • The Seven (Richard Colton)
  • Shed of the Dead (Drew Cullingham)
  • Sniper Corpse (Keith R Robinson)
  • Soul Reaper (Bob Pipe)
  • Suburban Coffin (Ben Rider)
  • Suicide Club (Maximilian von Vier)
  • Tales from the Lodge (Abigail Blackmore)
  • The Tombs aka The Tombs: Rise of the Damned (Dan Brownlie)
  • The Tormented (Tim Pickette)
  • To Tokyo (Caspar Seale-Jones)
  • Tooth Fairy aka Toof aka Curse of the Tooth Fairy (Louisa Warren)
  • Trash Arts Killers Vol.2 (Sam Mason Bell et al)
  • Trick or Treat (Ed Boase)
  • The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman (Will’ Terran)
  • The Village in the Woods aka Harbour (Raine McCormack)
  • White Chamber (Paul Raschid)
  • Wicked Witches aka The Witches of Dumpling Farm (Martin J Pickering)
  • Widow's Walk (Alexandra Boyd)
  • Winterskin (Charlie Steeds)
  • The Witching Hour (Adam Evans)
  • Wolf (Stuart Brennan)
  • Wounds aka Transgression aka The Translation of Wounds (Babak Anvari)
  • The Young Cannibals aka Eaten Alive! (Kris Carr, Sam Fowler)