Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Films that sneaked out when no-one was looking: Territory

Territory has been in the ‘unreleased, possibly uncompleted’ appendix of my masterlist since it was shot back in 2012. It is now available to view on YouTube, where it popped up with minimal fanfare last Halloween. Even the IMDB hasn’t noticed yet and still lists the film’s year as ‘(????)’.

I haven’t watched the film myself yet but here’s the synopsis: “Four cars lie stranded on a country road in the middle of the night - the aftermath of a car crash. Tensions run high as the survivors struggle to resolve the situation, but they soon realise that the worst is far from over.” A clue as to what “the worst” might be lies in the description of the film as “a creature feature in the same vein as Alien and The Thing."

Territory was written, directed and produced by two FX guys, Thomas Saville and Robert Vassie. Saville worked on Small Town Folk, Mutant Chronicles, Stalled and Battlefield Death Tales, while Vassie’s CV includes Victor Frankenstein, Judas Ghost, Pete’s Dragon and a couple of Bonds.

The cast includes Steve Smith (The Spell), Victoria Eldon (Stalled), Rob Maloney (Art House Massacre), Sylvie England, Dave Taylor, Karen Morgan, Eifion Melnyk-Jones, Will Ashbey, Charlotte Eldon, Sharon Muiruri, Karina Sugden and Jon Samuel.

Here's the Facebook page. Here's Rob Vassie explaining how the version on YouTube isn't quite as polished as he and Tom Saville wanted.


And here's the movie itself:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New Steve Lawson film, with special guest star

On Sunday I had the pleasure of hanging out at my old mate Steve Lawson's Creativ Studios where he was shooting his latest (title TBC) horror feature for 88 Films (who also back his recent geezer gangster picture Essex Heist).

Alongside behind-the-camera work as light-holder/tripod-shifter (I think 'grip' covers most of that) and reading in the lines of a Polish prostitute whose reverse angles will be filmed later, I was also in front of the camera, in hi-vis jacket, as a policeman at a crime scene tipping my hat to two detectives.


Astute readers will recognise one of these as Steven Dolton (Killersaurus, Devil's Tower), reprising his role as Detective Locke from Nocturnal Activity aka The Haunting of Annie Dyer, and the other as Charlie Bond (Curse of the Witching Tree, Strippers vs Werewolves) as his new partner, Detective Keyes. Also in the cast, but shooting on a different day, is British horror regular Nathan Head (Tuck Bushman and the Legend of Piddledown Dale, Book of the Dead, The Zombie King, Legacy of Thorn).

My non-speaking character doesn't have a name, but I like to think of him as the same policeman I played for Steve 15 years ago in Insiders...

Friday, 10 March 2017

Now on release 2: The Chamber

Ben Parker's tense, claustrophobic and very wet horror-thriller The Chamber opens in cinemas today.

You can catch it all week at the Picturehouse Central in That London or at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

Here's my review, from a preview screening in London a few weeks back. (Big thanks to Sadari Cunningham of Fetch Publicity for the invite.)

If you can't make it to London or Cardiff, you can pick up the film on DVD, BR or download from 20th March.

Now on release 1: new vampire feature Night Kaleidoscope

Review coming soon. Meanwhile, from the press release:

Fresh from its preview screening at the Atlanta Days of the Dead Horror Convention, you can finally watch Night Kaleidoscope on Amazon Prime, buy on Region 2 DVD and even purchase a very limited VHS edition.  Region 1 and NTSC VHS and Very Limited Betamax to follow….

Night Kaleidoscope is the third feature from director Grant McPhee, following on from the success of his Post-Punk Documentary - Big Gold Dream, listed as one of Sight and Sounds best films of 2015, an Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award Winner and a recent screening on BBC TV.

Night Kaleidoscope is a very different film but maintains a similar punk rock attitude throughout.

Bridging a fine line between the trashy 70s Euro Horror of Jess Franco, the British Art-House miasma of Nicholas Roeg and the underground experiments of Kenneth Anger Night Kaleidoscope manages to become a unique film of its own.

The film is a treat for the eyes and ears – trippy, psychedelic imagery flashing against a pumping 80s synth rock score – story and logic come secondary to atmosphere and terror, a dreamy nightmare captured on film.

It is the story of Fion, a hardened psychic detective (Patrick O’Brien) who is happy to work for the highest bidder.  His latest case proves to be his toughest challenge yet when faced with depleting powers – which he tops up by smoking a mysterious psychedelic powder – Fion encounters a mysterious wave of murders across the city’s poor and deprived.  With the aid of Isobel (Mariel McAllan) their investigations lead them to enter a world of ancient evil in the form of a beautiful but deadly couple – Carrie and Lewis.  Set against the backdrop of a decaying city viewed through a Night Kaleidoscope.

Night Kaleidoscope is a brash, bold, surreal, stylish and hip entry to the aging Vampire Genre.  One where all rules are broken and is part dream, part nightmare.

Shot on a budget smaller, and a time-frame less than most films have for their trailer, Night Kaleidoscope manages to elevate itself above its limitations by use of imagination and a desire to challenge the perception of Micro Budget Feature Filmmaking.

Night Kaleidoscope is not like anything you’ve seen or heard before.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

12 British horror films which took 6 or more years to get released

Sometimes films are announced, made, publicised, maybe even play a few festivals - then simply vanish. But all is not lost. Just because a movie disappeared into several years ago doesn't mean it won't suddenly emerge in some format...

6 years

The Haunting of Ellie Rose was the feature debut of top FX artist Tristan Versluis, filmed in September 2009 as Not Alone. There was apparently some sort of disagreement between Tris and producer Andy Thompson (Kill KeithThe Scar Crow) and the movie remained unseen until its retitled UK DVD release in October 2015.

Dominic Holmes’ coulrophobic slasher The Clown was produced in 2007 and, after six years down the back of the sofa, eventually turned up on YouTube in May 2013.

Sticking with creepy clowns, James D Layton’s WebKam stars Brit horror regular Eleanor James as a woman forced to humiliate and scar herself to save her friend from a clown-masked psycho. Shot in Layton’s kitchen in August 2008, a trailer appeared five years later and the whole film made it to YouTube in December 2014.

7 years

Sean Martin made The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow, an enjoyable amalgam of time travel and London myths, back in 2003 and it did play a few festivals in 2004/05. Its actual release was on the IMDB in January 2010, although that version has since disappeared, as has the one on Amazon.

Idol of Evil is a pretty dire sub-Indiana Jones archaeology adventure which was marketed as horror because of the demon-thing at the end. Directed by Kevin McDonagh of Birmingham-based Rotunda Films, it was shot in 2004 but not released until April 2011, after Rotunda’s second horror film, the bizarrely werewolf-free Lycanthropy.

In early 2009, AD Barker shot A Reckoning (aka Straw Man), a post-apocalyptic two-hander starring Leslie Simpson and Axelle Carolyn. The film was finished and reviewed but remained tantalisingly unviewable until April 2016 when producer Adam Krayczynski posted it onto YouTube.

Andrew Goth’s surreal horror-western Gallowwalkers became notorious, during its October 2006 shoot in Namibia, for star Wesley Snipes’ tax return problems – although that wasn’t the reason for the film’s subsequent disappearance. Additional footage was shot (by someone else) in Mexico in May 2009 but the film remained ‘lost’ until suddenly appearing from nowhere at Grimmfest in October 2012. The first DVD was the American release in August 2013.

8 years

Back in June 2008 Harold Gasnier, an actor whose credits included Darkhunters, Hellbreeder and The Witches Hammer, sent me his feature The Demon Within for review. For years it seemed like I was the only person who had ever seen this supernatural thriller. Then, out of nowhere and with zero publicity, it appeared on US DVD in March 2016 as 666: A Demon Within. I may still be the only person who has ever seen it though…

I first met James Shanks in 1998 when I was reporting for SFX on his work redubbing Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. He showed me footage from Devil’s Harvest, a supernatural feature he had directed the previous year with Brian Blessed and Julie T Wallace. It was May 2005 when the film was finally released in the UK, retitled Don’t Go into the Attic.

9 years

Daniel Grant’s Evil Dead-influenced Dark Night was first screened in July 2006 so must have been filmed some time before then. Nine years later, in March 2015, this became the first British film given a legitimate release via BitTorrent.

Dark Eyes is “a darkly comic supernatural-psychological thriller involving a drug crazed artist, his obsession for a Russian waitress and an office worker who has premonitions involving a murder near a fridge (much to the dismay of her fish loving husband).” Well now I really want to see this! Shot in 2001 by Andrew Spencer (The Casebook of Eddie Brewer) this was made available on Spencer’s website in September 2010 but has since vanished again.

11 years

Simon Cox’s debut feature Driven concerns an author who discovers that a serial killer is copying the events of his latest book. Shot in 1998, this became available to buy through Cox’s website in April 2009 (retitled Written in Blood) – and still is, as far as I know. No stranger to long-term projects, Cox has been working on his sci-fi epic Kaleidoscope Man since at least 2008.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Zombies Have Fallen - apparently

Zombies Have Fallen is a brand new British horror film, as you can probably tell from the artwork. Shot over three years around Gretna Green (as Bad Blood) this has just been released on Amazon Prime.

Synopsis: "A young woman who possesses supernatural powers and visions of an upcoming apocalypse is aided by a retired bounty hunter who must protect her from those who wish to use her abilities for evil."

Directed by Sam Hampson, the film stars a bunch of Sam Hampson’s friends including Tony Gardner, director of werewolf indie Dense Fear Bloodline. For the latest info, check out www.facebook.com/InfinityFilmsOfficial

The film is distributed by Green Apple Entertainment whose other British horror titles include gangster giallo Isle of Dogs and festive slasher Christmas Slay.

Just one thing: if you're going to use a Union Jack in your marketing, Green Apple, please use an actual, real Union Jack and not this fake thing knocked up in Photoshop. It's like seeing an American flag with 11 stripes and 55 stars. It's just really obviously wrong.

But the film looks cool.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Can't wait to see... Darkness Wakes

Simon Richardson's feature Charlotte Wakes has been on my masterlist since it was shot a couple of tears ago. It has just popped up on Amazon pre-order under the new title Darkness Wakes. It's scheduled for a British DVD release via the fine folk at Left Films in August.

Synopsis: When Charlotte - a beautiful, broke student - is offered a job cat-sitting in a vast Georgian manor house over a long weekend, at £200 per night, she can't believe her luck, but her employers are far from being the harmless eccentrics that they appear to be. When darkness falls, things start to take a far more sinister turn. Charlotte is unable to shake the feeling that her every move is being watched and it is not long before her worst fears are confirmed: there is something evil in the house with her... 

The film stars Aisling Knight (Three's a Shroud, Exorcism) as Charlotte, with Richard Kilgour and Jill Buchanan (Containment, Heretiks) as the couple who leave her in charge of their house and cat. Special make-up effects by Karen Spencer (Suckablood, Doctor Who). Exorcism director Lance Patrick is executive producer.

Find out more at www.charlottewakes.co.uk