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)

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

A spread from my book

Here is a spread from my snappily titled forthcoming book, 21st Century British Horror Films Vol.1: Dog Soldiers and Doghouses (2000-2011).

It will be about 180 A4 pages, documenting 316 films released over that 12 year period.

And some sample entries:

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Trick or Treat

d. Ed Boase; w. Geraint Anderson; p. Geraint Anderson, Craig Kelly; cast: Craig Kelly, Dean Lennox Kelly, Maimie McCoy, Frances Barber, Shaun Parkes, Jamie Sives, Jessamine-Bliss Bell

The director of the impressive Blooded, terrible The Mirror and unreleased An American Exorcism does a solid job on this work-for-hire gig for city stockbroker Anderson. It’s a crime thriller with horror trappings, set in Blackpool on Halloween (technically the early hours of 1st November). Former gangster Greg (C Kelly: Corrie) is facing a mid-life crisis – wife, baby, 45th birthday – when his disreputable brother Dan (actual brother DL Kelly: Shameless) turns up with a dead body, followed by two gangsters looking for Dan. Greg is drawn back into a shady, dangerous, violent world he left behind but halfway through starts to doubt the reality of what he is experiencing, partly because of hallucinations which may be psychic ability or a remnant of the pill-popping raver youth he misses. Anderson’s script has some satisfying twists and turns, especially the end. A fine cast includes Kris Marshall as a copper, Jason Flemyng as a taxi driver and Hugo Speer as a comedian on TV. Maeve O’Connell’s great night-time cinematography captures Blackpool’s seedy underbelly perfectly.

Trick or Treat has a limited theatrical release on 25th October 2019 in cinemas in northwest England.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Witching Hour

d. Adam Evans; w. Neil Morris, Gary Smart; p. Chris Griffiths, Neil Morris, Adam Evans, Gary Smart, Stuart Conran; cast: Kenneth Cranham, Mark Wingett, Simon Bamford, Ian Gelder, Bruce Jones, Corin Silva, Jamila Martin-Wingett, Neil Cole, Gemma Gordon, Ethan McKinley

The fourth Dark Ditties film is the longest and in some ways the most conventional, although it becomes more complex as one considers connections to the other three. A cheesy paranormal investigation TV show films an episode in the same stately home where The Offer took place. On the verge of cancellation, psychic Marvin La’Fantome and cynical Selwyn Parsons have one last chance to recover their ratings – but a real supernatural danger lurks in the shadows for cast and crew. As ever, Morris and Smart’s script creates a set of unpleasant but fascinating characters, brought to life by an exemplary cast, both stock players and newcomers. Magnificent photography by Terrence Wilkins and Ben Halford, a beautiful score by American composer Sean Schafer Hennessy and of course Stuart Conran’s top-notch effects are all part of the hugely enjoyable Dark Ditties brand. Two further titles, Dad and Welcome to Upton, are promised for 2020.