Wednesday, 26 December 2018

All the new British horror films released in 2018

My master list contains 89 British horror features released during 2018. This is slightly down from last year's round-up, which I announced 12 months ago. (It was 107 films at the time but currently stands at 105 as I have discovered prior releases for a couple of titles). We’re still on course to hit a thousand films (since January 2000) sometime in the coming year.

So: 89 feature films. How many have you seen? How many have you heard of? I've managed to catch 38 of these so far.

As ever, I define a film as 'released in 2018' if this year saw the first chance for someone to watch the movie - whether in a cinema, on DVD, on demand or just posted on YouTube - without attending a special event. Some of these films played festivals or had other one-off screenings in 2017 or earlier years.)

Please let me know of anything I've missed, or any other corrections.

  • Abduction 2: Revenge of the Hive Queen (Mol Smith)
  • Anna and the Apocalypse (John McPhail)
  • Apostle (Gareth Evans)
  • Assassin's Revenge (Richard Driscoll)
  • Attack of the Adult Babies (Dominic Brunt)
  • Aura aka The Exorcism of Karen Walker (Steve Lawson)
  • Await Further Instructions (Johnny Kevorkian)
  • The Bad Nun (Scott Jeffrey)
  • The Black Gloves (Lawrie Brewster)
  • The Book of Birdie (Elizabeth E Schuch)
  • Boots on the Ground (Louis Melville)
  • Calibre (Matt Palmer)
  • Cannibal Farm aka Escape from Cannibal Farm (Charlie Steeds)
  • Caught (Jamie Patterson)
  • Charismata (Andy Collier, Toor Mian)
  • Condemned aka God’s Acre (JP Davidson)
  • Conspiracy X (Sam Mason Bell et al)
  • Curse of the Scarecrow aka Scarecrow Rising (Louisa Warren)
  • Curse of the Witch's Doll (Lawrence Fowler)
  • Dark Beacon (Corrie Greenop)
  • Dark Highlands (Mark Stirton)
  • Dark Vale (Jason MJ Brown)
  • Darkness Comes (David Newbigging)
  • The Demonic Doll aka The Demonic Tapes 2: The Doll (Richard Mansfield)
  • The Devil's Doorway (Aislinn Clarke)
  • Die Gest: Flesh Eater (Tony Newton et al)
  • Dogged (Richard Rowntree)
  • Dragon Kingdom aka Dark Kingdom (Simon Wells)
  • Fanged Up (Christian James)
  • The Ferryman (Elliott Maguire)
  • Fever aka Mountain Fever (Hendrik Faller)
  • Fox Trap aka Don’t Blink (Jamie Weston)
  • Fractured (Jamie Patterson)
  • Ghost Stories (Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson)
  • Gore Theatre (Sam Mason-Bell et al)
  • Grim Places (Jason Impey)
  • Grindhouse Nightmares (Richard Driscoll)
  • Habit (Simeon Halligan)
  • Halloween Hell Night (David Black et al)
  • Halloween in Hertford (Michael Curtis)
  • Harvest of the Dead (Peter Goddard)
  • Haunted 2: Apparitions (Steven M Smith)
  • Haunted 3: Spirits (Steven M Smith)
  • The Hell of Ween (Tom Stavely)
  • Home Videos (Jason Impey et al)
  • House of Salem (James Crow)
  • The House of Screaming Death (Alex Bourne et al)
  • The House of Violent Desire (Charlie Steeds)
  • The House on Mansfield Street (Richard Mansfield)
  • Jurassic Predator (Andrew Jones)
  • The Legend of Halloween Jack (Andrew Jones)
  • The Little Stranger (Lenny Abrahamson)
  • Mandy the Doll (Jamie Weston)
  • Maniacal (Sam Mason-Bell et al)
  • Mara (Clive Tonge)
  • Mask of Thorn (MJ Dixon)
  • Matriarch aka Mother (Scott Vickers)
  • Monochrome (Tom Lawes)
  • Monster (Matt Shaw)
  • Old Blood (Denise Channing)
  • Paranormal Farm 2: Closer to the Truth (Carl Medand)
  • Patient Zero (Stefan Ruzowitzky)
  • Polterheist (Paul Renhard, Dave Gilbank)
  • Possum (Matthew Holness)
  • Psychomanteum: Tales of the Dead (Ray Brady et al)
  • Pumpkins (Maria Lee Metheringham)
  • Recovery (Marcus Scott)
  • Redcon-1 (Chee Keong Cheung)
  • The Redeeming (Brian Barnes)
  • The Revenge of Robert (Andrew Jones)
  • The Same Circles (Mark Garvey)
  • Shadow of the Missing (Jamie Lee Smith)
  • Sin (Self Induced Nightmares) (Dan Brownlie et al)
  • Slaughterhouse Rulez (Crispian Mills)
  • The Snarling (Pablo Raybould)
  • The Spawning (Simon Riley)
  • Tone Death (John Hickman, Roger Armstrong)
  • Toxic Schlock (Sam Mason-Bell, Tony Newton)
  • Trash Arts: Killers Vol.1 (Sam Mason Bell et al)
  • Twenty Twenty-Four aka It Lives (Richard Mundy)
  • Virus of the Dead (Tony Newton et al)
  • The Wasting (Carolyn Saunders)
  • Webcast (Paul McGhie)
  • Welcome to Essex (Ryan J Fleming)
  • Welcome to Hell (Sam Mason Bell et al)
  • Where the Skin Lies (Michael Boucherie)
  • White Goods (Bazz Hancher)
  • Winterskin (Charlie Steeds)
  • Writers Retreat (Diego Rocha)

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Morticia


d./w./p. Nabil Shaban; cast: Jenni Young, Karen Douglas, Ricky Callan, Nabil Shaban, Sofie Alonzi, Dolina Maclennan, Andrew Dallmeyer, James Tennant

Interesting and worthwhile, despite low production values, Shaban’s only feature is a character study of a 12-year-old goth. Kylie, who prefers ‘Morticia’, is regarded as the local weirdo by children and adults alike. An able and intelligent child, her poetic school essay about wanting to become a vampire causes chaos when read out in class. She steals a paperback of Dracula from the library and reads it in a churchyard, then steals a bat from Edinburgh Zoo. Her bumptious mother and long-suffering father, a disabled Gulf War veteran, don’t know what to do with her. Eventually her romantic view of death is cracked by overhearing her dad talk about the women and children he was required to kill in Iraq. Right at the end, Dracula himself appears, probably a hallucination. Disabled actor Shaban (still fondly remembered for a role in 1980s Doctor Who) plays a psychologist. Night Kaleidoscope director Grant McPhee pops up in the credits as colourist. Shot in 2009, this premiered at a vampire film festival in October that year.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Virus of the Dead


d./w. various; p. Tony Newton; cast: Mhairi Calvey, Nathan Head and many, many more

Virus of the Dead could very well be the ultimate found footage zombie film. The 102 minutes is split into 30-odd fragments telling 22 nihilistic stories, all of which start out unhappy and conclude not much later bleakly and/or suddenly. There’s no first act of scene-setting normality, no strained “let’s film everything” justification. Everyone is either vainly filming their life when the undead attack or making a video message for posterity as ghoulish hordes scratch at the door. As a representation of a global society suddenly splintering into chaos and the immediate, arbitrary destruction of people’s lives, this is bang on the money. Though most of the segments are American, the project was conceived, curated, edited and produced by prolific anthologiser Newton, creator of Troma’s Grindsploitation series and co-creator of much of Trash Arts’ output. British contributors are Christopher Jolley (Whisper), Keiron Hollett (director of the unreleased Blood Curse), Dan Brownlie (Serial Kaller) and Newton himself. Return of the Living Dead 3 scripter John Penney and German trash legend Timo Rose also contribute segments. 

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Possum


d./w. Matthew Holness; p. Wayne Marc Godfrey, James Harris, Robert Jones, Mark Lane; cast: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb, Charlie Eales

The writer/star of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, the funniest British horror TV series ever made, makes his feature debut with an unremittingly grim and bleak tale of mental health problems and child abuse. Philip returns to the run-down house where he grew up with his uncle. Awkward, socially uncomfortable and probably with learning difficulties, Philip carries everywhere a leather bag containing Possum, a large, weird puppet combining a replica of Philip’s own head with long spider legs. Recurring attempts to destroy Possum come to nought, suggesting it might not be real (as may other aspects of the film). Short on dialogue and action, with long, semi-static sequences on featureless Norfolk beaches, this challenging feature is the unholy offspring of David Lynch and MR James. Holness adapted his own short story, written for an anthology of tales inspired by Freud’s essay on the uncanny. Shot in November 2017, this debuted in Edinburgh in June 2018. If you enjoy movies that no-one else you know likes, this could be for you. Music by the Radiophonic Workshop!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The House on Mansfield Street


d./w./p. Richard Mansfield; cast: Matthew Hunt, Kathryn Redwood, Daniel Mansfield

When Richard Mansfield upped sticks from London to Nottingham, he incorporated the move into this zero-budget found footager which is vastly better than most comparable films. Hunt is believable and likeable as Nick, a video maker who keeps his hand in with a documentary about his new house in the couple of weeks before starting his new day-job. The Victorian terraced cottage, which is Mansfield’s own (actually on Mansfield Street) has the curious bumps and creaks one might expect from any vintage house, but the weirdness on show gradually increases to moved furniture and eventually actual figures, caught on Nick’s motion-capture security camera. Editing the footage together, he looks for a rational explanation but can’t find one. A pleasant but slightly creepy tarot-reading neighbour doesn’t help. With excellent use of split screen and some nice location work around Nottingham city centre and on the city’s trams, this is another fine slice of James-ian horror from the Mansfield Dark label that will leave you genuinely creeped out.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Assassin’s Revenge

d./w./p. Richard Driscoll; cast: Steven Craine, Michael Madsen, Patrick Bergin, Bai Ling, Eileen Daly, Rebecca Lynley

Released less than a year after Grindhouse Nightmares, Driscoll’s seventh feature is a rambling, crime-action-noir-horror-superhero-vigilante hodgepodge with all the narrative coherence of a trailer compilation. Madsen (seen only in stock driving footage and one scene with Bergin) is an ex-cop hunting down millionaire psycho William Bard (Driscoll/Craine) who becomes Joker rip-off ‘The Comedian’ after his face is slashed. Bergin is a corrupt New York Mayor; Ling is an exotic dancer who springs Bard from jail; Lynley is Bard’s mother in a Batman rip-off flashback – and Daly is Elizabeth Bathory (or ‘Bathroy’ – inconsistent character names abound). Her irrelevant extended cameo – bathing in either milk or virgin’s blood – is bizarre, even by the standards of a film which seems to change style and plot every five minutes. Some scenes consist almost entirely of badly drawn comic panels with misspelled captions. Stealing ideas/imagery from Kick-Ass, Suicide Squad and especially Sin City, this was filmed (as The Black Knight) in Cornwall and Sheffield in January 2017 with a few green-screen days in LA. With Steve Munroe as a pimp, a teacher named Mary Shelley, a random raven death and Driscoll reciting the opening monologue from Richard III. But no assassins. Sequel The Kamikaze Squad is threatened at the end.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Dark Highlands


d./w. Mark Stirton; p. Michael G Clark; cast: Junichi Kajioka, Steve Campbell, Fraser Napier, Aria Morrison-Blyth, Barry Thackrey, Alistair Richie, Lucy Philip, Mark Wyness, Mike Mitchell

Largely devoid of dialogue, this impressive game of cat and mouse plays out against the stunning vistas of the Cairngorms and offers something more than just a psycho stalker. UK-based Japanese actor Kajioka plays an unnamed artist who hikes into the Scottish wilds to camp and paint the landscape. He is targeted by ‘the Gamekeeper’, a masked and bekilted nemesis armed with a range of firearms, an RC drone and an unseen (for reasons which become clear but are, to be honest, fairly obvious) dog. Though never explained, a splash panel prologue suggests there is some supernatural element to the Gamekeeper who pursues his quarry at one inexplicable remove, taking him down each night with a tranquiliser dart and even erecting his tent. There’s all sorts of weirdness going on here, lifting what could easily have been a formulaic thriller into gripping, scary, mind-scrambling horror territory. Brian Cox provides brief name-value narration. Stirton and producer/DP Clark previously made ambitious sci-fi epic The Planet and black comedy One Day Removals.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Enchantress

d./w. Ian Lewis; p. Ian Lewis, Melloney Rolfe; cast: Nicholas Ball, Olivia Llewellyn, Sam Hudson, Julian Shaw, Johanne Murdock, Cark Kirshner, Alexandra Legouix, James Simmons, Nika Khitrova, Abigail McKern

Curious second feature from the director of Children of the Lake. Ball (Hazell to viewers of a certain age) plays stage magician Merlin who may be the real thing. For the first hour this is a local politics drama about plans for a new estate involving a corrupt councillor, a dodgy builder and a juvenile delinquent trying to save his gran’s house – all of whom want Merlin’s magical help. The titular enchantress is Merlin’s stepson’s girlfriend Vivianne (Llewellyn: Mina Harker in Penny Dreadful) who returns from India, announcing that her boyfriend Davie died in a bus crash. In the final act this takes a turn into Monkey’s Paw territory with Vivianne persuading Merlin to bring back Davie, plus assorted deaths and two characters turned into gerbils! Technically fine with a decent cast of TV actors, the film’s main problem is that it just takes too long to become interesting. Shot in 2010 as The Death of Merlin, this premiered in Houston in April 2013.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Children of the Lake

d./w./p. Ian Lewis; cast: Abigail McKern, Eleanor Howell, Ben Cartwright, Charlotte Ammerlaan, Anita Elias, Kevin Analuwa, Yvonne Riley

Intriguing and original ghost story bolstered by some strong acting which more than makes up for a few cut-price visual effects. Joanne and Nick are small-time crooks running a fake psychic/burglary racket who need to hide somewhere when a victim’s son rumbles them. Abandoning their car, they find an isolated house beside a lake. This is home to young, confident Naiad and Queenie, who is convinced that Joanne is her long-lost daughter. The complex story involves a portal to another realm, with Joanne an intrinsic part of the tale and Nick the sceptical mortal caught up in it all. Two ghostly children pop up occasionally. The gradual build-up of spookiness is well-handled in Lewis’ script and direction, with all three leads taking the material seriously. Rumpole offspring McKern is particularly good as the enigmatic Queenie. Lewis’ only other feature was the equally obscure Enchantress. Originally released on the now defunct Indiereign website in June 2008, this has been unavailable for some years and deserves another chance.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Toxic Schlock


d./w. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; p. Tony Newton, Sam Mason Bell; cast: Martin W Payne, Cindy Valentine, Simon Berry, Chris Mills, Rebecca Rolph, Sam Mason-Bell

A very, very, very strange film, Toxic Schlock promises zombies but they only appear (pretty much out of nowhere) in the last 20 minutes. Three eco-terrorists hole up in an isolated beach-front guest-house owned by an unconvincing transvestite and a squeaky-voiced child-woman (with a Scooby-Doo gimp chained up downstairs). The Seaside Strangler – a naked, clown-faced serial killer – is at large. Too much time is spent on long, talkie scenes that play like comedy sketches without actually being funny. Every so often a new character enters and announces their identity like a bad stage thriller. Eventually the zombies appear and the child-woman turns, without explanation, into a cross between Harley Quinn and The Bride, leading to a largely wordless, stylish, chambara-influenced last five minutes – vastly different to (and better than) anything that has gone before. Distributed by Troma, with Uncle Lloyd and former Michael J Murphy associate Phil Lyndon providing radio announcer voices. Filmed in Clacton and Southsea in 2017.
  • Available to watch on TromaNow

Friday, 31 August 2018

The Bad Nun


d./w. Scott Jeffrey; p. Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca J Matthews; cast: Becca Hirani, Thomas Mailand, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Mika Hockman, Cassandra French, Patsy Prince, Lucy Chappell

Passable slasher from Proportion Productions with an original, if unconvincing, plot held up by a brace of strong performances. Aesha (Hirani, aka producer Matthews, formerly Becky Fletcher) is sent by her mum to stay in an isolated B&B run by cheery Dan. He goes out for the night, leaving Aesha in charge of an unseen poorly daughter. Later, a nun comes knocking at the door but Aesha is sensibly reluctant to let a stranger into a house that’s not hers. The nun’s identity is screamingly obvious from the start (well, not the very start – there’s a 12-minute splash panel prologue) and since she evidently has access to the house, it’s unclear why she spends so long asking to be let in. Nevertheless, these scenes of Aesha talking through the front door are the tense, uncomfortable heart of the film. The distinctly wobbly story (and some frustrating continuity errors) are ameliorated by good photography and sound and Lee Olivier-Hall’s tense score. Originally announced as Knock Knock, it was filmed in March 2018 as The Watcher.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Craving


d./w. Christian Edwards; p. Tom Richards; cast: Mark Grinham, Julie Gilmour, Steve Garry, Lauren Pressdee, Victoria Hopkins, Nick Stoppani, Les Richards, Marysia Kay, Christian Edwards, Amelia Tyler, Penny Bond, Jason Impey, Alexander Bakshaev

Shot in June 2008 with a bundle of recognisable names and faces, Edwards’ only film nevertheless managed to remain in complete obscurity for a decade before coming to accidental light. Hopkins is half of an Anglo-Aussie couple whose relationship is in trouble. Her philandering hubby is preyed on by a vampire whore and her human pimp but escapes, though not without taking a bite and suffering the effects. The film’s biggest problem is that it’s never clear which is the main story: the breaking-up couple or the tragic vampire (Gilmour) who has some good dialogue on the loneliness of immortality. Kay is a nurse tending to the guy’s ill father; Impey and Bakshaev have cameos as earlier victims. Music by Preteneratural helmer Gav Chuckie Steel. Shot in black and white and (bizarrely) what appears to be Academy ratio, this was released on YouTube in July 2011 as a seven-episode serial.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Vampire Controller


d./w./p. Simon Black; cast: Mark Blackwell, Martin Daniels, Vera Bremerton, Tasha Wilton, Simon Boswell, Johnny No, Sophia Disgrace, Thomas Williamson, Suzy Wong, Katerina Samoilis

Not listed on IMDB, barely even findable on Google, never reviewed anywhere and only released in a limited run of 100 DVDs sold through eBay, this 54-minute sub-feature – the bastard stepchild of Jean Rollin and Cradle of Filth – is arguably the most obscure British vampire film ever released. A Lugosi-esque black magician (Daniels, also credited with the original idea) orders two female acolytes (singer Bremerton and performer Wilton) – who we only know are vampires because we’ve read the sleeve – to seduce, kidnap and abuse a priest (Blackwell). That’s about it as far as plot goes, with director Black (A Girl) more interested in imagery and sound. Artsy and gothic, this manages to be both impressionist and expressionist and would probably function better as a video installation in a gallery or nightclub rather than as a narrative feature. Composer Boswell (Lord of Illusions, Dust Devil) plays a Monseigneur in occasional cutaways, with model/performer Disgrace (Spidarlings) as his cleaning lady. The discordant soundtrack features cuts from Noise Collector, Salapakappa Sound System, Serpentina, Silencide and others.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Killer Gimps


d./w./p. Jason Impey, Kieran Johnstone; cast: Jason Impey, Kieran Johnstone, Martin W Payne, Mathis Vogel, Amber Lee, Sammie Lei, Murdo Yule, Max Todd, Katie Johnson , Kaz B

Shared flatpack anthology with each director helping the other in various capacities on both sides of the camera. Kieran’s segments are Underworld: The Dark Web (mockdoc of policeman investigating body parts smuggling), Disorder (newly pregnant policeman’s wife raped and murdered by man in gimp costume), Boxing Day (Yuletide found footage), Nightman (gasmask-wearing killer murders policemen, with Slasher House director MJ Dixon as an additional victim) and two brief vignettes. Jason contributes Two Tales of Terror (brace of faux silent movies, incorporating footage from Sick Bastard), Lust (woman fucks skeleton then gives herself home abortion in the bath), Inner Voice (bulimia) and Gimp. This last, in which Impey plays himself (he says he’s working on Troubled), has an undead gimp take revenge on a sleazy film distributor who has dressed as a Nazi officer to entrap a dominatrix(!). Repeated use of actors and locations (mostly the director’s homes) give this an almost Twilight Zone weirdness. First released on limited VHS in September 2017 (minus Inner Voice) as Necrophiliac and the Killer Gimps, it popped up - retitled and expanded - on DVD the following March.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Aura

d./w. Steve Lawson; p. Jonathon Sothcott, Richard Watts-Joyce; cast: Shane Taylor, Janine Nerissa Sothcott, Rula Lenska, Denise Moreno, Jay Sutherland, Steven Dolton

Mitch and Diane, an Anglo-American couple with a baby on the way, move into a house inherited from Mitch’s creepy uncle, despite the disapproval of his fundamentalist Christian mother. Old ‘Kirlian’ photographs inspire Mitch to rescue his long-incarcerated sister from an asylum. The actual ‘aura’ schtick is somewhat underused and largely incidental to what is, rather, a commendably solid tale of demonic possession – bolstered by a great turn from Lenska as a psychic trying to dispel the evil presence. For the first product from his Hereford Horror label, Sothcott offered capable microbudget helmer Lawson (Hellriser, Killersaurus – but not Dead Cert) a step up the budget ladder. Lawson still uses his restrictions well, with limited cast and locations, but better actors and an actual crew (and a set that isn’t a Loughborough lock-up!) allow him to concentrate on fluid camera-work and smooth performances. Moreno is particularly creepy as the sister. Lawson regular Dolton plays the uncle in a prologue. Shot in the USA in December 2017. Sothcott and Lawson swiftly reteamed for Pentagram.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Apocalyptic Horror

d./w./p. Mike Tack; cast: Keith Eyles, Darren Steer, Richard Nock, Clive Ashenden, Kyle Parke, Neil Martin, Louise Tack, Geoff Brotherton, Ryan Parke, Adam Rabbit, Sam Hall, Darran Duglan

Don’t expect zombies in this impressive flatpack anthology – the title references Tack’s production company, Apocalyptic Conservatory Studios. The first of seven shorts is the weakest: eight minutes of torture porn with a weak gag pay-off. Then a customer takes violent revenge on a dodgy car salesman; a Government minister is a literal demon; and a scarecrow avenges an old man, killed on his allotment. Story 5 is an impressive expansion of no.2, revising our sympathies and featuring some startling gangster violence. This is followed by an honest-to-goodness werewolf western (partly shot on a Colorado dude ranch) and finally a documentary about a horror cosplayer. Each short has full credits; copyrights range 2013-2016 and running times 4-16 minutes. Production values are remarkably high, especially in the western tale which features steam trains and horses, and Tack’s rep company are all solidly capable. But it’s Tim Richards’ top-notch gore effects which really stand out, giving this an enjoyably nasty 1980s vibe at times.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

It Lives


d./w./p. Richard Mundy; cast: Andrew Kinsler, Peter McCrohon

This terrific psychological horror/sci-fi feature about an isolated man interacting with a creepy AI brings to mind the more unsettling parts of 2001. In 2024, Roy is a lone technician managing a nuclear bunker in readiness for the arrival of selected individuals when needed. His only companion is Arthur, a computer that passes the Turing Test in its text screen conversations (avoiding a cheesy voice was an excellent decision). When the balloon goes up and no-one arrives before the doors lock, Roy finds himself trapped with an apparently sentient Arthur and some unexplained events. Paranoia understandably sets in: is he losing his mind, or not alone, or being manipulated by an electronic monster? Perhaps the whole ‘bunker’ scenario is fake and he’s just some psychological lab rat. Kinsler delivers a blistering, award-worthy solo performance, accentuated by great sets/locations (I recognised the Gosport Submarine Museum!) and Nick Barker’s cracking photography. Shot over three and a half years, this premiered at the BIFF in May 2016 under its original title Twenty Twenty-Four. The new title has major relevance and anyway, there are already two British horror films called The Bunker…

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Football horror 2: Sphere of Fear

d./w./p. John Mitchell; cast: Chris Ball Hero, Ann Maddern, Ben Carroll, Kung Fu Tony, Hugh Pincott, Spooky Lee Norton, Jonathan Lea, Warren Baker, Chris Woodward, Louis Thomsen

There’s a real Attack of the Killer Tomatoes vibe to the straight-faced silliness of this amateur comedy about a demonic football… which sadly squanders whatever naïve charm it can muster by running a soul-sapping 135 minutes. Some Satanists curse a football which keeps landing in their garden and it then goes on a killing spree. Loser Dylan sets out to destroy the ball after being visited by the ghost of his brother, one of the first victims. He is helped by a goth chick (the only decent actor) and hindered by a camo-clad hunter (two planks of wood). Day/night continuity is just something that happens to other films apparently, but the ball’s animation – throwing/rolling it from offscreen plus judicious editing – works surprisingly well, and a few moments are genuinely funny (“Now stop wanking and avenge my death.”). Shot around Plymouth over six years for £300, this screened at a festival in New York in June 2014.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Football Horror 1: Kick

d./w. Marcus Warren; p. Nick Hocart; cast: Daniel Bayle, Rik Young, Richard Strange, Pete Lee Wilson, Kellie Shirley, Steve Lorrigan

Two friends find themselves locked in a building overnight with a deadly killer. This film’s unique take on that well-worn premise is that the building is a Premier League football stadium, where Dan and Steve took part in an unauthorised fan match orchestrated by a corrupt security guard. When they’re not out by ten, they find doors locked, corridors unlit and a couple of dead bodies that leave them in no doubt they’re in danger. Remarkably, this accurate take on the British passion for soccer was written and directed by an American. Young is particularly good as Dan, a dirty player on the pitch who can’t be relied on off it. Commendably taut at just 76 minutes, this doesn’t overstay its welcome, nor does it feel the need to explain everything. Filmed in 2012 at the homes of Doncaster and Leyton Orient, with some exteriors at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Kick premiered at a film festival in Florida one week before its German release. It remains inexplicably unavailable in the UK.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Demonic Tapes 2: The Doll


d./w. Richard Mansfield; p. Richard Mansfield, Daniel Mansfield; cast: Jennie Fox, Darren Munn, Daniel Mansfield

Mansfield Dark rides the current ‘creepy doll’ wave with this unnerving James-ian ghost story which, if anything, suffers slightly from under-using its off-the-shelf creepy doll. Single mum Rose, enjoying a week of solitude while the kids are with their dad, discovers a Walkman and some cassettes in her cellar which prove to be recordings of a psychologist interviewing a possessed child. There are two spirits at work, ‘Socks’ and ‘Mr Sheets’, although the story is unclear about their relationship. Fox is terrific in the lead role, her long hair and wide eyes evoking memories of 1970s horror victims, not least Shelley Duval in The Shining. Mansfield Dark regular Munn is the handsome young vicar who helps her; we’re left to wonder whether the sexual tension between the two has contributed to the supernatural situation. As usual, Richard Mansfield wrings fear from simple effects: a door opening, a duvet lifting, an indistinct figure in a white sheet. Originally released in February 2018 as The Demonic Doll, this shares a basic premise and location with Mansfield Dark's most successful movie so was retitled as an ersatz sequel in June.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Mrs Wiltshire


d./w. Neil Morris, Gary Smart; p. Neil Morris, Gary Smart, Christopher Griffiths, Stuart Conran; cast: Doris MF Bohnam, Bruce Jones, Stanley Rawlings, Simon Bamford, Ray Skeemer

In 2017 Gary Smart, creator of books and documentaries on various 1980s horror classics, began making narrative films under the banner ‘Dark Ditties’. The Offer, a 48-minute sub-feature reuniting several Hellraiser cast including Bamford and Jones, was followed by this extraordinarily powerful social/supernatural horror. It’s essentially an extended monologue by an old lady, clearly suffering from dementia so that we’re never certain how much of what she experiences is real. Over the course of 65 expertly-judged minutes, we learn about her husband and what he did to her, and to their two children. Her son pleads with her to leave the house full of bad memories while her husband’s angry ghost bullies her into staying. Northern lower middle class pride melds with twisted supernatural fear in a superb production that feels like John Carpenter directing an Alan Bennett script. Terrific prosthetics by make-up legend Conran are the finishing touch on what is actually an important film about domestic abuse. Sit through the credits for a surprise. Finders Keepers will be next.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Howling


d./w. Steven M Smith; p. Steven M Smith, Paul G Andrews; cast: Maria Austin, Jon-Paul Gates, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Hans Hernke, Tony Fadil, Eirik Knutsvik, Elizabeth Saint, Jeremy Hill

Though it still has faults (not least the ridiculous, distributor-mandated title), this Universal homage is easily Smith’s best feature to date with moments that are genuinely impressive. Three friends searching for legendary mad scientist Rathbone and his rumoured coterie of monsters find what they’re looking for and soon regret it. Though promoted as a Frankenstein/werewolf mash-up this owes more to Dr Moreau. Its biggest strength is Alex Harrison’s corking monochrome photography (with occasional well-judged colour moments), evoking the post-Universal, pre-Hammer Euro-style of Freda or Franju. A superb sequence of Rathbone re-animating his disfigured wife then dancing with an idealised fantasy version of her leads into a brief but beautiful Bava-esque nightmare as an accidental witness (Robinson, who is just fantastic) runs past caged experiments. On the downside, the script is full of narrative gaps and unexplained motivations, and Gates’ accent provokes unintended giggles, wobbling between Bela Lugosi and Colonel Klink. End theme by Dr and the Medics, with a cameo by lead singer Clive Jackson.


Friday, 25 May 2018

Home Videos


d./w./p. various; cast: Jason Impey, Jessica Hunt, Martynna Madej, Martin W Payne, Donna Hamblin, Luc Bernier, Kieran Johnston, Daiane Azura, Dean Allem, Clare Crumpton, Simon London, Suzy Weatherall, Adam Jones

This found footage flatpack anthology from Trash Arts is distinguished by Jason Impey’s contribution ‘Case 019684’ which takes up most of the first half-hour. Stock footage of Impey as his ‘Jack Hess’ snuff film-maker character is combined with clips from his parents’ home movies, documenting Jason/Jack’s life from baby to boy to accomplished and busy indie horror film-maker/psychopath. The result is an extraordinary quasi-auto-biopic, structurally somewhere between Boyhood and The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, which deserves to be extended to feature length. The remaining 60 minutes is the usual mishmash, the highlights being Sam Mason Bell’s ‘Scratchy Eyes’ (which uniquely manages to misspell its own title!), an effective silent, fake super-8 film of an 8th birthday with a creepy supernatural clown lurking at the back of shot; Stephen Longhurst’s ‘The Watcher’, a short, rural take on The Last Horror Movie; and Adam Jones’ vampire sketch ’The Interview’. Other contributions either drag on far too long or are barely there at all.

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Shadow of Bigfoot


d./w./p. Philip Mearns; cast: Ben Shockley, Joe Simmonds, Keith Eyles, Hugo Myatt, John Rackham, James Payton, Kirsty Cox, Maria Thomas, Lindsay Groves

True to the title, this micro-budget chiller sensibly restricts the eponymous cryptid to ominous shadows and the occasional glimpse of fur. Two believers and one sceptic head into the forests of North Carolina where the most obsessive of the trio shoots a sasquatch, determined to claim its carcass as proof, after which the humans are prey to a tribe of vengeful hominids. Although the forest exteriors could be anywhere, the opening scenes in an ‘American’ university are so obviously UK-set as to be borderline surreal. A brief glimpse of a US police car is the only clue (apart from some distinctly variable accents!) that we’re supposed to be in the States. The film’s strength lies in the performances as personal bonds break down in the face of imminent brutal death. Ostensibly intended as ‘tongue in cheek’ – which doesn’t really come across – you’ll either enjoy this as a solid cryptozoology adventure or mock its cheapness, although there are many far, far worse bigfoot movies than this. Shot in Kent in 2012. You can watch it for free on YouTube.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Fear2000 Powerpoint and handout

A few weeks ago I delivered a presentation at the Fear2000 academic horror conference at Sheffield Hallam University.

My paper, 'Horror Beyond Measure: The Exponential Rise of British Horror Cinema', was a statistical analysis of UK horror cinema production and release since January 2000. I can't deny: I was very pleased with how well it was received, especially as everyone there were clever academics and I'm just a marketing dweeb/ex-journalist.

I have recorded an audio version of the Powerpoint, which is now available to download from Scribd, along with a PDF of the handout I produced.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Dark Matter


d./w./p. Mol Smith; cast: Dominic O’Flynn, Gina Purcell, Jamie-Jodie Shanks, Sharon Lawrence, Mel Mills

This creepy, trippy sci-fi horror was the promising directorial debut of the writer-producer behind Tainted Love. Scientist James, taking time out to recover from losing his wife in a car crash, finds a meteorite in his garden and receives strange downloads on his PC. Using these – and a bathtub of hot water – he somehow creates a mysterious young woman who must be taught from scratch like an infant but learns very quickly. His friend and former colleague Valerie has some secrets of her own, including a teenage abortion. A blue guy later appears from the same bathtub while James experiences horrifying visions of his wife’s death and frequent ‘timeslips’ to other realities, including one where he and Valerie are married with kids. There are CGI spaceships in orbit because ‘dark matter’ has destroyed their home galaxy, or something. Frankly, if you can figure out the mind-scrambling third act you’re doing better than me. Smith acknowledged his debt to A for Andromeda, which is more than the makers of Species ever did.


Friday, 20 April 2018

Ghost Stories


d./w. Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman; p. Claire Jones, Robin Gutch; cast: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Ghost Stories was a popular success based on a name cast, the reputation of Dyson and Nyman’s West End play, and a massive marketing budget. When finally watched however, it’s an embarrassing disappointment: a swirling morass of clichés and jump scares belaboured with a staggeringly terrible score and topped by the most underwhelming, unimaginative ‘twist’ since The Others. Touted as an Amicus-style anthology, it’s nothing of the sort. Nyman (co-writer of much of Derren Brown’s work) plays Goodman, a professional sceptic challenged to solve three ‘unexplainable’ cases (by a heavily made up actor we’re not supposed to recognise). He interviews three people and we see their stories as flashback vignettes, but since there’s no material evidence to any of them there’s nothing unexplainable. The last act goes off on a tangent about Goodman’s own childhood traumas before ‘explaining’ everything (or rather, showing nothing needs explaining) with a revelation that is at least 98 years old. Shot in Yorkshire, it premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2017. Sigh.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Ferryman


d./w./p. Elliott Maguire cast: Nicola Holt, Garth Maunders, Pamela Ashton, Shobi Rae Mclean, Frank Mathews, Azz Mohammed, Philip Scott-Shurety

Bleak and miserabilist (in a good way), The Ferryman is the sort of dour, oppressive horror that the UK does so much better than anywhere else. After her mother’s death, Mara attempts suicide and subsequently finds herself living with the father she never knew whom she initially hates (and who confusingly only looks about ten years older than her). Two further bizarre deaths – one off-screen, one very gory one on-screen – shatter Mara’s already fragile mental state, a situation compounded by necessary police questioning. She’s being stalked (or thinks she is, at any rate) by a personification of the Greek ferryman Charon, although it’s not really clear why. Well-directed and acted, the photography and lighting give no clue that this was shot on an iPhone although the sound suffers occasionally. Maguire boosted his on-screen production values by blagging access to a TV studio in Manchester via his day-job as a security guard on the Coronation Street set. Not to be confused with the identically titled 2007 Anglo-Kiwi sea-bound soul-swap psycho shocker.


Saturday, 24 March 2018

White Goods


d. Bazz Hancher; w. Bazz Hancher, Richard Robotham; p. Bazz Hancher, Michael Walcott; cast: Bazz Hancher, Richard Robotham, Adam Woodhouse, Mark Lee Jones, James JT Taylor, Vicki Clarke, Tom Rutter, James Underwood

This decidedly non-PC, sub-Troma, amateur horror comedy won’t be to everyone’s taste, but among the tired jokes about queers, trannies and toilets are some genuinely clever moments that will make you spit out your tea with delight. A dim-witted cowboy electrician becomes possessed by a demon when he helps a TV psychic (punk legend turned Brit horror regular Jones) stage a séance. Everyone he subsequently visits is killed by electrical equipment, most notably an impressive death-by-tumble-drier. The acting is as bad as the wigs but there’s a cheesy charm to the picture and surprisingly acceptable production values including some basic CGI. Hancher previously made numerous shorts (collected on DVD as Blast from the Past and Films from a Broken Mind) and a documentary feature about a local pub. With Feast for the Beast director Rutter as one of the séance participants, a fourth wall-breaking narrator, and a demonic clown at the end. Filmed in Kidderminster in April 2016.


Thursday, 22 March 2018

Egomaniac


d./w. Kate Shenton; p. Kate Shenton, Sidney Malik; cast: Nic Lamont, Adam Rhys-Davies, David Wayman, Simeon Willis, Laurence R Harvey, Dan Palmer, Loren O’Brien

A whip-smart script, a rock-steady lead performance, a solid supporting cast of genre vets and a jet-black streak of righteous cynicism make this a must-see for fans (and makers) of indie horror. Director Catherine wants to follow her documentary debut with a zombie horror romantic comedy but must negotiate a bullshitting producer, inappropriate actors and a sleazy executive who looks like Harvey Weinstein (though this July 2015 production predates his fall from grace). Fantasy sequences see Catherine converse with her zombie lead character while she struggles with demands to write a talking dog into her script. Eventually she snaps; an effective bloody finale slightly undone by an unnecessary splash panel prologue. Unlike Le Fear and its sequel, this accurately depicts how independent film-making really works (or doesn’t). Premiering at Frightfest 2016, Egomaniac was championed by Lawrie Brewster (Lord of Tears) who released it on YouTube as the debut title in his ‘Hex Presents’ series. Before that, it was apparently available on Amazon as Hollywood Patriarchy vs My Movie!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Watcher Self


d./w./p. Matt Cruse; cast: Karen French, Julian Shaw, Sylvia Seymour, Lucy Charles, Tony Stansfield, Helen Barford

Cruse’s debut feature is the cinematic equivalent of the Sahara Desert: impressive, even magnificent, but also bleak, featureless and thoroughly impenetrable. French gives an astounding performance as Cora, a woman who goes about her daily life even as her mind falls apart. Think of Cronenberg-ian body horror, but in a mental health sense. She goes to her office job, cleans the house, phones her brother, visits her mother and occasionally picks up one-night stands, one of whom becomes a regular lover though she knows nothing about him. Right at the start we get a glimpse of the aftermath of something violent, then spend the next 94 minutes piecing together what might have happened. Which is difficult because clearly some of this is in Cora’s mind (and other things may possibly be shown in non-chronological order). Despite its seemingly pedestrian narrative, there is undeniable tension throughout, helped by French’s taciturn performance and Lewis Clark’s astute sound design. Some people will love this, others will hate it, but almost no-one will fully understand it. Available to view on demand via the website.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Dark Beacon

d. Corrie Greenop; w. Lee Apsey, Corrie Greenop; p. Lee Apsey, Corrie Greenop, Tansi Inayat; cast: April Pearson, Lynne Anne Rodgers, Kendra Mei, Toby Osmond, Jon Campling, Jimmy Allen

Greenop’s second feature has much in common with his debut Wandering Rose (aka Demon Baby): limited cast, stunning locations, a studied avoidance of cliché, and an undeniable air of tension that builds throughout towards an explosive climax. Single mother Beth is raising her mute daughter Maya (a staggeringly mature performance by Mei) in an isolated lighthouse. Her former colleague and lover Amy tracks them down, seeking answers to Beth’s sudden disappearance. There’s a shadowy figure out on the rocks: is it Beth’s not-so-late husband, or his ghost, or some other threat, or something innocent? The script and direction are both subtle without being understated, gradually revealing the character’s relationships and back-stories. Cinematographer Haider Zafar gets full mileage out of the Jersey location, abetted by some gorgeous drone shots. Fan favourite Campling, usually surrounded by vampires or zombies, has a rare chance to demonstrate his naturalistic acting in a fine cameo as a doctor.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Grindhouse Nightmares

d./w./p. Richard Driscoll; cast: Linnea Quigley, Michael Madsen, Steve Munroe, Lorna Bliss, Danny Lopez, Vass Anderson, Robin Askwith, Rebecca Linley, Brigitte Nielsen

It’s that man again, with 74 minutes of non-stop WTF. In 2011, Richard Driscoll had the idea of ripping off the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double bill with Grindhouse 2wo and swiftly shot footage for two stories: Manhunt and Stripper with a Shotgun, announcing a February 2012 release date. Six years later, after a spell in prison followed by failed attempts to crowdfund his long-gestating Blade Runner rip-off and his own take on Suicide Squad, Driscoll dug out the footage and released it. Manhunt is a Saw rip-off with Munroe chained to a wall and Anderson as the voice of his captor. Incoherent flashbacks are footage of young Munroe in Driscoll’s incoherent 1985 film The Comic. Stripper…, which stars Britney Spears impersonator Bliss as a stripper in a nun's habit, is built around unused footage from Eldorado including the excised Brigitte Nielsen scene which would have preceded her version of ‘Respect’. Inbetween are fake trailers and commercials including footage from Eldorado, Kannibal and the unreleased, variously titled Evil Calls sequel, plus some cartoons and some puppets. The whole thing is hosted by a wild-eyed Quigley, looking like a 150-year-old meth addict and obviously reading from cue cards (Linnea Quigley’s Grindhouse Nightmares was an unused alternative title). Rik Mayall, Buster Bloodvessel and Bill Moseley are credited for non-speaking stock footage appearances but curiously ‘Steven Craine’ is nowhere to be seen.

The new Richard Driscoll film is here!

...and I finally found a copy of his forgotten war film on VHS on Ebay!


Sunday, 25 February 2018

Industrial Animals

d. Sam Mason Bell; w./p. Sam Mason Bell, Tamsin Howland; cast: Sam Mason Bell, Tamsin Howland, Thomas J Davenport

Distributed by Troma but a long way from Tromaville, this disturbing, transgressive hour-long feature stands thematic comparison with Fluid Boy or The Hell Experiment. Director Ellis and cameraman Owens hire a prostitute for three days, interviewing her and filming Ellis partaking of her services, all for a putative documentary. She says they can do anything with her and go as far as they want, but how far is far enough, or too far? The film explores notions of abuse, power, vulnerability, dominance, submission, (mis)trust and misogyny, with both Bell and Howland going beyond the call of duty as actors. Ten minutes from the end, it takes an unexpected new direction which is at one and the same time more horrific and also more comforting – because it’s weirdly less transgressive. Mostly found footage, seen through Owens’ DSLR, although that is abandoned towards the end without detriment. Some of the less clear dialogue is subtitled, albeit with numerous typos. Entirely made by the three actors except for the score and impressive sound design.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Holly Kane Experiment

d. Tom Sands; w. Mick Sands; p. Tom Sands, Phil Harris; cast: Kirsty Averton, Nicky Henson, James Rose, Lindsey Campbell, Carl Gower, Simon Hepworth

An unengaging and unsatisfying film with an unclear plot and unsympathetic characters, this mind control conspiracy thriller from the writing/directing team of Sands pere et fils is at least considerably better than the dire Nazi Vengeance. Holly Kane is a hypnotherapist whose research into… something involves a flotation tank and a cocktail of unspecified hallucinogens provided by a friend. Her work is unexpectedly bankrolled by a smooth but creepy old guy who covertly works for the Government and overtly wants to get into her pants (in scenes that are uncomfortably rapey). None of the unlikeable characters have a clear goal; we don’t know what they’re trying to do so don’t care whether they achieve it. The hokey scifi dialogue includes talk of ‘clinical trials’ but the film-makers don’t seem to know what that means. Shot in October 2015 in London and Brighton, with scenes in the Royal Pavilion and on a cross-Channel ferry.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Red Kiss

d./w. Nigel Wingrove; p. Robin Woodgate; cast: Chantelle, Laura St Claire, Belladomma

Largely plotless hardcore lesbian vampire fetish feature of principal interest as a rare directorial credit for Salvation Films head honcho Wingrove (Sacred Flesh). Two girls in PVC outfits meet in a nightclub then go to a room full of cobwebs for a 25-minute G/G session. One cuts her hand which awakens a vampire dominatrix downstairs. She takes the brunette off for some BDSM then does the same with blondie. Then she takes them back upstairs and watches them basically repeat the first scene. Finally she cuts her wrist and dribbles blood into their mouths (and on their tits) before a G/G/G session to round things off. An epilogue has the two girls waking up, thinking it was a dream, then sprouting fangs and lunging onto a passing bloke. Shot in one day in 2004. Wingrove’s attempts to be slightly arty are frankly wasted here. Music by Band of Pain and Bent USA. Not on IMDB. A bizarre third BDSM sequence halfway through features the blonde and a girl dressed entirely in bin liners and carrier bags. Released on DVD in the Netherlands and Germany in 2007.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Dead and Awake

d./w. Alexander Fodor; p. Paul Allan-Slade, Kevin Phelan, Parvez Zabier; cast: Funda Onal, Jason Wing, Ian Alexander, Ryan Ebling, Renate Morley, Emmy Proctor, Bruce Wang, Carmen Coupeau Borras, Nadira Murray

Stunningly confident and accomplished, this stylish, intriguing, gripping horror feature should be much, much better known. When her car (with dead husband in the boot) breaks down, a young woman finds herself among a group of criminals whose kidnap of a teenage girl has gone fatally wrong. They don’t trust each other and are all scared of unseen client ‘The Skincrawler’. Fodor’s script and direction never take the easy, safe or lazy option, creating an enigmatic film packed with fascinating, shadowy characters, twisted relationships, and a jigsaw narrative. Subplots of mind control and psychic powers mentioned in the synopsis are neither obvious nor necessary, to be honest. Gorgeous cinematography by Isaiah McAye and skilful editing by Fodor himself are topped by simply the best sound design I've encountered in a British horror film. Jaw-dropping work by Leonardo Stoppa: bravo, sir. Fodor’s only other features are an Azerbaijani drama and a 2007 version of Hamlet.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Trash Arts Killers Volume 1


d. various; w. various; p. Sam Mason Bell; cast: Suki Jones, Chris Mills, Rebecca Rolph, Aaron Thomas, Alice Mullholland, Simon Berry, Jessica Hunt, Suzy Weatherall, Michel Du Vegan, Rennie Pilgrem,

Enjoyable avant-garde anthology compiled by Portsmouth-based Bell (Industrial Animals) who wrote and/or directed five of the ten segments. Highlights are: The Angel of Decay – obsessive ‘Bundyphile’ emulates her hero; Desire – abstract bondage imagery with hints of cannibalism, directed by Martyna Madej; South Bank – extended video selfie of man drinking, smoking, collapsing and visited by Death, from Martin W Payne; Attraction – young married couple flicker between loving and violent realities; and The Call – Poe-esque tale of woman driven mad by hit-and-run guilt (sound design by Spirits of the Fall helmer Rusty Apper). Other writers and/or directors include Jackson Batchelor, Jessica Hunt, Mike Reed, Chris Mills and Ryan Edwards. Segments vary from 12 minutes down to brief snippets, some silent, some black and white, some non-continuous, some conventionally shot, some experimental, some with title card and credits, some without. Not everything works, but there’s enough here to satisfy anyone with an interest in underground contemporary UK horror. Available on Versusmedia via your Firestick, Roku etc.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Welcome to Essex

d./w. Ryan J Fleming; p. Philip Scott; cast: Catherine Delaloye, Greg Burridge, Muzzy Tahir, Sarah-Grace Neal, Sophie Jones, Michele Reynolds, Jonathan Walker, Robert Evans


England’s most reviled county, titular location of so many awful crime films, is finally redeemed with this impressive micro-budget zombie epic that has moments of genuine brilliance. After a sudden zombie apocalypse, a handful of survivors set off for the coast, gradually losing members along the way. The boilerplate plot is leavened by fine characterisation, especially Burridge as the squaddie leading the group; both script and actor make him a believable soldier rather than a gung-ho actor playing dress-up. Locations, characters and dialogue are all distinctively local without falling into parody, and local support is evident in terrific scenes featuring dozens of abandoned vehicles and hundreds of zombie extras. With some enjoyably gory deaths, numerous moments of both humour and pathos, and a cameo by Russell Brand (sadly not eaten by the undead). The actual film runs 100 minutes but sit through the 16-minute credits for funny out-takes and great jokes in the text crawl. Mostly shot in 2012/13, four years of pick-ups and post pushed the release back to 2018.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Blaze of Gory

d./p. various; w. David VG Davies; Cast: Juliette Strange, Nathan Head, Jade Wallis, Robert Chapman, Mark Ivan Benfield, Oliver Malam, Asleigh Gloyne, Simon Craig, Jenny Miller, Rami Hilmi, Susan Adriensen, Vikki Spit, Sandra Veronica Stanczyk, Victoria Broom, Emily Booth, Rudi Barrow

Unashamedly sleazy and sadistic anthology of sexual violence executive produced by Davies, based on stories written by Blaize-Alix Szanto when she was just 12/13. ‘Stories’ is stretching it as 10 tales crammed into 110 minutes, mostly based around extended scenes of bloody violence (with some good prosthetic effects), leaves little room for actual narrative. Recurring elements include knife rape, incest, VHS tapes and the Damocles Foundation, an organisation also in Davies’ Monitor. Originally planned as linked stories with a wrap-around tale, there are still vestigial connections between some segments. Shot between January 2013 and September 2015 by ten directors including Szanto herself, who was 20 when this was finally released. Individual segments played festivals as shorts. Strictly for connoisseurs of gore.

Details: 'The Beer Cellar' (Szanto): pub-owning couple hit problems because the wife is having an affair and the husband is screwing the kidnapped girls they keep downstairs. 'If You Were Here' (MJ Dixon): woman who was abused by her father hallucinates that he’s on a VHS tape and then attacking her. 'Sick Little Boy' (Simon P Edwards): schizophrenic young man is confused by feelings for his hot, abused stepmum. 'Young and Naïve' (Antoni McVay): young woman kidnapped by psycho stalker imagines her revenge. 'Abort' (Yana Kolesnyk): East European back street abortion leaves mother dead, baby alive; 12 years later it takes revenge. 'Snow' (Davies): fairy tale allegory as paranoid older women hires woodcutter to dismember stepdaughter. 'Masque of the Red Rape' (Robert Noel Gifford): nutter videos himself torturing young woman. 'Monster' (Andy Edwards): murderous young woman incarcerated in mental asylum kills staff and escapes. 'Precious' (Jason Wright): mother calls in team to exorcise possessed daughter. There is also a brief story among the credits directed by Chris Yardley.