Saturday 31 December 2011

Eldorado release still uncertain, website launches with loads of clips

I honestly don’t know whether the announced release of Eldorado in January will go ahead. Richard Driscoll obviously thinks it will but other ‘interested parties’ assure me that Driscoll does not own the rights and any such release would be illegal. There's talk of 'cease and desist' orders. I’ve placed a pre-order with Amazon just in case!

This is the DVD sleeve. For some reason (possibly contractual) it completely fails to mention or depict any of the star names and instead shows Michael Barber (who was a regular background artist in Ashes for Ashes) wearing a clown mask. Despite the ‘18’ certificate, the film has not yet been through the BBFC.

What is really exciting however is the launch a few days ago of a website at which has a bunch of video interviews containing lots of clips from the film, plus stacks of stills. The ‘trailers’ all seem to be basically the same thing with a different star at the end, and the ‘virals’ are a rather awful series of videos in which professional Johnny Depp impersonator Danny Lopez does a surprisingly bad Captain Jack Sparrow impression. There’s even a Twitter thing so you can keep up to date with stuff.

Among the things I’ve learned are: all the songs were recorded by local club/session singers and then (rather obviously) mimed by the stars; the David Carradine footage was lifted from another of his ‘last films’; there was a week or so of location work in Las Vegas and the Nevada desert; and Daryl Hannah shot all her scenes in LA.

The Twitter/Facebook news feed reckons that Dan Aykroyd and the Belushi estate have sanctioned the use of the Blues Brothers characters. Here’s the most recent news: “Eldorado 3D may only be the first of many spin off Blues Brothers films to feature the Jews Brothers from Eldorado 3D after the reaction from distributors around the world. Lead actor Steven Craine and film director Richard Driscoll are currently in negotiations.” Like any announcement from Richard Driscoll, this should be taken with a big pinch of salt. (Craine and Driscoll are, of course, the same person.)

If this release goes ahead then presumably Grindhouse 2wo will use only spare footage from the Eldorado shoot. Unless Driscoll is preparing it as some sort of contingency plan. Interestingly, some sites list Rebecca Lynley among the Grindhouse 2wo cast - she was the original female lead in Eldorado but left the production after shooting started for reasons that are unclear. I wonder if she - or any of the named cast - know they’re in a film called Grindhouse 2wo...

Also of note is this planned re-release of the Driscoll-produced Dennis Nilson biopic Cold Light of Day which spelled Nilson’s name correctly when Screen Edge released it on VHS in the late 1990s but now claims to be “Based on the true story of Denis Nielson”!

Synopsis and teaser art for The Warning (aka Ward 8)

Black and Blue films have released new promo art and a synopsis for The Warning (previously announced as Ward 8) which is currently shooting and is pencilled in for release next December.

The Warning is directed by Alexander Williams (aka Dominic Burns: Airborne, Cut, UFO) and stars the unbelievably busy Simon Phillips (Strippers vs Werewolves, Airborne, Kill Keith, The Reverend), Rita Ramnani (Umbrage: The First Vampire), Peter Barrett (Airborne, UFO), Grace Vallorani (The Power) and Charlotte Lewis (Sket).

Alessandro Leone and Alain Wildberger are producing with Jonathan Sothcott as executive producer. JS says: "This is the first time Black and Blue Films have dipped their toe in the found footage waters and following in the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity series is quite a challenge, but we Brits have always found a way to put a new spin on horror genre staples and with The Warning director Alexander Williams has given us a powerful, nightmarishly scary journey into fear. There are none of the familiar Black and Blue faces in this film, no Danny Dyer or Colin Salmon - this is a raw, uncompromising genre picture that is going to really get under peoples' skin!"
We were warned in an ancient Mayan prophecy that the 21st December 2012 would be the beginning of the end, but not how and where this new era would unveil itself. Until now.

In December 2011 a strange futuristic-looking artifact was uncovered in an uncharted Mayan temple in Mexico - examination of the artifact revealed binary coded information which appeared to be encoded footage. The content was unlocked by students at Chicago state university and appeared to be several hours of video footage heralding the end of the world… time stamped in the near future.

Investigation of those featured in the footage produced several names and the authorities attempted to question those involved about the validity of the footage.

But all of the people featured in this footage have disappeared… 

Friday 30 December 2011

21 British horror films coming your way in 2012 (and 25 more to watch out for)

Confirmed/tentative release dates, in chronological order

Don’t Let Him In 
dir. Kelly Smith
Interesting-looking indie about going on holiday with a psycho. Already released in France and the Netherlands, the American disc on 3rd January will be its first release in an English-language territory.
Kill List (US VOD and theatrical)
dir. Ben Wheatley
Some folks love it, some folks hate it*. This utterly marmite film, already out on UK DVD, gets a VOD release in the States on 4th January and a limited US theatrical release from 3 February. (*I hate it.) 
Stag Night of the Dead (UK DVD)
dir. Napoleon Jones
Broad zombie comedy about a bunch of lads and a stripper facing off against the undead. Released on VOD in November 2010, this finally comes to DVD on 9th January courtesy of Left Films.
Bordello Death Tales (UK DVD)
dir. Pat Higgins, Al Ronald and James Eaves
Premiering in September 2010, this massively entertaining anthology from three of the best directors around was originally announced for DVD release in August 2011 but was moved to 16th January.
The Wicker Tree (US theatrical)
dir. Robin Hardy
Hardy’s long-awaited follow-up to The Wicker Man played festivals last year and is set to open in US cinemas on 27th January. I haven’t seen it yet and I can’t say I’m that desperate.
Stalker (UK DVD)
dir. Martin Kemp
Loose remake of Exposé from Jonathan Sothcott’s reliable film factory Black and Blue Films had a limited theatrical release in October and comes to DVD on 30th January.
Eldorado (UK DVD)
dir. Richard Driscoll
Featuring an amazing cast-list and undeniably the first ever British comedy-horror-musical-western shot in 3D, this is listed for a 30th January release. But that assumes the film isn’t hit with a cease-and-desist order by certain interested parties. I’ve placed a pre-order just in case.
Passengers (UK theatrical?)
dir. John Hales
The debut feature by Hales, starring Narnia’s Anna Popplewell, concerns a group of lads who accidentally kill a nurse and then find themselves picked off one by one. Ratio Films announced an unspecified January 2012 release but the lack of anything more detailed suggests it could be later.

The Woman in Black (US/UK theatrical)
dir. James Watkins
You’ve all seen the terrific trailers for this one. A gothic Hammer horror starring Daniel Radcliffe. Hopes are high. It’s scheduled to open in US cinemas on 3rd February and in the UK one week later.
Stormhouse (US DVD)
dir. Dan Turner
Shot in 2010 and premiering last June, this indie horror has been generating a lot of interest from its festival screenings and it’s high on my list of films I want to see. It’s set for DVD/VOD release in the States on 7th February.

The Dead (US DVD)
dir. Howard and Jon Ford
The Ford Brothers’ stunning African-set zombie film is easily one of the most politically and socially relevant horror films of recent years. One of the best too. Already available on UK disc, it hits American DVD on 14th February.
Demons Never Die (UK DVD)
dir. Arjun Rose
This teen slasher (filmed as Suicide Kids) played cinemas in October and benefited from publicity surrounding the casting of Tulisa Wotsit off X-Factor. Comes to DVD on 20th February.

Grindhouse 2wo (UK DVD)
dir. Richard Driscoll
Cobbled together using left-over footage from Eldorado, this twofer (Man Hunt and Stripper with a Shotgun) boasts some of the same extraordinary cast but also has the same debatable legal/contractual status so the listed release date of 27th February should only be considered ‘pencilled in’.

The Reverend (UK theatrical?)
dir. Neil Jones
Last I heard, this star-packed feature from Stuart Brennan’s Burn Hand Films - Rutger Hauer! Doug Bradley! Emily Booth! - was being lined up for a limited release in February. Exact date TBC. I really want to see this.
Deviation (UK theatrical? and DVD)
dir. JK Amalou
A two-hander, shot mostly in-car, about not accepting a lift from a psychopath. Starring Anna Walton from Vampire Diary and Danny Dyer from everything else. The UK DVD is scheduled for 5th March and it’s likely that Revolver will do a limited theatrical release before that.
The Porcelain Man (US DVD)
dir. Sameer Kumar Madhar
Shot in November 2002, this ultra-cheapie had a single screening at Warwick University in July 2004 and then disappeared. But Chemical Burn Entertainment have rescued it from oblivion and are planning a Stateside release, nearly ten years on. Features some of the most half-hearted zombie (in)action you’ll ever see.
Devil’s Bridge (UK DVD)
dir. Chris Crow
The Welsh Straw Dogs is lined up to hit shelves on 19th March. I don’t know a great deal about this one but I hear good things.
Kill Keith (UK DVD)
dir. Andy Thompson
Listen, I thought this comedy about a serial killer stalking D-list celebs was great, no matter what anyone else thinks. It had a brief theatrical outing in November but most people will watch it at home after the disc is released on 26th March.
Vampires: Brighter in Darkness (UK DVD)
dir. Jason Davitt
Specialist label Peccadillo Pictures have delivered some great horror films recently. This latest, adapted from a cable TV series, is a sort of British gay Twilight (as if Twilight wasn’t gay enough!). It made its festival debut in October and hits DVD on 2nd April.

The Harsh Light of Day (UK theatrical)
dir. Oliver Milburn
An author with a knowledge of the occult receives a visit from a mysterious stranger who promises to help him find his wife’s killers. I’m looking forward to this one which is scheduled to play selected cinemas from 13th April. Not to be confused with the Bruce Willis actioner Cold Light of Day released the week before! 
Storage 24 (UK theatrical)
dir. Johannes Roberts
A top-secret military cargo escapes from a plane crash and traps a bunch of folk inside a dark storage facility. Roberts’ last feature was the excellent F so I’m very much looking forward to this one, especially as it is produced by, and stars, Noel Clarke. Lined up for a cinema release on 29th June. 

Other films to watch for in 2012
No release dates announced yet. Some of these have played festivals in recent months. And there’s plenty more where these came from...
  • Airborne (d.Dominic Burns) Terror on a pilotless plane. Stars Mark Hamill. 
  • Before Dawn (d. Dominic Brunt) Zombie feature directed by Paddy off Emmerdale
  • Cockneys vs Zombies (d.Matthias Hoene) Zombies! Cockneys too! Also Richard Briers! 
  • The Devil’s Business (d.Sean Hogan) Hit-men and Satanism. A bit like Kill List but with an ending. 
  • Elfie Hopkins (d.Ryan Andrews) Creepy fun with Ray and Jaime Winstone. 
  • Final Project (d.Jason Ford) “Blair Witch meets The Wicker Man on a council estate” aka Community 
  • The Forgotten (d.Oliver Frampton) Urban ghost story 
  • Gangsters, Guns and Zombies (d.Matt Mitchell) Zombies! Guns too! Also gangsters! 
  • The Glass Man (d.Cristian Solimeno) An innocent man driven to extremes. 
  • Grabbers (d.Jon Wright) Russell Tovey and Richard Coyle vs tentacled beasties. 
  • Guinea Pigs (d.Ian Clark) Drug trial goes horribly wrong. 
  • Harold’s Going Stiff (d.Keith Wright) Gentle, cross-generational romance. With zombies. 
  • The Haunting of Harry Payne (d.Martyn Pick) Psychic ex-gangster battles Norfolk ghosts. 
  • Heretic (d.Peter Handford) Catholic priest faces possibly supernatural revenge for abusing teenage girl. 
  • Inbred (d.Alex Chandon) Straw Dogs in Yorkshire, from the director of Cradle of Fear
  • In the Dark Half (d.Alastair Siddons) “Psychological ghost story.” 
  • Love Bite (d.Andy De Emmony) I was a British teenage werewolf. 
  • Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (d.James Plumb) Zombies in Wales. 
  • Patient 17 (d.Tuyet Le) Supernatural medical chiller. 
  • Stalled (d.Christian James) Trapped in a toilet by a zombie apocalypse. From the makers of Freak Out
  • Strippers vs Werewolves (d.Jonathan Glendening) Werewolves! Strippers too! Also Robert Englund! 
  • Three’s a Shroud (d.various) Multi-director anthology, with teddy bears. 
  • Warhouse (d.Luke Massey) Soldier repeats same horrific day over and over again. 
  • Young, High and Dead (d.Luke Brady) Dead! High too! Also young! 
  • The Zombie King (d.Aidan Belizaire) Edward Furlong! Corey Feldman too! Also zombies!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Film 66: Credo

Alex Wakeford and Toni Harman made this utterly generic teens-vs-demon-in-old-house feature which was released in the States as The Devil's Curse. The only interesting thing about the film is the presence of Boyzone's Stephen Gately in the prologue which was added to the UK version (it's a brief flashback in the US edit).

Competent but utterly forgetable, it's the sort of movie you can't really remember even while you're still watching it. One of those films that has to go in the book but won't take up much space.

Films 64 and 65: Kannibal and Evil Calls

I'd been saving these two up and I thought: what the heck? A little festive treat - let's bang out 2,000 or so words on Richard Driscoll, the British Ed Wood.

Of course I could write a lot more. Famously, my shot-by-inept-shot review of Evil Calls ran to 20,000 words. But there's only so much room in the book. Even though they post-date my cut-off of December 2008, I couldn't resist adding a few paragraphs about the unmade Watchmen of Hellgate and the unreleased (possibly unreleasable) Eldorado.

For those of you who have never seen Kannibal or Evil Calls, they are now available under the respective titles Head Hunter and The Legend of Harrow Woods.

Holy crap! Battlefield Death Tales!

Pat Higgins has been hinting at a secret project for a while now on Twitter and can keep schtumm no longer. It's called Battlefield Death Tales and reunited Pat with his oppos from the 2010 anthology Bordello Death Tales, Al Ronald and James Eaves. And it starts shooting tomorrow!

Bordello Death Tales (which was announced for August 2011 but is now scheduled for 16th January 2012) is one of my absolute favourite films of recent years. I love the movies of all three guys - heck, I love all three guys! - and am unfeasibly excited about this.

Monday 26 December 2011

Driscoll's 'Man Hunt' is half of a re-edited 'Eldorado'

Oh this is priceless. More news on Richard Driscoll’s Man Hunt aka Grindhouse 2wo which I first mentioned last week. Here’s the blurb on Amazon, Lovefilm etc for the film which is listed as a 27th February release:

In the style of 70's grindhouse comes MAN HUNT and STRIPPER WITH A SHOTGUN in one exciting programme that is full of zombies, cannibals, Nazi's and bare breasted ladies. If you like your cinema raw with plenty of violence than GRINDHOUSE 2wo is not to be missed.

Starring Michael Madsen, Brigitte Nielsen, Linnea Quigley, Robin Askwith and Patrick Bergin.

List of DVD extras: 

  • History of Grindhouse)
  • Selection of Grindhouse trailers 
Driscoll was filming scenes for this earlier this month - here’s a blog by make-up artist Emslie Mills about working on the film. But we can see from the cast list (and the fact that Steve Munro's CastingCallPro page lists his character name as the same) that what Driscoll is doing here is cobbling footage from his 3D Blues Brothers rip-off comedy-horror-musical-western Eldorado together with new stuff to make Grindhouse 2wo – just as he cobbled Alone in the Dark together with new footage to make Evil Calls, and just as he cobbled the unreleased The Devil’s Disciple together with new footage to make the (also) unreleased Back2Hell.

What is interesting is that, on her Facebook page and blog, Emslie refers to Eldorado (which she also worked on) and Grindhouse 2wo as if they are different films so presumably she (and other crew members) were unaware that they’re the same movie.

Also curious to see Linnea Quigley’s name there. Perhaps Driscoll is sticking some leftover footage from Kannibal in there.

Eldorado itself is listed on Amazon etc for a 30th January release. While it would be great to see this nonsense, I’m not holding my breath because there’s still a whole raft of legal/contractual stuff to sort out before this film can be legally released (if that ever happens). Although the various sites show an ‘18’ certificate, the film has still not been through the BBFC (though it has been submitted to the BVA). The existence of Grindhouse 2wo makes it even less likely that we (or the film's increasingly frustrated investors) will ever see Eldorado in its original format.

(Final point to note: there has never actually been Grindhouse 1ne in this country. For both cinema and DVD in the UK, Death Proof and Planet Terror were released separately.)

Good old Tricky Dicky Riskall - he continues to entertain!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Film 63: The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse

I was never a fan of The League of Gentlemen. I tried to watch one episode and found it much too self-indulgent and artificially 'weird' (and not particularly funny). But the influence of the quartet, especially Mark Gatiss, on recent UK horror and science fiction, is undeniable.

The 2005 feature film spin-off was aimed solidly at people who watched and enjoyed the TV show. Very, very weird. But it does have probably the only stop-motion three-headed monster in modern British cinema.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Review: Stag Night of the Dead

Napoleon Jones' zombie comedy Stag Night of the Dead finally comes to DVD on 9th January and I have now had a chance to watch and review the screener from Left Films.

SNOTD has been picking up some good reviews but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to disagree. I didn't find the film particular scary, sexy or funny. Its heart is in the right place but it just wasn't interesting or entertaining. And I think the decision to equip the characters with ray-guns that temporarily stun the zombies, instead of, you know, blasting them in the head, was really not a good one.

Sorry, guys.

Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw (short film review)

I have reviewed Chris Regan's ambitious half-hour, WW Jacobs-inspired short on my main site. It's got animated bits, it's got singing and dancing, but it's missing a spark.

Chris is planning a second Jenny Ringo film and I'd certainly be interested to watch one and see where he goes with the character.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Freak Out team wrap second feature - ‘Stalled’

Seven years ago Christian James and Dan Palmer scored a big hit with serial killer comedy Freak Out. A couple of weeks ago they wrapped photography on their second feature Stalled, directed by James and written by Palmer.

Palmer stars as WC, a toilet attendant trapped in a women’s loo during a zombie apocalypse. Also in the cast are Giles Alderson (Night Junkies, Harsh Light of Day), Mark Holden (he was in The X-Files!), Chris R Wright (Small Town Folk), Tamaryn Payne (Hollyoaks). Simon White is doing the special effects make-up.

Stalled was shot in Bournemouth over Nov/Dec 2011. No images yet, as far as I can tell.

Monday 19 December 2011

Driscoll planning a 'Man Hunt'

I hear rumours that Richard Driscoll, the British Ed Wood, has been shooting some extra footage for his unreleased (and unseen) comedy-horror-western-musical Eldorado, possibly adding some zombies into the mix. On top of which, a new title from Driscoll's House of Fear has appeared on CastingCallPro: Man Hunt.

Or GrindHouse 2wo: Man Hunt, a title which is wrong in so, so many ways.

Guy wakes up chained to wall in cave with just a mobile phone and lots of rats, he doesn't know why he's here or what is about to happen.

The only named cast member is Steve Munroe, once again playing 'Sam Coex'. This is the same character (or at least the same name) as he had in The Comic and as he was set to have in Driscoll's hilariously over-ambitious Watchmen of Hellgate.

Given how many films Driscoll has announced and sometimes even started, and given that he still hasn't released Back2Hell, which was built from footage shot for The Devil's Disciple in 2006, I'm not holding my breath for Man Hunt.

Echoes on the big screen, 14 January, Lancashire

Echoes is a new zero-budget supernatural thriller written, produced, directed and edited by Nag Nag Productions, which is Craig Kendrick, Ivan Meredith and David Wilson. Despite their lack of experience and funding, they’ve pulled the film together, had a cast and crew screening and now they’ve got themselves a public big-screen outing. And some coverage in the Bolton News!

If you’re in the Wigan area on 14th January 2012 you can see Echoes for free at the Leigh Cineworld. Tickets are available via the film’s website where you can also watch the trailer.
A complex supernatural thriller that pushes the boundaries of low budget digital film making. Dave Hidie is a troubled man. Seeking closure and peace of mind following the trauma of family bereavement, he and his wife have tried to move on. New home, new job, new friends. Everything should be coming together - if not for the visions, the voices and the feeling that someone, somewhere, is trying to tell him something. Something that will have a shatteringly life changing effect. Dave is experiencing the echoes of something deep and dark that should, perhaps, be left well alone.

Film 62: Mutant Chronicles

This was always going to be a tough one to write because Simon Hunter is a mate. He invited me onto the Chronicles set to do a bunch of interviews, was very appreciative of everything I did to try and promote the film when it was released in 2008, he even said that Alan Jones and I were the only two journos he really wanted on his next feature.

But... I have to be honest in the book and Mutant Chronicles is pretty awful. Not through any problem with the direction: I think it's well-directed, well-produced, well-designed and the acting... well, some of that's good and some of it is John Malkovich. But the script (by Event Horizon's Philip Eisner) is just awful, with paper-thin characters, clunky dialogue and absolutely fundamental plot-holes, not least that a world bristling with heavy artillery, armoured vehicles and flying machines is unable to defend itself against what is effectively a bunch of angry gorillas with swords.

Mutant Chronicles was actually part of the reason I gave up journalism. It costs quite a lot to get from Leicester to Shepperton and, while I didn't expect to use the interviews for two years because of the lengthy post-schedule, I did expect to make a profit by selling them. But the film was released with about two weeks' notice so there was no opportunity to place anything. That fed into my disillusionment with the whole thing, plus mags were closing left, right and centre.

Ironically, as soon as I gave up the journalism to concentrate on books and scripts, there was a boom in UK indie horror production and a whole bunch of new mags launched. C'est la vie.

You can read all my on-set interviews in the 'Mutant Chronicles Chronicles' section of my main site.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

British Stitches vs Irish Stitches

Some sites are reporting that production has wrapped on a British ‘killer clown’ mvie called Stitches. Which it undoubtedly has, except that Stitches (previously announced as Stitches Grimble) is an Irish-American co-production. It’s a collaboration between Dublin-based Fantastic Films, the Irish Film Board and American company Dark Sky (who made Hatchett etc)., filmed in Dublin.

It stars an English comedian, Ross Noble, and Fantastic Films have been involved with other British horrors including Wake Wood and Outcast but I’d be very surprised if it’s marketed as a British picture. It’s certainly not the first Irish film to be described (by Americans) as British. But I think we can class this as part of the Irish Horror Revival.

Confusingly, there is a British horror film called Stitches. Directed by Lee Isserow and Trevor Fleming, it was made as part of the 28 Days Later Film Challenge in 2010 under the title The Killer Gloves. That Stitches has played a few festivals and is available on DVD from the Opiate of the People Films website.

Monday 12 December 2011

Can't wait to see: Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue wrapped a couple of weeks ago and has some impressive names on the list. Co-producer Tim Dennison’s name is usually enough to interest me just because he always seems to get attached to films I end up watching, including Lighthouse, Room 36, Evil Aliens and even (I discovered from the Scar Tissue website) line producing this year’s London-set Bollywood sci-fi epic Ra-One!

The producer is Michael Riley, who also made the brilliant Vampire Diary and, more recently, Danny Dyer in-car psycho-thriller Deviation which is due out in February. And the music is by Mark Ayres, a familiar name to Doctor Who fans. I think I only met Mark once but as it was in the old BBC Radiophonic Workshop studios and he showed me the original audio-reel of the original Who theme, it has sort of stuck in my memory!

Production designer John-Paul Frazer worked on forthcoming urban horror Comedown, forthcoming rural horror Hollow and the wonderful historical short My Name is Sarah Hayward. And the legendary Paul Hyett has done the prosthetics, which is recommendation in itself.

The cast includes Shaun Dingwall (second time I’ve mentioned him - he’s in The Forgotten), Kenneth ‘Admiral Piett’ Colley, Danny Horn, Pete Lee-Wilson and Chris Cowlin (who is in both May I Kill You and uwantme2killhim?). Writer-director Scott Michell’s last film was 1996 thriller The Innocent Sleep.

This is definitely one I’ll be watching out for. 
Twenty-five years ago the serial killer Edward Jansen was shot and killed by the police in his underground lair. With him were the bodies of five young girls he had mercilessly tortured and killed.

Today he's back.

And today is Luke Denham's birthday. Twenty-two years of a normal, unremarkable life.

But tomorrow Luke will wake up to find a mutilated corpse in his bathroom.

He will be stalked and taunted by a psychopath who died long before Luke was even born. And he will have his future placed into the hands of a volatile and deeply disturbed female detective, Sam Cross.

The secret they uncover will shatter Luke's whole world and bring Sam face to face with demons from her tragic childhood. Together they will discover that the past is impossible to escape. And that some wounds will never heal.

SCAR TISSUE - a powerful, gripping mystery-thriller. Shocking and unsettling, it asks some of the most difficult questions we can ask of ourselves. Can we ever truly know or trust another human being? Can we even know ourselves?

Sunday 11 December 2011

Awesome Emily Booth poster for The Reverend

There's also a regular one with Rutger Hauer, and for those with unusual tastes there's one of Shane Richie. But let's be honest: who would you most like on your office wall?

Only problem I can see with this is that some people are going to assume the film is called Tracy. What's the betting Tracy gets listed at some point as a spurious credit on Bouff's IMDB page?

You can see all three on the film's Facebook page. It's scheduled for a February theatrical release in the UK.

Films 60 and 61: Dust and Broken

I've been fairly brief in my coverage of Adam Mason's second feature Dust because I've already discussed at length how awful The 13th Sign was. It's only with Broken, a few years later, that Mason really becomes interesting as a film-maker.

I reviewed this when Revolver sent me a copy and, technically proficient though it may be, Broken is a very, very long way from my cup of tea. I have no interest at all in watching realistic depictions of people torturing other people and I find it a bit creepy that other people do. Clearly, the fact that they've made about 20 sequels to Saw shows there's a market for this sort of thing, but not in this house.

Although Dust and Broken were made five years apart I've lumped them together, along with Ruby and Prey, Mason's brace of shorts which played the 2002 and 2003 Frightfests. (Prey is available online and is well-made but clichéed. However I'd quite like to see Ruby which sounds diabolically self-indulgent.) The structure of the book is still flexible, nevertheless, and I may end up shifting Dust (and possibly Ruby) onto the end of The 13th Sign. Prey is a direct precursor to Broken so really needs to stay where it is.

Mason's fourth film, The Devil's Chair, remains the only one of his pictures that I can say I actually enjoyed, although I can see why folk who liked Broken may have been disappointed with it. Mason now lives and works in America, making a healthy living out of making further unpleasant movies that I don't want to ever see, no matter how well-made they are.

Film 59: Soul Searcher

Neil Oseman very kindly sent me a copy of this so I could take a look and write it up for the book. It's a supernatural fantasy but I think that anything in which people have to battle literal demons counts as horror. If Buffy is horror, Soul Searcher is too.

Hugely impressive and massively ambitious, the film is perhaps too ambitious but nevertheless a magnificent achievement and very entertaining. I've done a short-ish write-up which I may amend tonight after watching the feature-length Making Of.

Special plaudits to my mate Scott Benzie for his terrific orchestral/choral score.

Still waiting for: Battersea Ripper

I’m not sure how much this counts as horror, but it’s about a psycho and has ‘ripper’ in one of its titles (it is also known as Manilla Envelopes).

The unlikely duo of Danny Dyer and Sylvester McCoy star as a pair of journalists on the trail of a kidnapped teenager. The hugely impressive cast also includes Dexter Fletcher, Denise Van Outen, Stephen Graham, Jeff Harding, Jade Asha, PH Moriarty, Alan Ford, Kenny Baker, Vas Blackwood, Lysette Anthony, Don Warrington, Richard Herring, Susannah Wise, Lucy Benjamin, David Schneider, Jennifer Evans and Jim Tavaré!

With a cast like that, you would expect this film have surfaced somewhere but it seems to have had a single screening in March 2006 at ScreenTest, the National Student Film Festival in Bristol. Produced by Cactus Films, Battersea Ripper was written by Stepen Fingleton, an award-winning Northern Irish scriptwriter. Curiously, most references to the film omit to name the director. Some websites say it was Fingleton but his own biography makes it clear he only wrote the thing. I’ve seen Nick Tyrone’s name attached too but he was just an editor.

It seems to have been directed by someone named Mike Spencer, about whom I know nothing.

South London’s young women are been terrorised by the Battersea Ripper. Chief Inspector Stalker (Fletcher) and his underlings (Tyrone and Graham) couldn’t care less. Two corrupt journos (Dyer and McCoy) band together to find the killer. Two media moguls make millions from the story, but are busy blackmailing each other. What nobody counts on is a crazed Irish hitman running amok. Is he the killer? Or the good guy in disguise?

The Stone: No Soul Unturned (review)

I have added to my main site a review of The Stone: No Soul Unturned, the debut feature by paranormal documentarian Philip Gardiner. It's a British feature shot in Nottinghamshire with a bit of US funding (Warren Croyle, head of Chemical Burn Entertainment who release Gardiner's various fiction and non-fiction titles, is an executive producer).

It's not as awful as I expected. Actually, it probably is, just in a different way. I expected the film to be some po-faced, overly serious polemic about how all this crap is real. It actually turns out to be a supernatural horror with somewhat middling technical credits, no discernible story and far too many drawn-out sequences of people just walking around. However the first half of the film does offer some unintentional entertainment (the second half might too, if it hadn't all been filmed way, way too dark).

The extraordinarily prolific Gardiner has followed this with Paranormal Haunting: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn (also on my TBW pile), House of Sin, Cam Girl: The Movie, The Dark Watchers, Lady of the Dark: Genesis of the Serpent Vampire and One Hour to Die, all available from (or coming soon from) Chemical Burn.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Still waiting for... Arkham Sanitarium

The world’s never going to be short of HP Lovecraft movies but very few get made in the UK. Andrew Morgan’s Arkham Sanitarium, which was filmed earlier this year, is an anthology of three HPL tales set in the 1930s with an original 1950s framing story. Release expected next year. Looking forward to this one.

About the film: 
Arkham Sanitarium is an anthology of three short stories faithfully adapted from the works of H.P. Lovecraft – each of the three stories is set in 1930s New England (specifically Providence, Rhode Island and the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts). The stories are connected by an original ‘wraparound’ story. In this story – set in the 1950s – Alice Crow investigates the strange stories surrounding the infamous Arkham Sanitarium.

The Haunter of the Dark Robert Blake, author and artist returns to Providence to research a shadowy cult for his new book – against the warnings of his friend Ambrose Dexter he tracks down the old church where the cult performed their dark rituals – in the dusty, decrepit ruins he finds an ancient device that summons a monstrous creature intent on destroying him.

The Shunned House Phillip Whipple, a Miskatonic University medical student returns to Providence to help his uncle Elihu move house. Phillip finds his uncle’s notes on ‘The Shunned House’ – an old, crumbling place with a bad reputation. Phillip was trapped there once as a child and saw something he couldn’t explain so with his uncle’s assistance, the pair seek to uncover why an alarming number of people have died there.

The Thing on the Doorstep Edward Derby, a poet and fantasist, falls for Asenath, a cold but hypnotically beautiful student at Miskatonic University – the pair wed shortly after despite Edward’s close friend, Daniel Upton having concerns about the marriage. Daniel’s worries are well-founded - Asenath is the daughter of Ephraim Waite – an old man rumoured to be a practitioner of black magic before his recent death.

Cast includes: Anthony Clegg, Paul Maclaine, Edward Lewis French, Lexi Wolfe (who was in a student version of The Tell-Tale Heart last year), Zara Symes (also in Third Contact), Jamie Hawes, Simon Matthews (Gangsters, Gun and Zombies - a feature currenly in post), Victoria Smith (in half-hour killer scarecrows short ScAIRcrows), Georgina Lucy (in self-descriptive short Horringer: A Zombie Western), Adam Thomas Wright (The Awakening), Bruce Gibbons, Tom Stanley, Allan McKenna (Nympha), Zoe Simpson, Dan McSherry and Colin Appleby.

More info at

Sunday 4 December 2011

Kill Keith up for pre-order

The DVD of the sublimely brilliant Kill Keith is up for pre-order on Amazon. Metrodome will release the film on 26 March 2012. I for one can't wait to watch this again.

Still waiting for... The Devil’s Punch Bowl

Housemates Alice O'Brien, James Papageorgiou and Gary Mitcham decide to visit The Devil's Punch Bowl in Surrey, England, where an unknown sailor was murdered in 1786 by three robbers. The culprits were executed and hanged in chains near the scene of their crime on Gibbet Hill. Alice was in love with her new camera, and decided to film their trip. What was caught on camera...

Starring Peter Chay, Dawn Murphy and Naoufal Ousellam

Written and directed by Tim Hewitt, a former actor who had been in things like Hotel Babylon and MI High. Produced by Hewitt and Madeline Dart. Editor: Alice Petit (director of a 2009 ghostly short called Eleonor). Music by Sergio Cicalo. Sound design by David Pringle (ex-RSC).

'The Devil’s Punch Bowl', is according to Wikipedia, “a large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot near Hindhead, Surrey” and this film, which seems to be a Blair Witch-style fake documentary, is based the local legend of the ‘Unknown Sailor’ who murdered on nearby Gibbet Hill in 1786.

Filmed in September 2010, a rough cut of The Devil's Punch Bowl was taken to Cannes in May, but it all seems to have gone quiet since then. Director Tim Hewitt is still active on Facebook and Twitter but that’s all about his new short or general stuff. Punch Bowl seems to have vanished.

Friday 2 December 2011

'The Forgotten' - urban ghost story in post

I miss the BBC’s Robin Hood series from a few years ago. It was great: full of action and adventure and intrigue and fun and fighting. The lad who played Little John’s son (Little Little John) in a couple of episodes is now 17 and has been cast in a ‘terrifying urban ghost story’ called Forgotten which wrapped principal photography recently.

When a father and son are forced to squat in an empty London council estate scheduled for demolition, 14 year old Tommy starts to hear strange noises coming from the boarded-up flat next door… Social realism meets horror in this urban ghost story. While Tommy struggles to reconnect with his deteriorating father, and glean where his mum might have gone, introverted Tommy makes an unlikely new friend in ballsy, street-smart Carmen. She is everything he isn't. And together they start to unravel the chilling truth behind the sounds coming through Tommy's bedroom wall and the bizarre things that Tommy has started seeing. Eventually Tommy & Carmen break in and find the next door flat empty. But the hauntings only escalate and when Mark is injured and taken into hospital, Tommy finds himself alone on the estate. He realises he’s in way over his head. What does the malign force want…? The truth is more terrifying than Tommy could imagine.
From the producer of THE BORDERLANDS, a tensely plotted, superbly acted, gritty urban supernatural horror.

Clem Tibber, who plays Tommy, was in Chromophobia alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, Rhys Ifans, Ralp Fiennes and Penelope Cruz. He was also in the ‘School Reunion’ episode of Doctor Who. Carmen is played by Elarica Gallagher (who was a waitress in Harry Potter 6). Tommy's father is played by Shaun Dingwall who was Rose Tyler’s dad and his mum is Lyndsey Marshall who plays Lucy in Being Human (and was in Snuff-Movie). Also in the cast: Katherine Mount, James Doherty (Inbred), Paul Marlon, Carys Lewis and Morgan Thomas. Eben Bolter (Three’s a Shroud) was the DOP.

The Forgotten was written by Oliver Frampton and James Hall and directed by Frampton, who previously made a very creepy half-hour short called Beautiful Isolation. It was produced by Jennifer Handford for Stickyback Pictures; she produced an Escape from LA spoof short that Jake West directed for this year’s Frightfest! Here’s the biogs:

Oliver Frampton (Writer / Director) Oliver has spent 10 years working in Film and Television Drama as a Director, Script and Story Editor, and Development Producer on shows like The Bill, RAW, and Soko Leipzig. His horror short Pieces won the Turner Short Film competition. The Forgotten is his debut feature.

James Hall (Writer)
Having spent the last fourteen years working in television drama, James has Story and Series Script Edited, Written and Produced on shows including EastEnders, Doctors, Emmerdale and The Bill. In addition, he also wrote the book for Chasing Fate, a new musical created for and performed by ‘Youth At Risk’ teenagers from the West Midlands. The Forgotten is his first feature-length screenplay.

Jen Handorf (Producer) Jen has been an independent film Producer since graduating from Colombia University where her short Pop Foul won the student Oscar. Since then she’s produced a number of features including Isle of Dogs, Little Deaths and the soon to be released The Devil’s Business.

Grabbers set to premiere at Sundance

I'm very much looking forward to Grabbers, an Anglo-Irish monster comedy directed by Jon Wright (Tormented), starring Russell Tovey and Richard Coyle. Shot at the end of 2010, the film will have its premiere at Sundance next month.

If it's not the next Shaun of the Dead, it should at least be the next Boy Eats Girl.

Film 58: Never Play with the Dead

Shown on cable here but only ever commercially released in Australia, I had low expectations for this obscure feature about that most clichéed of plots: young people organising a party in an empty Victorian building.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find an enjoyable - and at times, genuinely spooky - ghost story with rounded, believable characters and chilling, if predictable, ending. Most of the cast and crew seem to have worked on EastEnders and other soaps.

Not a classic by any means but a perfectly acceptable way to spend 80 minutes. How does something like this not get a DVD release when you consider the crap that does? I mean, Left for Dead played cinemas - what sort of bizarro world are we living in?

Thursday 1 December 2011

A list of 140 unreleased British horror films produced since 2000

In keeping a list of released modern British horror films up-to-date for my book, I also keep a subsidiary list of unreleased titles and this has now grown to a ridiculous length.

The stats are these. The British Horror Revival 1998-2008 will feature 106 movies (at the last count). In the three years since 2008, there have been a (quite staggering) hundred additional British horror films released, which I hope I can cover in a second volume. But during all this time there have been about 140 films which have yet to see a commercial release.

No doubt some are bloody awful and should never see the light of day, as much for the film-makers’ reputations as anything. But equally there must be some in here worth watching. In fact, I know there are.

Below is the current list but I make no claim to be definitive. Feel free to suggest deletions (please!) or additions (if you must) in the comments or by e-mail. I’m going to start a regular(-ish) series of ‘Missing in Action’ blogposts on individual films that look particularly tantalising.

Just to clarify:
  • ‘Released’ in this context means a commercial release, whether in cinema, on DVD or VOD, in at least one territory. The chance for an ordinary punter (somewhere in the world) to slap some money down and watch the film.
  • Some of these films are known to have played festivals or had one-off screenings; these are marked with an asterisk. I don’t count that as a release.
  • There are a few films in this list which are only ‘unreleased’ in the sense that they are still in post-production or currently playing festivals. We can confidently expect them to be released in the near future (although nothing is ever certain).
  • This list does not include films with announced release dates: ie. The Rise of Jengo, Little Deaths, Bordello Death Tales, The Wicker Tree, Passengers, The Woman in Black, Stormhouse, The Porcelain Man, Devil’s Bridge, Vampires: Brighter in Darkness and The Harsh Light of Day
  • It is possible that some of these films were never finished although I’m reasonably sure they all at least started principal photography.
  • All of these are, as far as I know, features running at least 70 minutes.
  • My definition of ‘British horror film’ is actually quite conservative, in terms of judgement calls about international co-productions, borderline ‘dark thrillers’ etc. I try to keep my lists short, not all-inclusive!
Any way you slice it, this is a remarkable, fascinating list:

Airborne (d.Dominic Burns)
Alien Rising (d.Nigel Moran)
Ambition (d.Nicolas Forzy)
Animal Soup (d.David VG Davies)
Bad Place (d.Darren Winter)*
The Battersea Ripper aka Manilla Envelopes (d.Nick Tyrone)*
Beast in the Basement aka Conquering Heroes (d.Robbie Moffat)*
Before Dawn (d.Dominic Brunt)
Bicycle Day aka Bad Trip (d.Damian Morter)
Blood Army aka Nephilim (d.Will Moore)
The Box (d.Jason Wilcox)
Cockneys vs Zombies (d.Matthias Hoene)
Collateral Consequences (d.Paul TT Easter)
Comedown (d.Menhaj Juda)
Community aka Final Project (d.Jason Ford)
Creepsville (d.Michael J Dixon)
The Dark Hunter (d.Duncan Cowan, Mark Jackson)
Dark Journey aka Parkside Hell House (d.James White)
Dark Night (d.Daniel Grant)*
Dead Crazy (d.Frank Scantori)
Dead Dog Blues (d.Aimee Stephenson)*
Dead Frequency (d.Rob Burrows)*
The Dead Inside (d.Andrew Gilbert)*
Deadtime (d.Tony Jopia)
Dead Time (d.Jason Wilcox)
Death (d.Martin Gooch)
Demon (d.Mark Duffield)
The Demon Within (d.Harold Gasnier)
The Devil’s Business (d.Sean Hogan)*
Dreaming of Screaming (d. Lee Burgess, John Ninnis, Tuesday Burgess)
The Dungeon Moor Killings (d.Jim Hickey)*
A Dying Breed (d.Katharine Collins)
Eldorado (d.Richard Driscoll)
Ellie Rose aka Not Alone (d.Tristan Versluis)
Entity (d.Steve Stone)
Every Picture (d.Tobias Tobbell)*
Expiry Date (d.Karen Bird)*
The Fallow Field (d.Leigh Dovey)*
A Fantastic Fear of Everything (d.Chris Hopewell, Crispian Mills)
Le Fear (d.Jason Croot)
Forest of the Damned 2 (d.Ernest Riera)
For One Night Only (d.Belinda Greensmith)
The Found Not Missing (d.Luke Massey)
Fragments (d.Ross Dickson)
Furor: Rage of the Innocent (d,Victor Marke)*
The Glass Man (d.Cristian Solimeno)*
Gozo (d. Stephen Shell)
Grabbers (d.Jon Wright)
Graders (d.David Hutchison)*
A Grave for the Corpses (d.SN Sibley)
Grave Tales (d. Don Fearney)*
Graveyard Shift: A Zomedy of Terrors (d.Sapphira Sen-Gupta, Denise Channing)
The Great Ghost Rescue (d.Yann Samuell)
Guinea Pigs (d.Ian Clark)*
Hacked Off (d.Andrew Weild)
Hard Shoulder (d.Nicholas David Lean)
Harmony’s Requiem aka Silent Terror (d.Mark McDermott)*
Harold’s Going Stiff (d.Keith Wright)*
The Harrowing (d.Tim Burke)
Haunted (d.Steven M Smith)
The Haunting of Harry Payne (d.Martyn Pick)
The Haven (dir.Ray Kilby)
HellBilly 58 (d.Russ Diaper)
Heretic (d.Peter Handford)
High Stakes (d.Peter Ferris)
The Holding (d.Susan Jacobson)*
Hollow (d.Michael Axelgaard)*
Horrorcide (d.Rakie Keig)
The Horror of the Dolls (d.Shane Davey)*
The Hounds (d.Maurizio & Roberto Del Piccolo)*
Inbred (d.Alex Chandon)*
In the Dark Half (d.Alastair Siddons)
Invisible Eyes (d.Olivier Cohen)*
Jacob’s Hammer aka Jacob (d.Angie Bojtler)
Lady of the Dark: Genesis of the Serpent Vampire (d.Philip Gardiner)
The Last Blood Line (d.John Evans)
The Last Zombi Hunter (d.SN Sibley)
Legend of the Alleyman (d.Mike Jelves)
The Legend of the 5ive (d.James P Weatherall)*
Lethal (d.Darcia Martin)
Liberty Bleeds (d.Stuart Wood)
The Lost (d.Johan Neethling)
Martyr (d.Shaun Troke)
May I Kill U? (d.Stuart Urban)
Monitor (d.David VG Davies)
Myth (d.John Aldridge)
A Night in the Woods (d.Richard Parry)*
Night is Day (d.Fraser Coull)
Occasional Monsters (d.Sam Addison, Michael Cox)*
Old Blood (d.Sapphira Sen-Gupta, Denise Channing)*
One Hour to Die (d.Philip Gardiner)
Patient 17 (d.Tuyet Le)*
The Perfect Burger (d.Todd Carty)
Piggy (d.Kieron Hawks)
The Power (d.Paul Hills)
Psychosomatic (d.Andrew C Tanner)*
Purgatory (d.Stuart Wood)
A Reckoning aka Straw Man (d. AD Barker)
Re-evolution (d.Andrew Walkington)
The Reverend (d. Neil Jones)*
Rising Tide (d.Dawn Furness, Philip Shotton)*
Rock and Roll Fuck’n’Lovely (d.Josh Bagnall)
Sacrificed (d.Keith Bradley)*
Sawney: Flesh of Man (d.Ricky Wood Jnr)
Scopia (d.Chris Butler)
Screen (d.David P Baker)
Season of the Witch (d.Peter Goddard)*
Seven Crosses (d.Robbie Moffat)*
Showreel (d.Ross Birkbeck)
Simon and Emily (d.Lee Isserow)
Slasher House (d.Michael J Dixon)
Slumber Party (d.Martin Marshall)
Sparrow (d.Shaun Troke)
Stag Hunt (d.James Shanks)
Stitches aka The Killer Gloves (d.Trevor Fleming, Lee Isserow)*
Strippers vs Werewolves (d. Jonathan Glendenning)
Telephone Detectives (d.Mark Reynaud)
Third Contact (d.Simon Horrocks)*
Three’s a Shroud (d.David VG Davies, Dan Brownlie, Andy Edwards)
Through the Looking Glass (d.Craig Griffith)*
Tied in Blood (d.Kevin McDonagh)
Till Sunset (d.David Woods)
Transylvanian Express (d.Kirby Leitko)
Truth or Dare (d.Robert Heath)
Tuck Bushman and the Legend of Piddledown Dale (d.Chris Lumb)*
UFO (d.Dominic Burns)
Unwelcome (d.Keith R Robinson)
The Urge (d.Chris Andrews)
Venus Drowning (d. Andrew Parkinson)*
A Very Grimm Fairy Tale (d.Scott Johnson)
Voodoo Lagoon (d.Nick Cohen)*
Warhouse (d.Luke Massey)
Webkam (d.Ibraheem James Layton)
When the Lights Went Out aka Speak No Evil (d.Pat Holden)
Wilby Park (d.Ian Fielding)
Within (d.John A Curtis, Merlin Ward)
Within the Woods (d.Luke Massey)
The Zombie King (d.Aidan Belizaire)
Zombies of the Night (d.Stuart Brennan)

Hammer to film steampunk zombies

The news is all over the web that Hammer have announced they are going to film Cherie Priest's steampunk zombie novel Boneshakers. Here's the press release from Exclusive Media Group which really tells you everything you need to know. John Hilary Shepherd is writing the script.