Thursday 31 December 2015

12 terrific new British horror films scheduled for release in 2016

New Year's Eve is a time for looking back and looking forward.

In 2015 there were 83 new British horror films. Who knows how many there will be in 2016. Here's the first dozen confirmed titles, presented in chronological order of currently scheduled release date. I'm looking forward to seeing the ones I haven't seen yet.
  • The Carrier (dir. Anthony Woodley) UK DVD, Altitude, 25th January
    Eight people commandeer a plane to escape a global pandemic - but one of them is infected.
  • The Blood Harvest (dir. George Clarke) UK DVD, Left Film, 25th January
    Suspended cop investigates ritualistic serial killing and finds more than he expected.
  • Serial Kaller (dir. Dan Brownlie) US DVD, Wild Eye, 26th January
    Psycho stalks 'babes TV' models. With Dani Thompson, Suzi Lorraine and the wonderful Debbie Rochon.
  • Survival Instinct (dir. Steve Lawson) UK theatrical, Film Volt, 1st February
    Wrong place, wrong time: resourceful young woman vs determined hunter.
  • Evil Souls (dir. Roberto and Maurizio del Piccolo) UK DVD, Lace, 1st February
    Anglo-Italian Satanic torture porn.
  • Cryptic (dir. Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills) UK DVD, Spirit Entertainment, 1st February
    Eight gangsters guarding a coffin which may or may not have a vampire inside.
  • House of Afflictions (dir. Anthony S Winson) US DVD, Wild Eye, 23rd February
    Crime author mourning the loss of her child moves into a new home.
  • The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund (dir. Andrew Jones) UK DVD, 4Front, 7th March
    A priest and a Vatican investigator take a possessed housewife to a convent to perform an exorcism.
  • Fluid Boy (dir. Jason Impey) US DVD, Live Wire, 8th March
    Actress auditioning for a zombie film is tortured by an insane psycho.
  • The Unfolding (dir. Eugene McGing) VOD, Frighfest Presents, 14th March
    Found footage movie: ghost-hunters investigate haunted house.
  • The Hatching (dir. Michael Anderson) US DVD, Lions Gate, 15th March
    Andrew-Lee Potts investigates a killer crocodile loose in Somerset.
  • Dark Signal (dir. Ed Evers-Swindell) UK DVD, Kaleidoscope, 23rd May
    Spirit of murdered girl communicates via radio. Executive produced by Neil Marshall.

Checklist of 2015 British horror releases

How many have you seen?

For more details of films and releases see Part 1: Jan-May and Part 2: Jun-Dec
  • Aaaaaaaah! (d.Steve Oram)
  • Afterdeath (d.Robin Schmidt, Gez Medinger)
  • All Above Board (d.David Simpson)
  • Amityville Legacy – see Amityville Playhouse
  • Amityville Playhouse aka Amityville Theatre aka Amityville Legacy (d.John R Walker)
  • Amityville Theatre – see Amityville Playhouse
  • Asylum – see Psychotic
  • Awaiting (d.Mark Murphy)
  • Aylesbury Dead (d.William Axtell)
  • Backtrack – see Nazi Vengeance
  • Backtrack: Nazi Regression – see Nazi Vengeance
  • Bait aka The Taking (d.Dominic Brunt)
  • The Beast of Xmoor – see X Moor
  • Blood and Carpet (d.Graham Fletcher-Cook)
  • Bloodless – see Vampires
  • Bloodlust – see Vampires
  • Blood Moon (d.Jeremy Wooding)
  • Breakdown – see Eden Lodge
  • Bunker - see The Hoarder
  • Camera Trap (d.Alex Verner)
  • Christmas Slay (d.Steve Davis)
  • Conjuring the Dead  - see Valley of the Witch
  • Containment (d.Neil Mcenery-West)
  • The Coven (d.John Mackie)
  • Crying Wolf (dir. Tony Jopia)
  • Curse of the Witching Tree aka The Witching Tree (d.James Crow)
  • The Cutting Room (d.Warren Dudley)
  • Darkest Day (d.Dan Rickard)
  • Dark Night (d.Daniel Grant)
  • Dark Vision (d.Darren Flaxstone)
  • Dartmoor Killing (d.Peter Nicholson)
  • A Date with Ghosts (d.Jason MJ Brown)
  • Dead End (d.Rich Davis)
  • Demon (d.Mark Duffield)
  • Demon Baby - see Wandering Rose
  • The Doomsditch Demon (d.David Gunstone)
  • Dragonfly (d.Andrew Tiernan)
  • Drink Me (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • Eden Lodge aka Breakdown (d.Andreas Prodromou)
  • Ellie Rose – see The Haunting of Ellie Rose
  • Estranged (d.Adam Levins)
  • Exorcism (d.Lance Patrick)
  • The Expedition – see Extinction: Jurassic Predators
  • Extinction – see Extinction: Jurassic Predators
  • Extinction: Jurassic Predators aka Extinction aka The Expedition (d.Adam Spinks)
  • Fallen Soldiers (d.Bill Thomas)
  • The Falling (d.Carol Morley)
  • The Final Haunting (d.Flaminia Graziadei)
  • Friday Download: The Movie – see Up All Night
  • A Girl (d.Simon Black)
  • Ghost of Myself (d.The Aquinas)
  • The Hallow aka The Woods (d.Corin Hardy)
  • Haunting at the Rectory (d.Andrew Jones)
  • The Haunting of Ellie Rose aka Ellie Rose aka Not Alone (d.Tristan Versluis)
  • The Hoarder aka Bunker (d.Matt Winn)
  • Howl (d.Paul Hyett)
  • Hungerford (d.Drew Casson)
  • Impurity (d.Andy Remic)
  • It Never Sleeps (d.Matt Mitchell)
  • Judas Ghost (d.Simon Pearce)
  • Kick (d.Marcus Warren)
  • A Killer Conversation (d.David VG Davies)
  • KillerSaurus (d.Steve Lawson)
  • The Last House on Cemetery Lane (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Let Us Prey (d. Brian O’Malley)
  • Lucifer’s Night (d.Scott Jeffrey, Henry W Smith)
  • The Messenger (d.David Blair)
  • Monitor (d.David VG Davies)
  • Monsters: Dark Continent (d.Tom Green)
  • The Mothman Curse aka Who is Coming (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • Nazi Vengeance aka Backtrack aka Backtrack: Nazi Regression (d.Tom Sands)
  • Nightmare Hunters – see Young Hunters: The Beast of Bevendean
  • Nina Forever (d.Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine)
  • Nocturnal Activity (d.Georg E Lewis)
  • Not Alone – see The Haunting of Ellie Rose
  • Poltergeist Activity (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Pounce – see Silverhide
  • P.O.V. (d.Richard Anthony Dunford)
  • Psychotic aka Psychotic Asylum aka Asylum aka Shadows of Bedlam (d.Johnny Johnson)
  • Psychotic Asylum – see Psychotic
  • The Redwood Massacre (d.David Ryan Keith)
  • Robert aka Robert the Doll (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Robert the Doll – see Robert
  • Save Our Skins aka SOS: Save Our Skins (d.Kent Sobey)
  • Scopia – see The Scopia Effect
  • The Scopia Effect aka Scopia (d.Chris Butler)
  • Seven Cases (d.Sean J Vincent)
  • Shadows of Bedlam – see Psychotic
  • Silverhide aka Pounce (d.Keith R Robinson)
  • The Singing Bird Will Come (d.Iain Ross McNamee)
  • Snuff Reel (d.Will Metheringham) 
  • Soldiers of the Damned (d.Mark Nuttall)
  • SOS: Save Our Skins – see Save Our Skins
  • Stag Hunt (d.James Shanks)
  • Survivors (d.Adam Spinks)
  • The Taking – see Bait
  • Three’s a Shroud (d.David VG Davies, Dan Brownlie, Andy Edwards)
  • Tiger House (d.Thomas Daley)
  • Unhallowed Ground (d.Russell England)
  • Up All Night aka Friday Download: The Movie (d.John Henderson)
  • Valley of the Witch aka Conjuring the Dead (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Vampire Dawn (d.David Gunstone)
  • Vampires aka Bloodlust aka Bloodless (d.Richard Johnstone)
  • Wandering Rose aka Demon Baby (d.Corrie Greenop)
  • Wasteland (d.Tom Wadlow)
  • Who is Coming  - see The Mothman Curse
  • The Witching Tree – see Curse of the Witching Tree
  • The Woman in Black: Angel of Death (d.Tom Harper)
  • The Woods – see The Hallow
  • World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen (d.Bart Ruspoli, Freddie Hutton-Mills)
  • X Moor aka The Beast of Xmoor (d.Luke Hyams)
  • Young Hunters: The Beast of Bevendean aka Nightmare Hunters (d.Ewan Gorman)
  • Zombies in Hertford (d.Michael Curtis)

83 British horror films released in 2015, Part II

Welcome back to my run-through of every one of the 83 British horror films released in 2015. Yesterday I covered the first five months and the first 37 movies. So what came our way in June?

Well, there were two Andrew Jones films released that month for starters. Haunting at the Rectory was the first out of the stalls among several imminent features based on Borley Rectory, the supposedly ‘most haunted house in England’. And Poltergeist Activity was another haunted house tale, about a widower and his daughter trying to make a fresh start in Wales. Despite the implications of the title and the sleeve, this is not a found footage film. Nor should you pay any heed to the ghastly title and sleeve forced onto Corrie Greenop’s Wandering Rose by its US distributor. This is a sensitive, spooky, brilliantly acted, beautifully shot ghost story about a couple holidaying in Scotland before their baby arrives. The female character has only recently discovered she is pregnant, but some idiot decided to put a stock shot of a massive baby bump on the sleeve, photoshop an evil face pressing through the flesh, and call the whole thing Demon Baby. Ludicrous.

At least the synopsis on the back of the Demon Baby sleeve was accurate. Unlike Unhallowed Ground, a tale of six teenagers staying overnight in a posh school as part of their Army Cadet training, on the 350th anniversary of something awful happening. Directed by Russell England and written by teenager Paul Raschid (who also starred), this had a UK theatrical release in June then hit VOD, then DVD. Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment not only put a stock shot of a creepy cemetery on the front of the sleeve, they stuck some text on the back about friends seeking shelter from a storm in an abandoned building on the “wild and uninhabited moors.” Seriously, WT absolute F?

After several years in limbo, Mark Duffield’s gorgeous-looking Victorian horror Demon finally turned up on DVD in June, a rare example of Gothic in modern British horror. Aylesbury Dead is a self-released zombie picture which I only found out about as I was writing this, Set in the eponymous Buckinghamshire town, director William Axtell based it on his own self-published comics. There was a US release for 7 Cases, a crime/torture-porn mash-up from Sean J Vincent (The Addicted) starring Steven Berkoff, Samantha Fox and the lead singer of Republica; and also a US disc of Snuff Reel, the latest zero-budget sex'n'violence romp from Will Metheringham (The Photographer). But, by my own self-imposed rules (see yesterday’s post), all I can tell you about the UK disc of Warren Dudley’s The Cutting Room is that it’s more found footage crap.

July brought two disappointing war/horror hybrids with similar titles. Mark Nuttall’s Soldiers of the Damned had a squad of WW2 German soldiers exploring a Romanian forest for a mystical artefact. Lots of spooky things happen in the script by Nigel Horne (MD of distributor Safecracker Pictures) but none of them make any sense and the film suffers from careless anachronisms like a map that shows the Czech Republic. Bill Thomas’ historical zombie/war film Fallen Soldiers (filmed as Grist for the Mill) is set on the eve of Waterloo bit fails to do anything with its original premise. There are precious few zombies on show and the film isn’t helped by washed out cinematography that renders scarlet tunics a dull red.

Dark Night, an Evil Dead knock-off directed by Daniel Grant, had been stuck on the shelf even longer than Demon, unseen since 2006. In July 2015 Grant dug it out and Dark Night became the first British horror film distributed through BitTorrent! Ewan Gorman’s kidflick adventure Young Hunters: The Beast of Bevendean (filmed as Nightmare Hunters) had a VOD release and 88 Films put out a DVD of Steve Lawson’s old school dino romp KillerSaurus.

…Followed just one month later by a US release for Nocturnal Activity, a sexy ghost flick which Steve Lawson produced for ‘Georg E Lewis’. Check out the quote from me on this sleeve: "Plenty of nudity"! Andrew Jones was back yet again in August with his creepy doll movie Robert (filmed as Robert the Doll). Camera Trap, filmed on location in Nepal by nature documentarian Alex Verner, is probably really good, but when I make a rule I stick by it so I can only list its UK DVD release as more found footage crap. (See how unfair this is? You only have yourselves to blame.)

Neil McEnery-West’s Containment has a London tower block sealed off by mysterious figures in hazmat suits. Andreas Prodromou’s Eden Lodge doesn’t have any connection with Eden Lake except a copycat DVD sleeve; it has a young couple plus baby staying at a remote B&B when their car breaks down, and finding themselves surrounded by bloody murder. Both those titles had UK DVD releases in August, as did Thomas Daley's generic home invasion thriller Tiger House (set in Surrey but filmed in South Africa). And there was a very swift VOD release for All Above Board, a séance comedy directed by David Simpson (no relation) which was made, edited and released in 13 days!

Moving on to September, there were four British horror films released on US DVD. The Yanks got Luke Hyams’ X Moor - retitled as The Beast of Xmoor - a decently gripping tale of creature-hunters exploring Exmoor (filmed in Ireland) which scores points for not being yet more found footage crap. They also got Tom Wadlow’s terrific zombie feature Wasteland, plus Jeremy Wooding’s werewolf western Blood Moon (a UK disc followed in October) and a belated release for Three’s a Shroud, a fun anthology variously directed by David VG Davies, Dan Brownlie and Andy Edwards with a cast that includes genre faves Emily Booth, Dani Thompson and Suzi Lorraine.

Over here, we had our own moorland horror with a theatrical release for Peter Nicholson’s Dartmoor Killing, in which two female hikers have to deal with a charming psychopath. A limited cinema run too for David Blair’s psychic chiller The Messenger. And there was a British disc of Mark Murphy’s impressive Awaiting, in which a loon and his daughter take in a car crash victim and then don’t let him leave.

Nine films made their debut in October which is traditionally the busiest month, what with Halloween and all. The two high profile releases, which both played UK cinemas, were Paul Hyett’s disappointingly pedestrian Howl, which was touted as ‘werewolves on a train’ but made nothing of either the monsters or the setting. And Steve Oram’s unique, bizarre Aaaaaaah! in which humans act like apes. I saw Aaaaaaaah! at Leicester Phoenix and won a T-shirt!

Richard Johnstone’s vampire epic, filmed back in 2010, was variously called Bloodlust or Bloodless during production but eventually appeared on disc as… Vampires. Great work, DVD PR guys! There was also a UK DVD release for Adams Spinks’ zombie picture Survivors, while Bath-based film-maker David Gunstone self-released two micro-budget features, Vampire Dawn and The Doomsditch Demon. Matt Winn's The Hoarder, about a young woman stalked by a killer in an underground storage facility, had a German DVD release as Bunker. And there were three British titles in the first batch of Frightfest Presents VOD releases: Adam Levins’ Estranged (car crash victim returns to family and home she can’t remember), Robin Schmidt and Gez Medinger’s Afterdeath (five people wake up dead on a beach in Hell) and the aforementioned Aaaaaaaah!

Way back in 2009, my mate Tristan Versluis (who has done prosthetic effects for some of the best British horror of recent years) directed a chiller called Not Alone. In November 2015 this finally appeared on UK DVD as The Haunting of Ellie Rose, but I’m not sure this is the version Tris wanted. There was a theatrical release for Corin Hardy’s Anglo-Irish The Hallow (originally shot as The Woods) in which a conservationist and his family have to deal with ‘zombie fungus’ (it’s better than it sounds!). Flaminia Grazidei's psychological chiller The Final Haunting popped up on VOD this month. And David VG Davies, making his third appearance this year, finally released his psychotic take on the WIP genre Monitor, with Dani Thompson and Suzi Lorraine among the prison staff.

And so we come, at long last, to December – traditionally a quiet month. Dominic Brunt (off of Emmerdale) followed his zombie film Before Dawn with a gripping horror-thriller The Taking, which was retitled Bait by the time it hit UK DVD. (I’ve got a T-shirt of this too!) There was an American disc of Tony Jopia’s lycanthropic comedy Crying Wolf with a nice cameo by genre legend Dame Caroline Munro. Jopia previously brought us rock'n'roll horror Deadtime and is still hard at work on the Critters-esque Cute Little Buggers.

And to round off the year in a festive way, there was a VOD release for Steve Davis’ Santa-slasher romp Christmas Slay. Ho ho and indeed ho.

Eighty three feature films released in one year - crikey. Some in cinemas, some on DVDs you can buy in shops, some on foreign DVDs, some on DVDs you can only buy from the film-maker, some on VOD and at least one on BitTorrent. This is why keeping track of the British Horror Revival is such a massive job. But I do my best. If you're interested in British horror films, follow me on Twitter @BritHorrorRev for news and updates.

Here's a complete alphabetical checklist of all 83 movies. Let me know in the comments of anything you think I've missed.

[Addendum 1: Well, that was predictable. No sooner do I post this than I discover a January 2015 German DVD relwase for Marcus Warren's horror/football mash-up Kick. Make that 84.]

[Addendum 2: Zombies in Hertford, an amateur feature directed by Michael Curtis, uploaded to YouTube in July. That makes 85.]

83 British horror films released in 2015, Part I

For the past few years, my January Devil’s Porridge blog over on the Hemlock Books site has been a round-up of the previous year’s British horror releases. Now that Devil’s Porridge has come to a natural end, it makes sense for me to continue the tradition on my British Horror Revival blog. 2015 was a busy year. In fact so busy that I probably couldn’t have fitted it into my Hemlock word limit anyway…

The list I’m about to present to you (in two parts) tallies no fewer than 83(!) feature-length British horror films given their first commercial release - through a range of distribution channels - in 2015. (Just to be clear: festivals and other one-off screenings don't count as a 'release', by my criteria.)

This is the biggest annual round-up I have ever compiled, easily topping last year’s 69-er. More to the point, each year normally has about 10-15 additional titles which only come to light after the annual round-up is published (e.g. the 2014 master-list now stands at 81). So it’s not unreasonable to assume that somewhere around 90-95 British horror features actually made their debut in 2015.

Mind. Blown.

Without further ado, let’s kick off – as indeed the year kicked off – with the Harry Potter-free The Woman in Black: Angel of Death which hit UK theatres on New Year’s Day. Directed by Tom Harper (The Borrowers, Demons), this only underscored how much of the first film’s success was down to stunt casting. Forgettable, but of historical note to Hammerphiles as the company’s first sequel since 1974.

Lance Patrick’s feature debut Exorcism was released on UK DVD in January, the first of (too) many found footage films this year. Darren Flaxstone’s Dark Vision was somewhat better, mixing POV shots from a supposed live TV broadcast with more conventional direction. The story doesn’t quite hang together and the film’s unsure when to end, but it’s watchable and kind of fun.

One-man film factory Andrew Jones makes the first of an incredible five appearances in this list with Valley of the Witch, retitled Conjuring the Dead for its January US disc (and subsequent VOD through TheHorrorShow.TV). It’s a fairly standard ‘revenge of executed 17th century witch’ tale but good performances and taut storytelling make it worth a watch. There were Stateside releases this month too for Jason MJ Brown’s chaotic killer-spook-monks debut A Date with Ghosts and Kent Sobey’s SOS: Save Our Skins which plays like a comedy version of I am Legend.

Proportion Productions offered copies of their haunted house feature Lucifer’s Night (directed by Scott Jeffrey and Henry W Smith) as a reward in the Indiegogo campaign for their killer mermaid feature Deadly Waters, which I guess has to count as a (self-)release. Rich Davis’ microbudget zombie feature Dead End hit VOD in February and there was a DVD release for Simon Black’s arty, fetishistic descent into madness A Girl through genre stalwarts Redemption.

February brought VOD releases for two black and white films directed by actors. Graham Fletcher-Cook’s brilliant Blood and Carpet, set in a perfectly recreated 1960s East End, pulled a rug out from viewers with a twist ending and featured a cracking Mod soundtrack. Andrew Tiernan’s dark thriller Dragonfly was contemporary but also very effective.

Anyone looking for a creepy ghost story could do worse than Iain Ross McNamee’s atmospheric The Singing Bird Will Come, which also hit VOD this month. And they could do a lot better than Ghost of Myself, the latest collaboration between actress Melanie Denholme and self-styled ‘cult director’ Philip Gardiner (under his nom-de-disc ‘The Aquinas’). La Denholme also starred in A Killer Conversation (on US DVD this month), a three-hander about a guy torn between a ghastly ex-girlfriend and a violent intruder. David VG Davies (Animal Soup) helmed this one which also stars British horror regular Rudy Barrow.

Tom Sands’ Backtrack was released as Nazi Vengeance in the UK in February and as Backtrack: Nazi Regression in the States in May. Julian Glover is the name value in this tale of a young man recalling a past life as a WW2 German soldier on a secret mission in southern England. And Andrew Jones was back again with The Last House on Cemetery Lane (on US disc and VOD), in which a screenwriter moves into a haunted house with predictable results.

World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen, which hit UK DVD in March, is a zombie film from Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills who previously brought us Devil’s Playground. A documentary crew visiting the site of the Somme 100 years on unleashes an army of undead soldiers. The war/horror crossover schtick is almost as generic and dull as the found footage format.

John Mackie’s The Coven is – guess what? – another freaking found footage picture. Not only that, it was written by his wife and stars his three kids, making it effectively a self-indulgent home video that people are expected to pay £5.99 to watch. Seriously, unless your surname is Barrymore, cast your movie from further afield than your own living room. This is some rubbish about teenage wannabe witches which doesn’t actually rip off The Craft quite as much as the sleeve implies.

Filmed as The Expedition but retitled for its UK disc, Extinction: Jurassic Predators is a Lost World-lite dinosaur picture which inclu– Jesus fucking Christ, it’s another found footage movie! Found footage zombie soldiers, found footage teen witches, and a found footage T rex, all released in one month! What is wrong with you people? Stop it. Stop it now. It was a bad idea when it started and it has just got worse. From now on, any found footage film in this list gets the title and the phrase “more found footage crap” and nothing else, okay? Because I have had it with you lot, I really have.

Fucking fuckshit crap bollocks shitty found footage arsewank shitballs…

Moving on. Johnny Johnson’s film Shadows of Bedlam is a literal interpretation of the famous comment originally applied to the foundation of United Artists: “The lunatics have taken over the asylum.” Lots of running around, a weird little girl in the basement, an unexplained machine that makes a crazy guy even crazier. Lots of fun. Released as Psychotic in the States in March and as Psychotic Asylum over here in July. It Never Sleeps, the latest feature from Matt Mitchell (Gangsters, Guns and Zombies) hasn't been released on either side of the (North) Atlantic but did appear on DVD in South Africa in March. The protagonist of this one has to deal with the double whammy of a psychopath and the ghosts of previous victims.

Two belters to end with this month, both of which come laden with festival awards. The Blaine Brothers’ ‘fucked-up fairy tale’ Nina Forever is a comedy about a man haunted by his dead ex-girlfriend. Limited theatrical releases in the USA (March) and UK (October) for that one. And March saw the DVD debut (in Germany) of Brian O’Malley’s Let Us Prey. Pollyana McIntosh and Liam Cunningham star in this gripping and clever tale of a Scottish backwater falling under the evil influence of a mysterious stranger.

Those lucky Krauts also got first dibs on The Redwood Massacre, a superior slasher directed by David Ryan Keith (Attack of the Herbals). The German disc was available in April, three months ahead of the UK and US releases. Carol Morley’s classy The Falling meanwhile is one of the few horror films I actually saw in a cinema this year. Like Blood and Carpet it’s set in the 1960s (but in colour and in the countryside) as a strange fainting sickness affects a girls’ school. Shades of The Crucible, but subtle (unfulfilled) references to the occult give a Blood on Satan’s Claw sheen to the rural horror. The brilliant Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones and Doctor Who stars.

Sc-fi/fantasy novelist Andy Remic wrote and directed Impurity, a torture porn tale of three killers locked up in a cellar; self-released on DVD in April and on VOD two months later. Simon Pearce’s Judas Ghost, released in the States on DVD/VOD, was also written by a sci-fi novelist - in this case, Simon R Green, whom I used to know back in my SFX days. Initially conceived as a stage play, Judas Ghost is five ghost hunters with some video equipment in a haunted village hall but – pay attention, film-makers – it’s not found footage. That alone is enough to recommend it.

I’d like to recommend Hungerford, if only because this VOD release was directed by talented teenager Drew Casson, but by my own self-imposed rules all I can do is tell you it’s more found footage crap. On the other hand, I can recommend Richard Anthony Dunford’s P.O.V., which hit VOD through TheHorrorShow.TV in April. It could be lumped in with found footage but it’s not really because no-one runs around with a camera. Instead this tale of drug-induced demonic possession is seen through the eyes of the main character, an original conceit which works so much better than any amount of who-actually-edited-this? Go-Pro footage.

Chris Butler’s The Scopia Effect (on VOD in April, DVD coming soon) is a stylish and powerful descent into madness caused by hypnotic regression unlocking past lives which should really have stayed locked. On the other hand Keith R Robinson’s Silverhide (filmed as Pounce, released on UK DVD) is utter tosh about teenage journalists investigating military development of an invisible wolf-monster. Just awful.

Because nothing is ever simple, Amityville Legacy, Amityville Theatre and Amityville Playhouse are all the same film. And it’s British even though the IMDB lists it as Canadian. Filmed as Legacy, this had a limited UK theatrical release as Theatre in April before hitting DVD as Playhouse (here) and Theater (across the Pond). Director John R Walker is a busy film extra with hundreds of (non-)credits and a day job on the fish counter in the Dudley branch of Tesco!

Finally this month, two simultaneous titles from Richard Mansfield, one of the most fascinating film-makers currently working in Britain. Originally titled Who is Coming, The Mothman Curse is a tale of spooky dread among the shelves and filing cabinets of London’s Cinema Museum. Shot on a ten-pound CCTV camera, the grainy monochrome image is as disturbing as the MR James subtext. On the other hand, Drink Me (on US disc) is a seriously sexy gay vampire feature that gives David DeCoteau a run for his money.

May brought us a VOD release for Stag Hunt, the long-awaited second feature from James Shanks (The Devil’s Harvest): four friends spend a weekend on the moors where they encounter something big and fierce (but real – it’s not a werewolf). A great mixture of horror, action and darkly comic characterisation, this comes heartily recommended. As does Dan Rickard’s zombie epic Darkest Day, shot for tuppence ha’penny over several years. Incredible special effects and masterful use of digital composition create a film that looks a million times what it cost. That had a limited UK theatrical release in May just ahead of the DVD from Left Films.

James Crow’s Curse of the Witching Tree hit UK shelves this month. There’s a tree. It was cursed by a witch. Sounds a tad generic but it’s actually rather good and worth tracking down. After several false starts, Monsters: Dark Continent finally hit UK theatres in May. Like the first film it’s really sci-fi but it received enough interest from the horror press to tip it over the borderline (in my view). And the other – somewhat unlikely – British horror film playing cinemas this month was Up All Night, a spin-off from CBBC entertainment series Friday Download, about some kids staging a pop concert to save a haunted mansion from developers.

That was the first five months of 2015. Join me later today for the second half of the year and an alphabetical checklist of all 83 movies,

[Also see Part 2 for addenda.]

Monday 28 December 2015

Lions Gate to release Somerset crocodile movie The Hatching in March

The Hatching, Michael Anderson's comedy-horror about a crocodile loose in Somerset, gets a US release on 15th March 2016 through Lions Gate Entertainment.

You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

I wrote about the film, which stars Andrew-Lee Potts, Laura Aikman and Thomas Turgoose, just over a year ago when it premiered at the Bath Film Festival.

I'm not convinced that the image on the DVD sleeve is an actual still from the film. Not too many places on the Somerset Levels have water that deep and clear...

Films that sneaked out when no-one was looking: It Never Sleeps

You can never tell where in the world a British film is going to appear first. It Never Sleeps is the latest feature from Matt Mitchell (Gangsters, Guns and Zombies). Shot in 2014, it was on my ‘unreleased’ list until I checked the film’s Facebook page and discovered that a DVD of It Never Sleeps was released in March.

In South Africa.

If you’ve got 55 rands to spare (plus whatever the postage is to the UK), you can buy a copy here.

Synopsis: While suffering PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), young war veteran Joan Bryant has been battling terrible, recurring nightmares. But when her nightmares twist into horrific visions of a girl tortured to death by a murderous sociopath, Joan must face more than just her own fears. 

As time runs out, Joan discovers a clear light in the darkness that surrounds her, someone suffering the same visions as her, the same haunting nightmares! Together they work to discover the killer and save themselves.

But as they do, something dark and terrible begins to rise from Joan’s nightmares, linked to the girl that haunts them. This new monster invades Joan’s world. Night and day “The Beast”, a relentless and horrifying spirit of vengeance, terrorizes her.

It never sleeps… and neither should you!

The film stars Laura Swift (who mostly works as a stuntwoman and will be seen soon in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Fabrizio Santino (Hollyoaks, A Day of Violence) and Simon Matthews (Three’s a Shroud, The Dead Inside, Exorcism). Mitchell is currently at work on The Rizen.

Adding this to my master-list means the total number of British horror films released this year now stands at eighty!

Here's the creepy trailer:

It Never Sleeps - Trailer 2015 from Lost Eye Films on Vimeo.

Sunday 27 December 2015

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

Everything turns up eventually but sometimes it can take a long time to discover this. Within is a British horror feature that was shot in Prague a decade ago, trade screened at the Cannes Market in May 2005. Then it disappeared and for ten years it has been on my MIA list. Yesterday, while browsing around the web, I discovered to my amazement that Within had actually been released on DVD in Italy in November 2012. Or possibly March 2010.
This prompted further digging. The IMDB gives alternative titles for the film in Spain and Brazil, listing both releases as 2007. I can find two different Brazilian sleeves, retitled O Escolhido (‘The Chosen’) but no confirmed dates, although there’s a user review from a Brazilian guy on the IMDB dated March 2007 so I’ll go with that. The Spanish release as Atrapados en el Infierno (‘Trapped in Hell’) was January 2008, according to
This of course means that Within is yet another film that would have been included in Urban Terrors had I known. Maybe one day I’ll do an expanded and revised version.

The film was jointly directed by Merlin Ward (Out of Bounds/Dead in the Water – another title that could be added to the second edition if it ever happens) and American producer John A Curtis (Xtro II, Laserhawk). The IMB lists it as a UK/Canada/Italy/Czech co-production but it looks British to me.

Here’s the synopsis: Brad, Christina, T.K. and Kelly are on a post-graduation trip to Europe. Unfortunately, what starts out as a dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. Upon entering a 14th century castle, the friends find themselves trapped in a horrifying alternate realm where violent hallucinations overtake them. A stranger emerges, shocking them with the reality of their terrifying fate; one must stay behind - alone forever within the torturous stone walls, in order for the rest of the group to escape. As time runs out, hope and reason disappear, anarchy takes over and extreme violence erupts. Will it be male strength or female guile that will ultimately determine who will bear the terrible fate?

Tammi Sutton's Whispers is finished and has had its world premiere

Tammi Sutton is an American film-maker who worked in various capacities on a bunch of fun early noughties Full Moon titles including Hell Asylum, Dead and Rotting, The Dead Hate the Living and Killjoy 2 – which she directed.

She has four other feature director credits on her CV: Sutures, Secrets of Life, Isle of Dogs and Whispers. The last two of these are actually British productions.

Isle of Dogs, which was written by Sean Hogan (Little Deaths, The Devil’s Business) had a VOD release in 2014. It’s a violent crime thriller but it’s horrific enough to have played Frightfest and Shriekfest. But Whispers has been on my MIA list since it was shot way back in June/July 2011 and I had almost given up hope.

Well, it seems that Sutton shot (or re-shot) more footage for Whispers last year, to judge by the dates of various tweets:

I have just discovered that Whispers had its world premiere at the RIP Horror Film Festival in LA in October along with another new British horror, Granny of the Dead. (I know this ‘news’ is three months late, but hey, at least I investigate things on this blog instead of just slavishly reproducing press releases like most horror websites.)

Whispers stars lads’ mag model turned actress Keeley Hazell, Barbara Nedeljakova from Hostel and Strippers vs Werewolves (who also starred in Isle of Dogs), Craig Rees (who was also in Sutures plus episodes of The X-Files and Angel, although he’s British), Diane Ayala Goldner (Halloween II, Hatchet III) and Lynn Lowry (Shivers, Cat People). Here are some stills that Sutton posted onto Facebook:

The only synopsis I can find is this single sentence on the IMDB: "A young couple grieving the recent death of their daughter move to the countryside where they are haunted by their tragedy and a sinister darkness."

I'm delighted to finally move Whispers from section 3 of my British horror master-list (films that were started but may not have been completed) to section 2 (films that have had at least one screening somewhere) and I look forward to finally shifting it into section 1 when it eventually hits DVD or VOD. Isle of Dogs took just over three years from its premiere to its release. Hopefully Whispers won't take that long. Also, according to the ever 'reliable' IMDB, Sutton is now working on an 'untitled Whispers sequel'.

NB. There is a trailer on YouTube claiming to be for this film but it's actually for an American TV series called The Whispers. This is the actual teaser trailer which producer/composer Tim Worman posted onto Vimeo earlier this year.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

10 great British horror films released in 2015 (that you almost certainly missed)

More than 70 new British horror features were released in 2015. Next month I'll post a complete run-down. But for now here's my top ten. How many have you seen? How many were you even aware of?

Blood and Carpet
dir. Graham Fletcher-Cook
Visually stunning monochrome drama set in a perfectly recreated 1960s East End which trips you up at the end when you realise you’ve been watching a horror film all along and didn’t realise it. Released to Vimeo on Demand in February.

Darkest Day
dir. Dan Rickard
Shot in Brighton over several years, this micro-budget labour-of-love zombie-fest combines incredible special effects with genuinely gripping action. A limited theatrical release in May was followed by a DVD through Left Films.

A Girl
dir. Simon Black
Extraordinary psychological fetish-horror chronicling a young woman’s descent into sexual madness, Released by Redemption in January as part of their new wave of Satanic Sluts titles.

dir. Steve Lawson
Cheap’n’cheerful genetically recreated dino romp. Imagine Jurassic Park shot on a Loughborough industrial estate. Bonkers fun. Released by 88 Films in July; it’s been their second biggest seller this year!

The Mothman Curse
dir. Richard Mansfield
Shot ‘blind’ on a ten pound CCTV camera, the grainy monochrome photography only adds to the spookiness of this loosely MR James-ian tale filmed in London’s Cinema Museum. Wild Eye Releasing gave it a DVD/VOD release in the States in April.

dir. Richard Anthony Dunford
Shot entirely through the main character’s eyes, like a horror version of Peep Show, this is a ‘found footage’ film for people who don’t like found footage films. With a shocking ending that will leave your jaw agape. VOD release through TheHorrorShow.TV in April.

Stag Hunt
dir. James Shanks
Four friends spending a weekend on the moors run afoul of something very large and dangerous in this gripping horror-thriller laced with just enough black humour. Popped up on Amazon Prime in May.

Three’s a Shroud
dir. David VG Davies, Dan Brownlie and Andy Edwards
Cracking anthology with a great cast of fan favourites (Emily Booth! Eleanor James! Dani Thompson! Suzi Lorraine!). Wild Eye Releasing put it onto DVD and VOD in September.

Demon Baby
dir. Corrie Greenop
Powerful and creepy ghost tale shot amid beautiful Scottish scenery. Don’t let the crappy sleeve and retitle fool you (it was made as Wandering Rose). American VOD/DVD from Entertainment One in June.

dir. Tom Wadlow
Bleak and brilliant zombie film that stands out from a crowded pack, not least through an amazing lead performance. US DVD through Midnight Releasing in September.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Post-antibiotic thriller The Carrier comes to DVD in January

The Carrier is the second feature from Anthony Woodley, who previously brought us Arctic military scifi-horror Outpost 11 (not to be confused with the unrelated Nazi zombie-ghost Outpost trilogy). The film hits DVD in the UK on 25th January through Altitude Film Distribution.

Synopsis: Despite all the warnings about the overuse of antibiotics and efforts by the pharmaceutical companies to keep pace, an antibiotic resistant pandemic decimates the planet. Eight survivors escape on a dilapidated 747. Little is known about the effect of the outbreak, just that it is safer to be in the air than on the ground. What lengths are the passengers and crew prepared to go to in order to survive? Are they safe to land, and what will they find when they do? Can they outrun the pandemic, where every minute counts? Think 'Contagion', meets 'The Road', set on a 747...

Shot in 2013 as Artificial Horizon, the movie was test screened in June 2014 and premiered at Raindance in September 2015. If you’ve read this story you’ll see that this is suddenly absolutely bang on topical (in a slightly terrifying way).

The cast includes Edmund Kingsley (Allies, The Reverend), Joe Dixon (The Mummy Returns), Karen Bryson (Shameless) and Jack Gordon (Truth or Dare, Panic Button, The Devil’s Business).

Speaking of Panic Button (on which Woodley was assistant art director), the DVD sleeve for The Carrier is curiously familiar...

Saturday 12 December 2015

Blade Hunter Indiegogo campaign is gogo (a week late)

It's a week later than promised but the Indiegogo campaign for Richard Driscoll's "new dystopian sci-fi/horror film in the style of BLADE RUNNER" is now live, Here it is.

I won't go into any detail - you can read it for yourself. And be sure to watch the video (don't worry - there's no clips of Driscoll himself in it).

He's hoping to raise $150,000 in 30 days. Good luck on that, Dick! And although Indiegogo does have a bit that says "Do you think this campaign contains prohibited content? Let us know." I have no intention of reporting his empty promises, untrue claims and violations of copyright. I'm having fun watching how far this thing goes.

If you want to pony up five grand to be an executive producer - or just 12 bucks to get a free download of the film - be sure you're fully aware of what you're getting into first.