Tuesday 30 June 2015

The Xlitherman returns on 1st September

Back in 2009 there was a British horror movie called The Xlitherman, starring BHR regular Marysia Kay. I've never seen the film and never tracked down a copy.

Well, my search is nearly at an end because director Peter Lancett is working on a new version, called The Xlitherman - Remaster, and a release date of 1st September has now been announced over on his Facebook page.

Synopsis:After his girlfriend leaves him, Martyn hides his disturbing slide to to the edge of insanity behind a mask of repressed normality. Martyn is an everyday man of the suburbs. In fact, he's just like you.

Martyn is just like you: that's how he thinks you see him. He lives in the suburbs; he goes to work and comes home again. Just like you in fact. But Martyn has a secret. Martyn is obsessed with murder and magic. He admires people like Peter Kurten, Charlie Manson,  night stalker Richard Ramirez - and of course, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

Martyn visits notorious locations forever linked with the horrors of the past, particularly Saddleworth Moor where Brady and Hindley tortured, murdered and buried their child-victims. And if you cross him, perhaps he even visits your home while you sleep. Still, everyone has a few secrets, right? Even you. Martyn is no different from you after all.

Things change when Sandra appears - seemingly from nowhere - and Martyn is goaded into revealing his true nature. Now, the suburbs will never be safe again.

Here's a description of the new version from Lancett's webste:

The radical new cut features newly shot and never before seen footage, using recaptured and remastered HD footage.

The sound design, created by Mark Rimington is completely fresh and features original music from Mark Rimington, Steve Max and music composed and performed by talented Hollywood-based musician Michelle Macedo of Macedo Music, recorded mixed and mastered by Mj Denton of MoonGold Records, Los Angeles.

The Xlitherman - Remaster will be available on various Video on Demand platforms

I'm looking forward to finally getting to tick this one off my list. Here's the trailer for the original version:

Monday 29 June 2015

Me and my son in trailer for Coventry zombie film Immune

Last year young TF Simpson and I went over to Coventry to help with the shooting of a teaser trailer for a new zombie feature Immune, directed by Steven Tayler.

That trailer has now been released and you can watch it on YouTube. Find out more about Immune on the Halogen Entertainment website.

Here's a couple of grabs of Simpson pere et fils...

Friday 26 June 2015

Zombie Women of Satan 2 very, very close to completion

I just finally got round to watching Zombie Women of Satan - only five years after it was released - and although I probably haven't got time to write a full review, I can record here that I laughed like a drain and enjoyed it enormously.

So I thought I would check on the progress of the sequel, cunningly entitled Zombie Women of Satan 2, which was shot back in July 2012 with some pick-ups in August 2013 and again in January 2014.

In March this year, the ZWOS Facebook page announced that "Zombie Women of Satan 2 is about 8 weeks away from being fully complete", but because these things always take longer than you think, a more recent post on 12 June reads "Well things are finally progressing again after a few delays ... ZWoS 2 should be going to get the colour grading done in July .. then we'll be able to start looking for distribution deals for it "

The sequel is the directorial debut of Chris Greenwood who co-wrote the script with Warren Speed, who of course returns as Pervo the Clown. Kathy Paul returns as Mother Zandler. Victoria Broom and Victoria Hopkins are listed on the IMDB page but it's not clear if they're actually in the film.

The cast does include Dani Thompson (Serial Kaller, Three's a Shroud), Big Brother alumnus Pete Bennett (The Mothertown, Meet the Cadavers) and Michael Fielding, brother/stooge of Mighty Boosh weirdo Noel Fielding.

Here's hoping that ZWOS2 emerges soon and that it's as good as the first one.

And if you still haven't seen the first ZWOS, here it is, legitimately, on YouTube:

Dark Vision available worldwide through Amazon, iTunes etc

Darren Flaxstone's Dark Vision, which I reviewed just over a year ago, is now available worldwide on a variety of distribution platforms that I don't understand.

Here's the press release:


In ‘Dark Vision’ the fun indie horror from Bristol based Stray Spark Productions.

Written, directed and edited by Darren Flaxstone, co-written and starring Bernie Hodges, Dark Vision is a charming chiller, where gothic horror meets modern to create a whole load of hokum. This film has been described as a horror film for people who don’t like horror. It will make you laugh, jump and scream!

So what's it all about? Well there is more in the darkness than you know... Paranormal TV presenter Spencer Knights, (Bernie Hodges), puts his crew in peril whilst trying to win his own series as part of the paranormal competition Dark Vision. Find out what manifestations lay in wait for his team inside Baylock's Folly, a place with a dark history and possibly darker present. Who is its mysterious caretaker Clem, (Judith Haley), and what are the twisted motivations of the "Dark Vision Hub"?

Messer's Flaxstone & Hodges present their own brand of fun horror, which they hope will intrigue, scare, but above all entertain. There are some fantastic performances from the female characters. Suzie Latham plays feisty camerawoman Jo alongside Alicia Ancel as glamorous ex-soap star Marva Clewes. There is also a supremely creepy performance from Judith Haley as caretaker Clem. Oliver Park takes the role of hunky geek Xan and talented director/actor Simon Pearce stars as naive camera operator Kev.

The film has played numerous festivals around the world and won Best Picture, with Bernie Hodges being nominated for Best Actor, at the Coventry Film Festival. Judith Haley won Best Supporting Actress at the Tabloid Witch Awards. It was also nominated for Best Film, Screenplay and Cinematography at the Claw awards and had a nomination for Best Sound from the Royal Television Society awards 2014. Dark Vision has also been nominated for Best Film at the 2015 Dark Scream Festival.

Dark Vision is currently available on Amazon Prime in the US
(http://amzn.to/1xSj7JR) and Worldwide on iTunes, (https://itun.es/gb/3trv5),  Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox and Vudu.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Looking forward to… The Girl with Two Masks

I honestly don’t know whether this new British horror feature will be good or bad but one thing I know for sure is it will be different. Take a look at the brand new trailer which just went online today.

The brief synopsis on Facebook says "A pub haunted by the spirit of a contortionist tortured hundreds of years ago by villagers testing her evil abilities.

The debut feature from director Sam Casserly, The Girl with Two Masks stars Nick Hayles, Rachel Laboucarie, Stephen Sheridan, Sian Denereaz, Roxi Gregory and Lauren Mills. It was shot September to November last year. There was a cast and crew screening back in April and the film is now going out to festivals.

The feature is loosely based on this six-minute short which Casserly shot back in 2010:

Wednesday 17 June 2015

New BBC show looking for horror shorts

The Fear is a new BBC3 series which will showcase short horror films (2-4 minutes). The films will screen to a cinema audience who will vote for their favourites, and the winning film-maker will receive funds for their next project.

Want to be involved? Check the details below and.or go to www.facebook.com/bbcthefear

Tuesday 9 June 2015

An uncredited cameo in The Seasoning House

In the cast list of Paul Hyett's brilliant The Seasoning House, you'll find Eddie Oswald credited as 'Boiler Room Thug'. Thanks to regular reader 'Paddie' for pointing out that this is actually a pseudonymous cameo by a well-known figure in British horror cinema.

Tonto British horror fans may recognise that 'Eddie Oswald' is a reference to Dog Soldiers. If you haven't seen it in a while, here's Sir Sean Pertwee delivering the memorable 'Eddie Oswald speech':
When I watched The Seasoning House it was at a cast and crew preview screening and I was too wrapped up in the bleak, intense story to notice any uncredited cameos. But I dug out a copy, fast forwarded to the boiler room scene, and lo and behold...
There he is, looking at Rosie Day and then being told "Lock... the door." by Sean P. Eddie Oswald himself: Mr Neil Marshall.

'Haunting of Eastwood Residence' shooting this week in Leicester

Nottingham-based film-maker Anthony M Winson, who previously brought us atmospheric ghost story The Haunting of Baylock Residence has moved to a new address for his new film - The Haunting of Eastwood Residence.

Winson and his Mr Stitch Films gang are shooting right here in Leicester this week. The film stars Simon Crudgington - also in Darren Lynch's Ouija, which is now called N9ne (sic) - and Kelly Goudie.

Winson's most recent feature, House of Afflictions (also with Crudgington) has had a couple of screenings but is not yet generally available, although some of his shorter films are online including The Witching Hour, a 50-minute short feature.

You can keep up to date with everything at www.facebook.com/mrstitchfilms

Update: The film us now called Unholy. And here's the first still:

Monday 8 June 2015

Psychotic (formerly Asylum) released as Psychotic Asylum

Johnny Johnson's debut feature was known at one stage as Asylum but was released in the States in March as Psychotic. On 13th July, High Fliers will release the picture in the UK as... Psychotic Asylum.

A film title hasn't been this confusing since LD50 aka Lethal Dose aka LD50: Lethal Dose.

It was shot back in 2012 as Shadows of Bedlam, which to my mind is an awesome title. Ah well.

The film stars Steve Wynne, Kristina Dargelyte and Rosie Cochrane with special effects by Simon Rowling (Woman in Black 2, Predator Dark Ages).

Find out more at www.facebook.com/Psychoticmovie

Three's a Shroud DVD announced

Back in December 2013 I reviewed low-budget anthology Three's a Shroud after viewing it at that year's British Horror Film Festival. Out of the blue, the film has now, finally, appeared on Amazon US, scheduled for a 29th September (Michaelmas!) release through Wild Eye Pictures.

Variously directed by Dan Brownlie (Serial Kaller), David VG Davies (A Killer Conversation) and Andy Edwards (Ibiza Undead), the film stars quite the collection of 21st century horror ladies: Suzi Lorraine, Dani Thompson, Emily Booth and Eleanor James plus Emma Lock (The Human Centipede II), Sophia Disgrave (Rock Band vs Vampires, Spidarlings), Victoria Broom (Stalled), Aisling Knight (Exorcism) and Morigan Hell (Nature Morte).

Eleanor James actually retired from acting in 2012 but there are still numerous films of hers awaiting release, including WebKam, Chinese Burns and Eden Burning.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Unhallowed Ground gets cinema release and ludicrous DVD packaging

Unhallowed Ground, which I reviewed back in January, opens theatrically this week. It will screen at the Showcase in Newham, East London from Friday 12th June, and then will open in five more Showcase cinemas on Monday 15th June.

The other locations are Bristol Avonmeads, Derby Foresters Park, Coventry, Manchester and Glasgow. There was a preview screening at the Waterman Arts Centre in Brentford last Monday, attended by some of the cast and crew.

The VOD release follows on 29th June with the DVD on 13th July, and – whoa, hang on! Seriously? That’s the DVD cover?

There is no creepy old building like that in this film. Also no graveyard, no crows and no axes in treestumps. And here’s the synopsis off Amazon. It reads like a completely different film!

As the lone moon rises over wild and uninhabited moors (film is set in posh school, not on moors, and the first act happens in bright daylight), a group of friends (schoolmates, not friends) find themselves lost and desperate for shelter (no-one is lost, and there’s plenty of shelter in the school) when they arrive at the door of an abandoned building (no abandoned buildings here), long rumoured to hide a secret vault full of treasured artefacts (no rumours, no vault, the treasured artefacts are in the school library). Hastening through the creaking doors (some doors may creak), the group begin their wait for the darkest hours of the night to pass; but as the wind (it’s a calm night) tears through the trees outside (yes, there are some trees in the school grounds), the teenagers quickly realise they are not alone (at this point, the synopsis finally starts to resemble the film). When a gang of (ie. two) burglars suddenly arrive in search of the vault, unexplained noises, apparitions and disturbing whispers echo through the empty corridors. The house (school) is stirring and as the ghostly noises take a deadly, malevolent turn, the teenagers realise that they must escape both the spirits and the burglars or become victims before the night is over...

Massive misrepresentation which is pretty much guaranteed to deter anyone who might enjoy this film and piss off anyone who does pick it up. An epic fail by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

Friday 5 June 2015

Killersaurus plays support to Jurassic Park

Well, sort of.

To celebrate the release of Jurassic World, Midlands Movies and the Firebug Film Club are organising a free Jurassic Park screening/party next Wednesday, 10 June, in Leicester.

Get down to the Firebug Bar from 7pm and you'll have the chance to not only see the original 1993 classic film (in non-fucked-about 2D) but also the premiere of the brand new trailer for locally shot dino-epic Killersaurus.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Critiquing the Critic: 'English Gothic' and the British Horror Revival

  • “For anyone interested in British horror movies, it’s a rather startling fact that more horror films have been produced in the UK in the first 15 years of the 21st century than in the entirety of the 20th century.” – MJ Simpson, Scream magazine, May 2015
  • “It really is a renaissance because there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. Far more in fact – I think, probably, I’ve never done the sums – but probably far more than were produced in the entire 20th century put together.” – Jonathan Rigby, YouTube, May 2015

I’ve gotta admit, it feels good to be vindicated like that.

So I just got hold of a copy of Jonathan Rigby’s new book, English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015, an updating of his definitive and justifiably lauded 2000 book English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Although I probably will (re-)read the whole thing at some point – I understand there are plenty of updates and additions to the main text – what especially interested me was, of course, the new final chapter about the British Horror Revival.

It goes without saying that the book overall is another magnificent work, in both its research and its writing. Rigby is an astute and knowledgeable critic, and if I don’t always agree with his assessment, well that’s the nature of criticism. You may find this hard to believe, but there are some people who even disagree with some of my own reviews.

But my interest, as the author of the first book ever to document the revival of 21st century British horror, is in how my assessment of the BHR compares with that of the second book to come along. (Frustratingly, given that Signum Books clearly have their publicity machine worked out better than Hemlock, I suspect most people who read Rigby’s final chapter will think it’s the first ever work about the films therein. My best hope is that, intrigued by some of the titles, people google them and find my site and hence discover Urban Terrors.) My point is that, if the following seems like nitpicking, that’s because it is precisely that: pointing out small omissions, errors and contentions that do not in any way detract from the book’s overall quality, which leaves me, as both horror movie fan and fellow author, in awe.

‘Part Seven: Risen from the Grave 2000-2015’ runs for 56 pages (about a sixth of the book) and does indeed cover “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of titles. But it also omits a great deal as well. Which is not too surprising as (a) keeping track of this stuff is nigh on impossible, and (b) Rigby and I have slightly different definitions of what constitutes a ‘British horror film’. He includes a lot of movies which have some UK financial interest but are otherwise basically foreign (he’s fond of the phrase ‘euro-pudding’). Personally I’ve got no interest in the likes of Resident Evil or Doom, just because one of the cheques was signed by a Briton, and I don’t think they’re germane to discussion or analysis of British horror films. In a similar vein, Rigby includes some films that seem very borderline in their ‘horror’-ness. But neither of us is right or wrong. As I made clear in the Author’s Note in my book, everyone has their own definition. (Also, he dates films by ‘year of production’ so some films released in the early 2000s – like Blood, The 13th Sign, The Big Finish and The Asylum – are covered in 'Part Six, 1976-1999'.)

Where we do differ significantly is in our approach to distribution. Rigby clings dogmatically to the idea that a film isn’t really a film unless it has a theatrical release. Although he eventually acknowledges that DVD and VOD are common ways of distributing films, he still seems to find some sort of distinction between those movies which play cinemas and those which don’t. This is an anachronistic and unhelpful approach, based as it is on the presumption that every film aims for theatrical and those which don’t play the big screen have failed in some way; that they haven’t managed to ‘achieve’ that all-important cinema distribution (or at least, a showing at Frightfest, which seems to be an alternative touchstone here).

“In 2001,” writes Rigby, “a couple of titles actually made it into West End cinemas: The Hole in April and Urban Ghost Story (albeit only for a moment and three years late).” This displays not only his prejudice against non-theatrical distribution but also his Londoncentric view, as if a West End cinema was somehow better than any other. The reason why Urban Ghost Story only played the West End for a moment was because the film-makers were roadshowing two prints of the film around the entire country, an innovative and influential distribution model to be applauded, not apologised for. (Film writers based in the South East often fail to realise that for the vast majority of the UK, a ‘release’ in London is no release at all. Until the advent of digital projection, it was a given to most British cinema fans that magazines and newspapers would be full of frustrating reviews of interesting-sounding films which had been theoretically ‘released’ but could never be seen because they were never going to play anywhere outside the capital.)

Which is not to say that Rigby ignores DTV films. Just a couple of pages later he is writing about The Devil’s Tattoo (which never saw any big screen action, not even festivals) and The Gathering, which he calls ‘straight to DVD’ but which did in fact play theatrically around much of Europe (and I’m not sure whether a ten-year delay counts as straight to anything!).

But elsewhere we find “2005 was to offer a healthier ration of theatrical releases”, “earlier that year, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them theatrical outings had gone to”, “made their fleeting visits to UK cinemas” etc. To judge a film’s success by how long it spends in a cinema was a valid metric last century, but in today’s world it’s like calculating the record charts based on vinyl sales. “It would be wrong, however,” writes Mr R of the ‘70%’ of UK horror films that he estimates don’t play theatrically, “to assume that all these films bear the excruciating hallmarks of home videos; many do, of course, but occasionally something extraordinary emerges from these uncharted seas.” I’m sorry but that comes across as incredibly patronising, even if it does lead into several paragraphs about The Invisible Atomic Monsters from Mars and Kuru/Claire, two superb films which have never been seen anywhere except YouTube and which have to date received almost no coverage outside of my own personal support for them.

My point is that it seems curiously perverse to keep holding up cinema distribution as some sort of kitemark when Rigby not only cites excellent films like these which have bypassed cinema altogether (and indeed DVD and even VOD) but also gives lots of examples of truly awful films (Spirit Trap, Octane and Messages to name but three) which did play cinemas. The truth is that many modern films simply don’t consider, or even want, a cumbersome, expensive theatrical release which by definition can only ever reach a tiny fraction of the potential audience. And many films which do ‘play theatrically’ are in fact just having a couple of showings so they can justify a West End press screening and thereby get some publicity in the dailies to promote the DVD. What then the value of the cinema release as any sort of indicator?

Enough of my distribution arguments; what about Rigby’s selection? Having read the chapter, I did a slightly anal thing and compared my post-2000 master list (562 films and counting) with the English Gothic index and identified about 200 commercially released British horror films not mentioned in the book. Countering this, in fairness, there are many, many titles in the text that I don’t recognise and I have a long task ahead of me cross-checking all of those and seeing if they match my criteria as well as Rigby’s. [But see below - MJS]

You can’t fault the man on topicality and he’s bang up to date, listing several films released in 2015, including Dark Vision, A Date with Ghosts, Judas Ghost, Blood and Carpet, Let Us Prey and Wandering Rose. On the other hand, it’s clear that to some extent he’s having to take a gamble here as he also lists a whole bunch of films that have not yet had any sort of release or screening, because they’re either in post or in limbo. These include Cute Little Buggers, Convention of the Dead, Gozo, A Reckoning, Forest of the Damned 2, Not Alone/Ellie Rose, Jack the Last Victim, Rock Band vs Vampires and Tag. Some of those, I’m fairly sure haven’t even been finished. Certainly The Haven, Nine Tenths and Zombies of the Night, all listed herein, were never completed, are never going to be completed and are never, ever going to be seen.

It would be wrong to expect English Gothic to mention everything, although Rigby includes several lists of titles which suggests he’s trying to at least name-check as many films as possible (and also gives a clear indication of what he has and hasn’t seen). Nevertheless, there are curious omissions. No mention of Sacred Flesh for example – that played the West End – or The Disappearance of Alice Creed (very much marketed as horror). Nor It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (surely significant as a rare crossover between British horror cinema and British Asian cinema), Jonathan Glendening’s debut SNUB, Darren Ward’s gory A Day of Violence, Simon Rumley’s Red, White and Blue (maybe too American), Simon Pegg misfire A Fantastic Fear of Everything, or Monsters and its sequel (maybe too sci-fi). No room at the inn for Patrol Men, Piggy, Outpost 11, Dementamania, Treehouse or The House of Him, all of them better publicised and better distributed than some of the titles that did make it into the book. It’s a truly eclectic selection. The Knackery is listed but none of George Clarke’s other films; only two of Philip Gardiner’s many pictures; a name-check of Sick Bastard is the only allusion to Jason Impey, the most prolific British film-maker of this century.

Some very important films are mentioned but given short shrift. To be fair, I only recognised the historical significance of Demonsoul a couple of weeks ago, but to dismiss it as a “bargain-basement soft-porn epic” does Rigby no favours, indicating that he has not only not seen it, he’s not even bothered finding out if it’s worth seeing. Nature Morte, a rare example of a British giallo, is merely a “fetishistic sex-and-death contemporary” (of, somewhat bizarrely, the utterly dissimilar Venus Drowning). The Devil’s Music and Resurrecting ‘The Street Walker’, two of the very best BHR titles which somebody really should have recommended Rigby take the time to see, are in a short list of BHR mock-docs. And Richard Driscoll’s four horror features are covered in a single paragraph – which is a shame as they are always fun to both read about and indeed write about (if not to actually, you know, watch).

Because some films get only a name-check, curious anomalies arise. Why, for example, is formulaic crap like Spirit Trap worthy of detailed description when Hacked Off – significant as the first ever British teen slasher – is just a title on a list? (One of the very, very few comments that I genuinely disagreed with was: “The obvious reference point for Jonathan Glendening’s 13Hrs was the dreadful Spirit Trap.” Eh? Two more dissimilar films it’s hard to imagine.) Possibly Rigby had a word limit from Signum (though his is a much weightier tome than mine) but was there really no room to mention even parenthetically such fascinating facts as Decay being filmed around the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and South of Sanity in Antarctica? I’m also disappointed that, though he cites directors and mentions actors by name, he almost entirely ignores writers and producers, sidelining people like James Moran and Jonathan Sothcott who have clearly made significant contributions to British horror.

This is, as I say, nitpicking. Let me balance it by saying it was a delight to find Rigby writing about films that I have personally championed like Red Kingdom Rising and The Fallow Field. While he perforce deals with NuHammer at length, it’s gratifying to see that he is not in thrall to the company and doesn’t hold up The Woman in Black as the sine qua non of 21st century horror. Nor does he particularly worship at the feet of the seriously over-rated Ben Wheatley. Without adding another 200 pages to the book, he has no choice but to scamper through the 21st century, covering the obvious biggies (Shaun, 28DL, Descent) and then plucking examples of good and bad here and there. If this makes people realise how much is out there, and acknowledge that there is indeed a British Horror Revival, then that’s great, even if most people will buy this book because it has Christopher Lee on the front and lots of stuff inside about Hammer and its contemporaries.

And there really is much to enjoy in this last chapter (as in the rest of the book): astute and witty criticism that is as pleasurable as it is incisive. Rigby calls Anazapta, for example: "a charmingly absurd mediaeval mystery which brought Jon Finch back to bloodspurting chainmail battles in a Welsh setting three decades after Polanski's Macbeth." He observes that the 'fallen angels' in Forest of the Damned, "give us a good idea of what would have happened had Jonathan Harker gone skinny-dipping with the brides of Dracula." Wilderness, he cannily points out, "has the great good fortune of having real teenagers in it, unlike the 20-somethings normally seen in such circumstances," I'm not entirely convinced by his suggestion that the plot of Anglo-Romanian europudding Incubus "was loosely modelled on that of LD50" but it's an intriguing idea...

Three points to finish on. Returning to the theme of distribution, Rigby laments on more than one occasion that it’s a shame people aren’t getting to see some of these films. Well, I’ve got to just challenge this head on. Decay has been watched on YouTube a staggering 4,450,000 times, and that’s not including those who have watched it on Vimeo or in hi-def on the film’s own website. Now, the average cinema ticket price in the UK is £6.54. (I know that sounds low, but it’s box office divided by bums on seats so includes people who see things for free on Orange Wednesdays etc.) That’s equivalent to a box office gross for this zero-budget zombie feature of more than £29 million. Deadville, a film unmentioned in English Gothic, has had just short of a million YouTube views. Zombie Women of Satan has had more than a million, on top of its DVD sales. So don’t tell me no-one’s getting to see these films.

Penultimate point, Rigby seems sadly unclear about the mechanics of the contemporary cinema industry. To cite just one case (though there are numerous others) he writes of James ShanksThe Devil’s Harvest: “Seven years after originally being copyrighted, this was still being hawked around at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, finally crawling out on DVD the following year.” Well, first there’s a massive difference between the Cannes Film Festival and the Cannes Film Market, which I would have expected a writer of Rigby’s standing to be aware of. More to the point, this sounds like nobody wanted Shanks’ film because it was so bad, when in fact the problem – as so often – was that a sales agent acquired the rights and then did damn all to sell the thing. Once Jim got his own film back, he had people fighting each other to release it. Whether Rigby likes the film or not, he does it a disservice by implying that it sat on the shelf for so long because no-one wanted it.

Where could Jonathan Rigby have found the above information? In Urban Terrors of course. Now I don’t know Rigby personally (though we probably have mutual friends) and I don’t know whether he has read Urban Terrors. I suspect so because (a) he’s a man who does his homework and (b) it’s difficult to see where else he would have found any information about super-obscurities like High Stakes, Antisocial-Behaviour or Witchhouse: The Legend of Petronel Haxley. Most of the films in my book are also in Rigby’s, at least as a namecheck, except for The Innocent, Mutant Chronicles (possibly too sci-fi), Experiment, Footsteps, Dominator (possibly too animated), Home Made, Alien Rising (possibly both too cheap) and, as noted, Sacred Flesh. Also no mention of 1990s titles The Eliminator (whose theatrical release is well documented) or Project: Assassin. So maybe he hasn’t read my book. But he’s written at length about Claire, a film that has had less than 300 YouTube views and only two reviews: mine and a short one on a zombie site. So surely he’s familiar with my website. And there's a whole bunch of other films here where googling the title brings up my review.

My point here, and it’s going to seem big-headed and arrogant but it’s my blog so I really don’t care, is that I’ve spent the past 15 years championing 21st century British horror. In my book and on my site and in my annual Devil’s Porridge round-ups and in various magazine articles, I’m pretty much the only writer who has done anything to document, analyse and contextualise these films.  I’m genuinely delighted that Jonathan Rigby has written such a fantastic chapter, giving this body of work its due. If anything I’m a little sad that no-one else has written about this stuff yet (though Johnny Walker’s book is on the way). So I was kind of hoping for some sort of acknowledgement, some name-check, just a mention of the diligent work of MJ Simpson who has spent 15 years collecting this information, watching and reviewing and promoting these films, documenting how and why they were made and released, and ensuring that this exciting and important part of the story of British horror doesn’t disappear before people have a chance to notice it.

If Rigby had contacted me while he was writing the book (I’m not hard to track down) I would have been delighted to provide him with whatever information or contacts he asked for. There are a lot of people who helped with the book (mostly, of course, the pre-2000 content) but it seems curious to write at length on a subject on which there is only one previously published work and neither contact nor acknowledge that author. I did, I must admit, single out Rigby in the Introduction to Urban Terrors for having failed to recognise, in his first edition, the burgeoning renaissance in British horror in the late 1990s. But I was courteous and careful not to criticise him personally, only to point out that his prediction of the death of British horror was wrong, something which he himself now readily admits, as evidenced by this video. I would be very unhappy if the man’s holding a grudge against me.

So, all the above notwithstanding, English Gothic version 2.0 has a place on your shelf and you are a fool if you don’t buy a copy. The book's coverage of the previous hundred years of British horror films is without precedent or peer. Buy it now. (And if you could see your way to buying Urban Terrors while you’re at it, I think you’ll find it’s a fine companion piece. Thank you.)

[Post script: Having checked Rigby's text, in fact the one and only film I wasn't previously aware of was the 2010 release Jelly Dolly.All other titles were already either on, or rejected from, my master list. - MJS]