Saturday 27 February 2016

Richard Driscoll in The Dark Side: full story and (some) pics

Over the years I have written for many illustrious horror/SF publications but I've never before had my name in The Dark Side. Well, issue 173 is now on sale and it includes my epic, nine-page account of Richard Driscoll's career. I can only recommend that you rush out and buy a copy.

This is the first ever detailed article in print about Driscoll and covers everything from his early life in Cardiff (such as we know of) to the crowdfunding campaign for Blade Hunter. Because I delivered this in January there's nothing about Star Warriors but that's not really significant. Even if you have read some of my previous online stuff about Driscoll, there's things in here you won't know.

I'd be lying if I said it was heavily illustrated - finding usable images relating to Driscoll was tough - but it is pleasingly unedited. Allan Bryce doesn't give a monkey's about upsetting or offending people - especially quantifiable knob-ends like Driscoll - so what you see is what I wrote.

Brycey is very complimentary about the piece in his editorial (as indeed he was previously about Urban Terrors) and calls it "one of the best we have ever run in our hallowed pages", which is a terrific honour because of course The Dark Side has been going for a very long time. I had been promising Allan this article for a couple of years now; over Christmas I finally got my finger out and knocked it together. It was fun to write and hopefully will be fun to read.

Whether you have seen some, all or none of Driscoll's films, I urge you to rush out and buy the new Dark Side when it goes on sale later this week. You won't regret it. Richard Driscoll might, but you won't.

Thursday 11 February 2016

The great Nazi zombie DVD sleeve mystery

Take a look at this DVD sleeve. I don’t know if it’s real, but it’s very odd.

There are a lot of films out there about Nazi zombies. This looks like it might be the Pat Higgins/Jim Eaves/Al Ronald anthology filmed as Battlefield Death Tales, which was released in the UK as Nazi Zombie Death Tales and in the States as Angry Nazi Zombies. This artwork was used by the German distributor who called the film Nazi Zombie Battleground. (Although it's not the artwork used on, which resembles the UK sleeve.)

However, exactly the same artwork was used in the UK for an American film originally titled Maplewoods which was released over there as Operation: Nazi Zombies and over here as just Nazi Zombies. Adding to the confusion is that Zombis Nazis is the Spanish title for the Norwegian film Dead Snow. All the text here is in Spanish but the back of the sleeve promises subtitles in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish.

The synopsis on the back of the sleeve is for Nazi Zombies – but two of the small pictures are from Nazi Zombie Death Tales! Neither of those films has been released in Spain. I don’t know what this is or where it’s from or whether it’s real, but I think it more likely relates to the movie formerly known as Maplewoods than the movie formerly known as Battlefield Death Tales.

And because life’s not complicated enough, Nazi Zombies and Nazi Zombie Battleground were released together last year in a German four-pack called Nazi Zombie Invasion which also included Nazi Sky (a retitling of The Asylum’s Iron Sky rip-off Nazis at the Center of the Earth) and Scottish comedy Attack of the Herbals (known over there as Attack of the Nazi Herbals).

Boy, those Germans sure love their Nazis, don’t they? Wait – what?

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Hangman: The return of Adam Mason

Between 2000 and 2007, Adam Mason was a stalwart of the British Horror Revival, directing four films of varying quality but consistent interest level. There was The 13th Sign (bloody awful), Dust (not great), Broken (very good but nasty) and The Devil’s Chair. Some folks don’t rate that last one but in my opinion (and that of my good friend and fellow British Horror enthusiast Dr Johnny Walker) it’s an absolute belter of a movie with a fascinating meta angle. You'll need to pick up a copy of Urban Terrors to read more about this.

Adam then went to the USA where he made four more films: Blood River, Lustre, Pig and Junkie. Plus, apparently, a documentary about American education. But his latest film, which was released yesterday, is once again British.

Hangman is a found footage home invasion horror, starring Jeremy Sisto from Law and Order and Kate Ashfield (When the Lights Went Out, Byzantium). It was co-written with Adam’s regular collaborator Simon Boyes and premiered at SXSW last March. You can buy it now on Amazon.

Synopsis: Returning from vacation, the Miller family find their home has been broken into. After cleaning up the mess they continue with their lives, shaking off the feeling of being violated. But little do they know the nightmare has just begun.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Now on YouTube: Torn: A Shockyoumentary

Justin Carter's mockdoc TORN: a SHOCK YOUmentary is now available to watch for free on YouTube. Shot in 2013, the film premiered in Portsmouth in 2014 and played at last year's Horror-on-Sea. Here's Carter's latest post on the film's Facebook page:

If Rhianna can do it, so can we. We're giving it away.
Here it is, our NO BUDGET movie, "TORN: a SHOCK YOUmentary".
This was a little experiment to see how far we could get making a feature with consumer grade equipment, in NO TIME (just a few days), with NO CREW (just 2 of us on most of the shoot) and with NO MONEY (just a little more than what was spent on food and travel). Despite the enormous pressures of trying to achieve such a task, we managed to get good reviews and have a successful festival run. We've all gone on to critical acclaim and award wins on other projects since we produced this but the fact we managed to pull this off at all will remain one of the most satisfying experiences of my broadcasting/filmmaking life. TORN got offered a number of distribution deals but I figured, seeing as none of us got paid to make it, why should anyone pay to see it? So...

Synopsis: If you go down to the woods today.... Has a supernatural evil come to terrorise the rural Devon village of Orchardlea? Or is the escalating body count and sense of impending doom actually the self fulfilling prophecy of two hoaxsters accused of a brutal murder?This SHOCK YOUmentary tells the story of a group of friends and siblings who join forces to protect the population of Orchardlea from a terrifying beast. TORN is a genuine, powerful and intelligent thriller from award winning filmmaker Justin Carter that is every bit as thoughtful as it is creepy.

The cast includes Lewis Saunderson (POV), Julian Seager (The Scopia Effect, Scareycrows) and Simon Burbage (Zombie Resurrection, Survivors).

Monday 1 February 2016

How many British horror films are directed by women?

As it’s Women in Horror Month, I thought I’d take a look through my master list of 21st century British horror features and see how many were directed by women. Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order:
  1. Anna: Scream Queen Killer aka Scream Queen Killer (d.Melanie Denholme/The Aquinas) – Wannabe horror actress gets humiliated, abused and raped by director until she flips.
  2. Another Me (d.Isabel Coixet) – Schoolgirl haunted by ghost of dead twin.
  3. Credo aka The Devil’s Curse (d.Toni Harman) – Students in spooky old house battle demons.
  4. The Dead Outside (d.Kerry Anne Mullaney) – Three survivors of zombie apocalypse, one of whom might have a cure.
  5. A Dying Breed (d.Katharine Collins) – Six survivors of apocalypse trapped in a house.
  6. For One Night Only (d.Belinda Greensmith) – Teenagers hold séance in abandoned asylum.
  7. Expiry Date (d.Karen Bird) – Cursed credit card. I’m still desperate to see this!
  8. The Falling (d.Carol Morley) – Fainting sickness in 1960s girls’ school.
  9. The Final Haunting (d.Flaminia Graziadei) – Babysitter accepts job in spooky house.
  10. Jelly Dolly (d.Susannah Gent) – Woman finds ringpull in belly button.
  11. The Hitchhiker’s Project (d.Madeline McQueen) – Three young people go hiking and disappear.
  12. The Holding (d.Susan Jacobson) – Sinister visitor helps out on a farm.
  13. Isle of Dogs (d.Tammi Sutton) – Violent gangland thriller.
  14. The Library (d.Daljinder Singh) - Librarian doesn't realise she has inherited  murder victim's job.
  15. Merry Z-Day (d.Lily Jenkins) – Zombie comedy set at Christmas.
  16. Patient 17 (d.Tuyet Le) – Medical interns investigating patient uncover conspiracy.
  17. Rising Tide (d.Dawn Furness, Philip Shotton) – Students stuck on island, stalked by maniac.
  18. Soulmate (d.Axelle Carolyn) – After unsuccessful suicide bid, woman stays in haunted cottage.
  19. Temptation (d.Catherine Taylor) – Rape victim offered chance of immortality by vampire.
  20. A Vault of Victims (d. Anthony Brems, Maria Lee Metheringham and Will Metheringham) – Anthology: lesbians kill man; woman becomes obsessed with mirror; murderous teddy bear
That’s yer lot. Out of 628 British horror films released since 2000, I could only find 20 directed by women (three of which were shared directorial credits). I found another five which have been screened but not released:
  • Black Lightning Dream (d. Nici Preston)
  • Deadly Waters (d.Tyler James, Catherine Carpenter)
  • Jagoda aka The One (d.Lex Pokane-Hefner)
  • The Lesson (d.Ruth Platt)
  • Whispers (d.Tammi Sutton)
Some of the above 25 movies are fantastic, some are terrible, some are okay, some I haven’t seen. Which is as you would expect. What this means and whether it matters I leave to others to debate (observations/opinions welcome in the comments section). And obviously please let me know if I've missed any.

But for anyone looking for the cold, hard stats about how many horror films in this country are directed by women, the answer is...

Three per cent.

[Update. Thanks to Kulvinder Gill for reminding me that my initial list of 19 missed out Daljinder Singh's The Library. My bad. Post updated - MJS]