Saturday 30 December 2017

All the new British horror films released in 2017

This was the first year that the number of new British horror films passed 100. In fact there were 107 UK horror features in 2017, meaning an average of two a week. How many have you seen? How many have you heard of? (I've managed to catch 27 of these so far.)

As ever, I define a film as 'released in 2017' if this year saw the first chance for someone to watch the movie - whether in a cinema, on DVD, on demand or just posted on YouTube - without attending a special event. Some of these films played festivals or had other one-off screenings in 2016 or earlier years.)

Please let me know of anything I've missed, or any other corrections.
  • Abduct (d.Ilyas Kaduji)
  • Abduction (d.Mol Smith)
  • AntiHuman aka Post Human: An Event (d.Mark Robins, Luke Gietzen)
  • Apocalypse (d.Tony Jopia)
  • Apocalyptic Horror (d.Mike Tack)
  • Aux (d.John Adams)
  • B&B (d.Joe Ahearne)
  • Bacchanalia aka The Winedancers (d.Gary Meyer)
  • Baobhan Sith aka Bavanshee (d.David Hutchison)
  • Beneath Still Water (d.Philip Kempson)
  • Blaze of Gory (d.Various)
  • Blood Money (d.Luke White)
  • Blood on Satan’s Paw aka Scare Bear (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • Braxton Butcher aka Braxton aka The Butchering (d.Leo McGuigan)
  • Cabin 28 (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Cage (d.Warren Dudley)
  • Cain Hill (d.Gene Fallaize)
  • Carnivore: Werewolf of London aka Carnivore (d.Simon Wells)
  • The Chamber (d.Ben Parker)
  • Clown Panic (d.Warren Speed)
  • Coulrophobia aka All Clowns Must Die (d.Warren Speed)
  • The Creature Below aka The Dark Below (d.Stewart Sparke)
  • Crow (d.Wyndham Price)
  • Cruel Summer (d.Phillip Escott, Craig Newman)
  • Cute Little Buggers (d.Tony Jopia)
  • Darkness Wakes aka Charlotte Wakes (d.Simon Richardson)
  • A Dark Song (d.Liam Gavin)
  • Definition of Fear (d.James Simpson)
  • The Demonic Tapes (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • Distorted (d.Darren Wharton)
  • The Doll Master (d.Steven M Smith)
  • Don’t Hang Up (d.Damien Mace, Alexis Wajsbrot)
  • Don’t Knock Twice (d.Caradog James)
  • Double Date (d.Benjamin Barfoot)
  • Eat Locals aka Eat Local (d.Jason Flemyng)
  • Egomaniac aka An Egomaniac (d.Kate Shenton)
  • Ex from Hell (d.James Wilsher)
  • Fanged Up (d.Christian James)
  • Fight the Eternal Evil (d.Michael Munn)
  • Freehold aka 2Pigeons (d.Dominic Bridges)
  • The Gatehouse (d.Martin Gooch)
  • Ghost Ship aka Curse of the Phoenix (d.Robert Young)
  • Ghosts of Darkness aka Soulreaper aka House of Shadows (d.David Ryan Keith)
  • The Ghoul (d.Gareth Tunley)
  • Granny of the Dead aka OAZ: Nan from Hell aka Old Zombies (d.Craig T James)
  • Grindsploitation 3: Video Nasty (d.various)
  • Hallows Eve (d.Brad Watson)
  • Harvest of the Dead aka The Devil’s Harvest (d.Peter Goddard)
  • The Healer aka The White Room (d.James Erskine)
  • Hellriser (d.Steve Lawson)
  • Hex (d.George Popov)
  • Hitman in Hertford – The Musical (Zombies in Hertford Episode IV) (d. Michael Curtis)
  • The Holly Kane Experiment (d.Tom Sands)
  • Holy Terrors (d.Mark Goodall, Julian Butler) 
  • The House on Elm Lake (d.James Klass)
  • The House on the Witchpit (d.Pat Higgins)
  • The Howling (d.Steven M Smith)
  • I am Cursed (d.Shiraz Khan)
  • Ibiza Undead aka Zombie Spring Breakers (d.Andy Edwards)
  • Inside the Dark Room aka The Photographer 2: Inside the Dark Room (d. Will and Maria Lee Metheringham)
  • Jake Stagg (d.Paul TT Easter)
  • Knights of the Damned (d.Simon Wells)
  • The Left Hand Path (d.Michael Fenton Crenshaw)
  • The Limehouse Golem (d.Juan Carlos Medina)
  • Malady (d.Jack James)
  • The Marker (d.Justin Edgar)
  • Mother Krampus aka 12 Deaths of Christmas (d.James Klass)
  • Necrophiliac and the Killer Gimps (d.Jason Impey, Kieran Johnstone)
  • Necrophiliac: The Lustful Dead (d.Jason Impey, Wade Radford)
  • Night Kaleidoscope aka Land of Sunshine (d. Grant McPhee)
  • Once Upon a Time at Christmas (d.Paul Tanter)
  • Paranormal Farm (d.Carl Medland)
  • Prankz (d. Warren Dudley)
  • Prevenge (d.Alice Lowe)
  • Recovery (d.Heath Hetherington, Marcus Scott)
  • Redwood (d.Tom Paton)
  • Retribution aka Requiem (d.Christine Edwards)
  • The Ritual (d.David Bruckner)
  • The Rizen (d.Matt Mitchell, Taliesyn Mitchell)
  • A Room to Die For aka Rancour (d.Dev Shanmugam)
  • Scareycrows (d.Jamie Spear)
  • The Secret Kiss (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • Seizure (d.Jamie Cymbol, Ryan Simons)
  • The Shadow of Bigfoot (d.Philip Mearns)
  • Shadows of a Stranger (d.Chris Clark, Richard Dutton)
  • Slasher House 2 (d.MJ Dixon)
  • Slumber (d.Jonathan Hopkins)
  • The Small Woman in Grey (d. Andrew Sean Eltham-Byers)
  • The Snare (d.CA Cooper)
  • The Sons of Jihad Part 1 (d.Brown Brothers)
  • Spidarlings (d.Salem Kapsaski)
  • Strangers Within (d.Liam Hooper)
  • Synthetic Void (d.Paul TT Easter)
  • The Toymaker aka Robert and the Toymaker (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Transhuman (d.Nicholas Winter)
  • Trip with the Devil (d.Richard Mansfield)
  • UK18 (d.Andrew Tiernan)
  • Unhinged (d.Dan Allen)
  • Unholy aka The Unholy aka The Haunting of Eastwood Residence (d.Anthony M Winson)
  • The Unseen (d.Gary Sinyor)
  • Vampire Resurrection (d,Mark Morris)
  • Viking Siege aka Attack of the Tree Beasts (d.Jack Burton)
  • Werewolves of the Third Reich (d.Andrew Jones)
  • Whispers (d.Tammi Sutton)
  • Zombies Have Fallen aka Bad Blood (d.Sam Hampson)
  • 47 Metres Down aka In The Deep (d.Johannes Roberts)
  • 60 Seconds to Die (d.various)

Sunday 24 December 2017

Braxton Butcher

d./w. Leo McGuigan; p. Leo McGuigan, Margaret McGoldrick; cast: Shaun Blaney, Jenna Byrne, Vicky Allen, Diona Doherty, Andrew Stanford, Ciaran McCourt, Joshua Colquhoun, Rachel Morton

This superior slasher starts out pretty generic, distinguished only by its Northern Ireland setting and accents, but perks up considerably in its third act. A bunch of teenagers who act like they’re in an American high school are knife-fodder for Tommy Miller, an off-the-peg psycho in a mask and parka. Ten years ago he slaughtered his schoolmates at a town hall dance, now he’s back. Or is it a copycat? The police procedural aspects are more enjoyable than the teen soap opera, though not helped by both detectives looking confusingly similar. A pair of nerds inject a soupcon of sub-Scream postmodernism into the proceedings which culminate at another town hall dance, attended by about nine extras. It’s a tad too long at 110 minutes but well made despite a largely neophyte cast and teenage director. Yes, it ticks boxes – but with some admirably impressive ticks. Shot in Belfast in 2014 as Braxton, it premiered in Kentucky in October 2015 and was retitled The Butchering for its US release.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Once Upon a Time at Christmas

d. Paul Tanter; w. Christopher Jolley; p. Mem Ferda, Paul Tanter, Simon Phillips; cast: Simon Phillips, Laurel Brady, Jeff Ellenberger, Barry Kennedy, Sayla Vee De Goede, Susannah Mackay, David Lee

Enjoyable festive slasher set in a small town in New York State where a disgruntled psycho in a Santa suit is committing murder on a daily basis, assisted by an insane girl-woman obviously modelled on Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn. Annoying mall-hanging teenagers are thankfully despatched early as the story concentrates on the Sheriff and Deputy trying to cope with ever-increasing piles of bodies. You’ll work out what’s happening about half through, after which it becomes increasingly unbelievable that the cops haven’t. But that level of unbelievability is part of the fun of a good slasher, along with some cheesy coincidences, and the script (based on a story by Phillips - in the Santa suit - and Tanter, who cameos as a coroner) walks that fine line commendably. Filmed in Canada, this premiered at the British Horror Film Festival in London in October 2017. A sequel was announced almost immediately after release.

Saturday 16 December 2017


d. Warren Speed, Lee Bibby; w./p. Warren Speed; cast: Pete Alexander Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux, Leela Thompson, Ana Udroiu, Makenna Guyler, Chris Harrison, Steve Haze

There’s passable gory fun to be had in this oddity from the director of Zombie Women of Satan in which a group of female friends are terrorised in the woods by four ‘circus freak’ siblings. The young women are made up as clowns before being subjected to abuse, humiliation, torture and casual murder. Eventually the family’s equally freaky father turns up, recently released from prison. There are occasional cutaways to their uncle and flashbacks to their mother’s death but that’s pretty much it for the plot of what is best categorised as ‘eccentric torture porn’, the bizarre costumes and characters ameliorating what would otherwise have been tedious brutality. The victims are a roller derby team but, despite some skating shots topping and tailing the main story, that’s completely irrelevant, sadly negating the ‘Circus freaks vs roller girls’ high concept tag-line. British horror regular Bennett steals the show as a crazed jester. Shot June/July 2014, it was temporarily retitled All Clowns Must Die during post-production.

Saturday 9 December 2017

The Unseen

d./w./p. Gary Sinyor; cast: Jasmine Hyde, Richard Flood, Simon Cotton, Sushil Chudasama

Sinyor, whose previous features have all been comedies, makes a reasonably successful move into serious drama with this ambitious psycho-thriller that is surprisingly complex for a film with only three characters. Gemma and Will are a wealthy young couple; she’s a voice actor, we never find out what he does. When their young son dies in a tragic accident, they seek solace in a holiday cottage owned by slightly too helpful Paul. For most of the film it’s difficult to know where we’re going, with implications of haunting, religious consolation and even a momentary diversion into witchcraft. The film as a whole is too long because it’s too slow, frustratingly draining the expected tension from the triangular dynamic, while the denouement is swift, sudden and less than satisfying. Blurred POV shots when Gemma suffers panic attacks are effective but overused. The three leads are good and each elicits both sympathy for, and concern about, their character at various times. Though beautifully shot (in February 2017), it’s disappointing that more wasn’t made of the Lake District location.

Not quite the end of this website

When I closed this site back in July, my intention was that I would post my annual listing of the year's UK horror features each New Year's Eve and that would be it. Nothing else here, and no reviews on my main site.

Since July, freed of the need to watch films and write long, detailed reviews (which sometimes took a week to complete), I've actually watched a lot more movies, ploughing through my BHR masterlist (though making frustratingly little headway - they get released as fast as I watch 'em). Each film has elicited a 200-word review as I gradually build up an encylopedia of British horror 2000-2019 which I would very much like to publish in a few years, if I can find a willing publisher.

I'm still on some PR mailing lists, and still have film-making friends, so still get offers of screeners, which it would be unfair to accept without offering something in return. Having umm-ed and ah-ed for some time, it seems to me that the best solution is to write my 200-word capsule reviews for my mooted book, but to also post versions of them on here when the film is a new work which I have been sent.

Thus there is no extra work for me, but I can still offer film-makers and publicists a fair, honest review. So do please feel free to send me screeners (of new British horror features only) and I will post reviews here. Just a bit shorter than before. Starting with this one.

And do watch out for my annual round-up in three weeks' time.

Sunday 23 July 2017

The end of this website

As explained in more detail over on my main site, I am now ending both of these blogs in order to concentrate on books and scripts.

This site will stay live but won't be added to.

I will continue my British Horror Revival Twitter account so please follow @BritHorrorRev if you don't already do so.

A massive catalogue of all 21st century UK horror films is among the books I will be working on.

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog, commented or provided info/links.

Thursday 6 July 2017

40 unreleased British horror films

As far as I know, every one of these got as far as a screening. It might have been at a festival, or a local premiere, or just a cast and crew, but these were all completed enough to show to someone. On the other hand, as far as I know, none of these have actually had a legitimate release, whether theatrical, DVD or VOD. Please contact me if you know otherwise.

Some of these are still playing the festival circuit and/or have a distribution deal but no confirmed release details. Others have simply disappeared into limbo, but history tells us that films can suddenly reappear many years after they were last spotted. A second batch of 40 more unreleased British horror films will follow shortly.


Director: Tony Jopia. Screened January 2017. Zombie epic with segments filmed in different countries. Last Facebook update May 2017

Bacchanalia aka The Winedancers

Director: Gary Meyer. Screened January 2016 (Horror-on-Sea). “What seems like an innocent wine tasting weekend turns into a bizarre, wicked, sensually overheated debauchery, culminating in a murderous grand finale evening and the fateful morning after.” Last Facebook update January 2017

The Baylock Residence

Director: Anthony M Winson. Screened April 2017. Woman inherits spooky house from her late sister. Remake of Winson’s 2014 feature The Haunting of Baylock Residence. Last Facebook update May 2017


Director: Chris Jupp. Screened October 2009. Escaped patient taken on as handyman at country club serving unusual meat. Based on original script for Michael J Murphy’s Skare. Last Facebook update March 2016

The Bench

Director: Sean Wilkie. Screened March 2015. “Tense and emotional horror in the style of the slasher movies of the 70's and 80's with a modern twist and an eclectic young cast of Scottish talent, yet to be discovered.” Last Facebook update March 2015.

Beneath Still Water

Director: Philip Kempson. Screened October 2016. “A group of young adults are out on the moor for a weekend of climbing, canoeing and walking etc. During their stay, they encountered strange events and strange stories from the local community about a mermaid who lures men to their deaths in Blake Mere pool.” Last Facebook update June 2017

Bicycle Day aka Bad Trip

Director: Damian Morter. Screened October 2011. A camping trip for four mates descends into horror when their drinks are spiked with LSD. Unlikely to be released as Morter is developing a remake. Read my review.

Black Lightning Dream

Director: Nici/Niki/Nicky Preston. Screened September 2014. A couple are visited by ghosts after drinking a strange type of moonshine.


Director: Geoff Cockwill. Screened August 2003. “A newly-made young vampire tries to find his place in the world of the undead.”

Cain Hill

Director: Gene Fallaize. Screened April 2017 “A group of documentary filmmakers are filming a TV special about the events which occurred at the famous and mysterious abandoned Cain Hill asylum many years earlier. The group soon learn that one of the inmates never left Cain Hill at all.” Last Facebook update May 2017


Directors: Steve Du Melo, Larry Downing. Screened January 2014. “A rare parasite has contaminated a local meat processing plant and tactical police are sent in, but all is not what it appears.”


Director: Jamie Patterson. Screened April 2017 (Fantasporto). “A journalist couple invite a man and woman into their idyllic village home, but what begins with an informal interview descends into a nightmarish fight for survival. ”

Christmas Hear Kids

Director: Chris Purnell. Screened September 2014. “A taxi driver finds out the woman in the back of his cab is out for revenge against the man that abused her as a child: him.”

Crucible of the Vampire

Director: Iain Ross-McNamee. Screened January 2017. “Gothic vampire thriller set in present day Shropshire. Taking place in a large country house, it draws influences from classic British horror from the 1950’s and 1960's alongside modern Korean and Japanese psychological horror.” Last Twitter update June 2017

Cute Little Buggers

Director: Stu Jopia. Screened January 2017. “Comedy horror b-movie creature feature in the style of 80's classics like Critters, Ghoulies and Grabbers.” Last Facebook update May 2017

The Dark Mile

Director: Gary Love. Screened June 2017 “When London couple Louise and Clare book a boat trip to recover from personal tragedy, their trip of a lifetime through the Scottish Highlands soon descends into a hellish ordeal as they delve further into the wilds.”

Dead Perfect

Director: Jason Wilcox. Screened January 2017 (Horror-on-Sea) “During a break in the country, a young couple are haunted by the ghosts of their former partners.”

Deadly Waters aka Dark Water

Directors: Tyler James, Catherine Carpenter. Screened March 2015. “A man encounters a deadly siren on a beach who will stop at nothing to feed.” Last Facebook update September 2015

The Devil’s Interval

Directors: Anthony & Patrick Turner. Screened December 2011. “Late one night a Priest picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. On arrival in his local village the anonymous stranger disappears into the night. He has left behind a scroll of music. Intrigued by its mystery, the priest is compelled to play the music. He plays like a man possessed and upon hitting the last note a gateway is opened and the once small and quiet village is changed forever.” Last Facebook update January 2012

Drowning the Dead

Director: Jason Wilcox. Screened September 2011. “A young woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend is invited to stay at a chance acquaintance's villa. But someone else living there has got other ideas for her...”

The Dungeon Moor Killings

Director: Jim Hickey. Screened June 2008. “Adam and Mark are determined to find evidence of the existence of big cats that have been reported over the years in remote areas of South West Scotland. As they set off across Dungeon Moor, it becomes clear that their lives are endangered by something more than roaming big cats.”

Dwellings Close

Director: Jorge Cuaik. Screened October 2013 (South Texas Underground Film Festival). “Ken an estate agent from London gets mysteriously locked in one of his company's properties at number eight Dwellings Close. Inside he meets Gem, an eccentric young woman who claims to be the property's new tenant, together they will try to find a way out.” Last Facebook post March 2015 (commenting on the last time I did a list like this!)

Dying Light

Director: David Newbigging. Screened May 2013. “When Eddie Bowen hooks up with the beautiful and sexually aggressive Suze Phillips he thinks his luck’s in. But it’s a trap! Suze imprisons them both within a specially-prepared room and before Eddie can react he’s drugged and blacks out. When he wakes he finds a symbol carved into his chest and Suze lying unconscious on the floor with a dagger in hand.” Last Facebook update June 2013

Eva’s Diamond

Director: Ice Neal. Screened February 2013. “When Miss Phillips’ devoted religious teenage son is accused of murdering an expert in the occult and sent to prison, her quest to prove his innocence leads her into a world of black magic and time traveling spirits.” Last Facebook post August 2016.

Every Picture

Director: Tobias Tobbell. Screened February and May 2005. Couple are locked in a haunted school where a teacher once committed suicide.

Evil Bread

Director: Andy Ward. Screened January 2014 (Horror-on-Sea). Comedy about two horror-obsessed film students who try to make a non-horror film bur awake an ancient evil. Last Facebook update June 2017

First Bite aka First Bite is the Deepest

Director: Eileen Daly. Screened February 2016. A ghost hunting team go to rid the castle of Vampires. Last Facebook update February 2016.

The Forewarning

Director: Andy Robinson. Screened November 2011. “A heart transplant recipient begins to experience a series of life-threatening visions. He comes to believe that they have something to do with the new heart beating inside him - and that his survival depends on completing the unfinished business of his donor.” Last Facebook update March 2014.

Fox Trap

Director: Jamie Weston. Screened October 2016. “After a terrible accident leaves a young girl disabled, five years later, the group responsible are invited to a remote manor house in the countryside for a class reunion. Little do they know, they are being targeted by a masked maniac hell bent on revenge.” A February 2017 UK DVD was cancelled. Now likely to appear under another title. Last Facebook update June 2017.


Director: Jamie Patterson. Screened October 2016. “When a tyre blows on the way to a romantic countryside getaway, Rebecca and Michael sense someone is watching. The only people they encountered along the way were friendly strangers Freyr and Alva who gave them a lift. But their holiday home becomes a terrifying prison as they are tortured by something or someone outside.”

The Gatehouse

Director: Martin Gooch. Screened October 2016 (Raindance). “A struggling writer lives with his 10yr old daughter in an old Gatehouse on the edge of an ancient wood. A new commission coincides with the discovery of a strange object buried in the woods. What follows is a dangerous battle to save themselves and future generations from an ancient force from a forgotten world.” Last Facebook update May 2016.

The Girl with Two Masks

Director: Sam Casserly. Screened April 2015. Rep from pub chain sent to local boozer finds unquiet spirit of dead witch. Last Facebook update July 2016. Read my review.

God’s Acre

Director: JP Davidson. Screened September 2015. “Malcolm lost everything to the recession. To pay off his debts he needs to renovate and sell his last house fast but a dark secret lies entombed within its walls.” Last Facebook update May 2016


Director: Miranda Bowen. Screened September 2016. “Lucille and Joe have a nice car, a steady income, a beautiful farmhouse with breathtaking views and a swimming pool. They seem to have it all. But when a young tourist goes missing on the island, Joe's disquieted conscience begins to get the better of him. As the buried horrors of Lucille and Joe's past resurface, the cracks begin to show in their homespun paradise.” Last Facebook update November 2016.

Hollywood Betrayed

Director: Eileen Daly. Screened February 2016. “Deep down in Normsville suburbia, England, lays a horrible secrets. Only one man alone knows what is going on in the hotel of horrors and has invited the ghost busting team to help rid the place of evil.” Last Facebook update February 2016.

House of Salem

Director: James Crow. Screened August 2016 (Frightfest). “A group of kidnappers become a child’s unlikely protectors, after finding out they have unwittingly been set up to take part in a deadly game of human sacrifice.” Last Facebook update June 2017.

The House of Screaming Death

Directors: Troy Dennison, Rebecca Harris-Smith, David Hastings, Alex Bourne, Kaush Patel. Screened June 2017. Gothic anthology. Last Facebook update June 2017

I am Cursed

Director: Shiraz Khan. Screened June 2014. An ambitious reporter in a news office befriends a shy colleague with a deadly, supernatural secret. Last Facebook update September 2016

In Abigail’s Place

Director: Steven Hines. Screened July 2015. “The disturbing story of a young girl, Sarah, recovering from the untimely and mysterious death of her best friend by attending a school trip to a rural house. It is there that she uncovers truths that should have been kept hidden.” Last Facebook update August 2015.

In Extremis

Director: Steve Stone. Screened June 2017. “A business executive returns home to his family for the weekend. Within hours a cataclysmic ‘event’ takes place and the world they inhabit becomes deserted and toxic. Slowly he begins to question the nature of this ‘event’; is it really out there or has it come from within?”

Stay tuned for Part 2...

Friday 30 June 2017

11 British horror features at Frightfest 2017

As usual, this year's Frighfest (24th-28th August) has a good selection of British films in the line-up:

Redwood (d.Tom Paton)
After some bad news back at home, musician Josh and his girlfriend Beth head out to a secluded national park in search of some clarity on the situation they’ll face when they return. But the couple get more than they bargained for when they ignore the advice of Park Rangers and venture off the trail, coming face to face with The Redwood’s legendary wildlife. REDWOOD brings a fresh spin to a well-worn mythology to create an edge of your seat horror movie that will shred your nerves and have you thinking twice about going camping again.

Freehold (d.Dominic Bridges)
The feature debut from acclaimed commercials director Dom Bridges and written by Rae Brunton (the OUPOST franchise) is a dark urban morality tale with an underlying streak of jet black comedy. Hussein, a wide-boy estate agent, doesn't realise he's sharing his apartment with a forgotten stranger, a master of concealment... until his malicious campaign of deranged sweet revenge starts to really hit home. A roof above our heads is a basic human need so why are we all fighting each other over it? A genre riff on home invasion chillers and a searing comment on the cut-throat housing market.

Attack of the Adult Babies (d.Dominic Brunt)
From Dominic Brunt, director of BEFORE DAWN and BAIT, a satirical and sexy shocker unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. A home invasion forces two teenagers to break into a remote country manor and steal Top Secret documents. Little do they know the stately pile is also the venue where a group of high-powered middle-aged men go to take refuge from the stresses of daily life by dressing in nappies and indulging their every perverse nursery whim. Or that this grotesque assembly intends to refuel the world’s economy by very sinister, sick and monstrous means.  Time for a change…

Double Date (d.Benjamin Barfoot)
Meet innocent Jim, terrified of girls and on a reluctant quest to prove his manhood the night before he turns 30. He and his cocky friend Alex think they’ve hit the jackpot when they meet the beautiful sisters Kitty and Lulu, who seem up for anything on a wild party-fuelled night. They also have an incredible car. But little do they know that the feisty femmes fatales have their own shocking agenda in mind and have every intention of making Jim lose much more than just his virginity… Getting laid has never been so bloody difficult.

Fanged Up (d.Christian James)
Orange is the new Dracula. Daniel O’Reilly, aka controversial comedy character Dapper Laughs, makes his feature film debut in a vampire comedy destined to make everyone Carry On Screaming. He plays a wrongfully arrested lovable rogue thrown into a high-security prison for the weekend when his blood group is revealed to be very rare. But once incarcerated in this horror penitentiary, there’s no way out as the warden is a top-level bloodsucker, the guards are his pet zombies and the inmates are their unwilling victims. Get ready for hi-jinks in clink, slammer shivers, big house laughs and jail house shocks.

Mountain Fever (d. Hendrik Faller)
Inspired by the action cinema of James Cameron and the minimalism of Nicolas Winding Refn, a fatal flu virus devastates Europe in an ice-cold thriller examining human behaviour in a time of crisis. City boy Jack takes refuge in the Alps but he’s ill-equipped to survive the harsh winter. Things only get worse when renegade Kara breaks into his house and commandeers his dwindling food supplies. His inept plan to get rid of her disintegrates when outsiders also invade, turning his captor into his only ally.  As a siege ensues Jack must choose a side if he hopes to survive.

Boots on the Ground (d.Louis Melville)
Afghanistan October 2014. Five British soldiers, trying to stay alive on the last night of the Afghan War, face not only the Taliban, but also supernatural powers more terrifying than anything they've encountered before. As the night unfolds and their mission is finally explained to them, they find themselves engulfed in a labyrinthine nightmare and time-shift forces seemingly from another realm and century. One of the most innovative and challenging British movies of the year, shot with 360 degree style immersion techniques using head-cams, director Louis Melville’s twisting and turning squaddie shocker is a genre ground breaker. [I ran the first ever images from this film exactly one year ago - MJS]

Where the Skin Lies (d.Michael Boucherie)
Six friends, bound together by a traumatic experience, travel up to the Scottish Lowlands for a relaxing reunion weekend. Soon a number of mysterious and horrifying events start to expose the cracks in their relationships. One by one they discover, through their tattoos, that trust runs but skin-deep and as day turns into night, not everyone will survive the ‘Game of Death’ they are forced to play.

Eat Locals (d.Jason Flemyng)
Acclaimed actor Jason Flemying (DEEP RISING, HANNA, SOLOMON KANE, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS), makes his directorial debut with a bloodsucker chiller featuring the cream of British talent. In a quiet countryside farmhouse, Britain's vampires gather together for their once-every-fifty-years meeting. Others will be joining them too; Sebastian Crockett, an unwitting Essex boy who thinks he's on a promise with sexy cougar Vanessa; and a detachment of Special Forces vampire killers who have bitten off more than they can chew. This is certainly going to be a night to remember... and for some of them it will be their last.

Canaries (d.Peter Stray)
CANARIES pits a group of friends at a New Year's Eve bash in the Valleys, hosted by Steve Denis, London's 53rd-most-listened-to DJ, a returning local boy made good against an invasion task force of creepy time travelling aliens. In this darkly funny Welsh based Sci-fi horror comedy, the new year’s resolution on everyone's lips is to stay alive.

Accountable (d. Matthew Heaven)
Driven by a fantastic performance from headliner Oliver Towner, ACCOUNTABLE proves what can be achieved on a micro-budget with imagination, a great twisty script and a commitment to quality production values. Warren Matthews is an angry and directionless young man struggling to contain his formidable temper. But before long circumstances cause him to reluctantly enlist the services of a local psychiatrist to help him confront damaging past events fuelling his future angst. A score must be settled according to his fractured psyche, someone must be held accountable. Keep your eyes on director Matthew Heaven, he’s one to watch.

Monday 26 June 2017

50 great British horror films since 2010

Every so often I see someone on Twitter bemoaning the lack of recent British horror films. If only they made more films like this one movie I like; or Why don’t the Brits make horror films anymore; or It’s been too long since there was a good British horror film. I have created this post so that in the future I can provide a service to these poor, benighted souls by pointing them to a list of titles.

Here we have 50 - 50! – British horror films released on DVD in the UK and/or USA since 2010, every one of which I would personally recommend. The ten marked with an asterisk are particularly superb. Not everyone will agree with me on all of these, but there’s enough here for anyone bemoaning the lack of recent good British horror films to find plenty they will enjoy. Some are scary, some are funny, some are dramatic, but all are worth your time and money.

Awaiting, The Awakening, Axed
Before Dawn, Berberian Sound Studio*, Black Death, Blackwood, Blood + Roses, Blooded, Book of the Dead, Bordello Death Tales, Burke and Hare, Byzantium*
Cage, The Captive (US: Armistice), The Chamber, Community, Cryptic
The Dead*, The Devil’s Music
Elfie Hopkins (US: Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter), Exam*, Exhibit A
F (US: The Expelled), The Falling*, The Fallow Field
Gangsters Guns and Zombies, The Girl with All the Gifts*
The Harsh Light of Day, Heartless, The Holding
Little Deaths, Little Devil (US: Demon Baby)
The Other Side of the Door
Plan Z, P.O.V., Prevenge
Red Kingdom Rising, Resurrecting ‘The Street Walker’*
Sawney: Flesh of Man (US: Lord of Darkness), The Seasoning House*, Stalled*, Strigoi
Tony, Tower Block
Under the Shadow*, Unhappy Birthday (aka Amen Island)
Wasteland, White Settlers (US: The Bloodlands)

And there's plenty more where those came from! Please note that this list does not include:

Supplement, May 2020:
Here are a few more: Anna and the Apocalypse, Darkness Wakes, Double Date, Egomaniac, Frankenstein's Creature, Freehold, The Ghoul, Hex, Nina Forever, Possum

You’re welcome.

Monday 19 June 2017

Strong opening weekend for 47 Meters Down

Johannes Roberts' shark pic 47 Meters Down, which I make no apologies for constantly plugging, took $11.5 million in its opening weekend according to Box Office Mojo.

It was the third highest opener after Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me and, inevitably, Cars 3 (both of which are aimed at very different audiences) and the fifth highest grosser overall with Wonder Woman and The Mummy still performing predictably strongly.

Entertainment Studios Founder, Chairman and CEO, Byron Allen said: "We are very happy with our first wide release, 47 Meters Down. The movie is perfect for the summer, and an absolute crowd-pleaser as indicated by our outstanding per-screen average."

This is the biggest US opening weekend for a British film since Spectre in November 2015.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Johannes Roberts - a retrospective

With ten(-ish) features under his belt, Johannes Roberts can lay claim to being one of Britain’s busiest and most successful horror movie directors. This Friday, his shark film 47 Meters Down – starring Claire Holt, Mandy Moore and Matthew Modine – opens on 2,270 screens across the USA (having already taken nearly half a million dollars at the Italian box office). Here’s a round-up of how Jo got from microbudget indies to the (well-deserved) big time. (Dates are first English-language release.)

Sanitarium (2003)
Co-directed with James Eaves (Bane, The Witches Hammer) this microbudget tale of unethical drug trials and weird goings-on in a hospital was shot in 1999. I actually saw this in Manchester in 2000 in its original two-hour cut entitled Diagnosis. The released, retitled version was heavily re-edited, incorporating new footage starring (bizarrely) Uri Geller.

Hellbreeder (2004)
Another joint effort with Jim Eaves, this is a confusing, clown-filled tale of a woman hunting a serial child killer. The cast includes Dominique Pinon (Delicatessen) and West End star Darren Day. It’s a re-edit of an unreleased film called Alice which the IMDB confusingly lists as a separate production.

Darkhunters (2004)
In Jo’s first solo picture, Pinon is a dead teacher being hunted by two demonic private eyes, one of them played by Jeff Fahey. Special effects by Tristan Versluis and Tim Berry. Shot as The Chosen and the Damned. Ernest Riera, now Jo’s regular co-writer, first worked with him on this film, co-directing the Making Of.

Forest of the Damned (2005) – US title: Demonic
Young people travelling in a camper van get attacked by ‘fallen angels’ (naked women with fangs). This is my least favourite Johannes Roberts film, not because it’s any worse than the preceding three but because it’s generic and formulaic. Cameo by Tom Savini as a random nutter. Shot as The Forbidden Forest. Most notable for launching the careers of British horror regulars Eleanor James and Marysia Kay.

When Evil Calls (2006)
I think this is Jo’s least favourite of his creations. It started life as a series of clips on mobile phones, documenting the spread of a Monkey’s Paw-style curse in a school. The cast includes Jennifer Lim, Lois Winstone, Chris Barrie, Marysia Kay and Shaun Hutson (as a zombie). Sir Sean Pertwee filmed a series of linking monologues as a caretaker to string this into a feature, released on DVD in 2008.

F (2010) – US title: The Expelled
There’s a clear dividing line between Jo’s first four (or five) features which are (over-)ambitious, wild DTV B-movies and his later films which are much more controlled, slick and powerful theatrically released features. This dark, school-set hoodie horror has an embittered teacher (David Schofield) and his teenage daughter trapped by faceless, supernaturally athletic, murderous youths (played by parkour athletes). While the media was talking about “demonising young people”, Jo was taking the idea literally. Scary and gripping, this showed his talent and re-invigorated his career.
Roadkill (2011)
This American TV movie for SyFy is the one Johannes Roberts feature I haven’t seen (yet). Some kids get cursed by a gypsy and attacked by a giant bird, apparently.

Storage 24 (2012)
Noel Clarke wrote and starred in this enjoyable monster movie about a group of people trapped in a self-storage facility with an alien beastie that has escaped from a crashed military transport plane. Unpretentious sci-fi/horror fun.

The Other Side of the Door (2016)
Set and shot in India, this Monkey's Paw-influenced ghost story has a grieving American mother travel to a temple where she can be temporarily reunited with her drowned son. She is under strict instructions to talk to him through the door but not open it. Of course, she does and something evil comes through. Terrifically spooky, this was produced by Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance, Hills Have Eyes remake) and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was released on 330 screens in the UK and 550 in the States.
47 Meters Down (2017)
And so we come to this brilliantly scary and gripping shark movie in which Ms Moore and Ms Holt are sisters on an unlicensed cage dive and Mr Modine is the skipper who hasn’t checked his chains recently. At one stage this was going to be released straight to DVD as In the Deep, but at the last moment that release was pulled and distributor Entertainment Studios decided this should be seen on the big screen, which it absolutely should.
Future projects
Johannes is currently directing the sequel to 2008 hit The Strangers. He is also developing Hearts, an adaptation of the main story in Stephen King’s collection Hearts in Atlantis, and The Plague in which an unstoppable disease sweeps the planet. Meanwhile Paul Hyett is attached to a Roberts/Riera script called The Pool (‘Cujo in a swimming pool’, apparently!).

I’ve known Jo Roberts for quite some time now. It’s been a pleasure to follow his career and it was an honour to publish the first review of 47 Meters Down last year. I hope it’s a huge success and that Jo continues to provide us with some of the very best British horror films around.

Sunday 4 June 2017

Almost here at last - Spidarlings

I first ran a teaser for Spidarlings way back in March 2012, since when it has been not only on my British Horror masterlist (in the Coming Soon section) but also on my unofficial Looking Forward To list.

Salem Kapsaski's long-awaited punk horror comedy musical finally gets a VOD release next month - courtesy of my dear old mate Lloyd Kaufman. A handful of British films have been distributed by Troma in the past, including Alien Blood, Dark Nature and The Evolved Part 1. But Spidarlings looks easily the most Tromatic and is a perfect fit for Uncle Lloyd's venerable corporation.

Here's the press release:

New York, N.Y., June 3, 2017 - Greetings from Tromaville!

Troma Entertainment, the longest running truly independent film company in American history, is proud to announce the acquisition of Salem Kapsaski's punk rock musical Spidarlings, World Premiere on Troma Now July 1st, it was announced today by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and creator of The Toxic Avenger.

Poverty stricken lovers Eden and Matilda have enough trouble just getting through the days...Their Landlord is trying to terrorize them and strange things seem to be going on at "Juicy Girls", the place where Matilda works...but when Eden buys a pet spider the real troubles start.

While creating Spidarlings, Director Salem Kapsaski drew inspiration from his own real life experiences with financial struggles, a ruthless landlord, and relentless threats to his family from an unstable individual. These real life experiences mixed with influences from John Waters, I Love Lucy, Lloyd Kaufman, Peanuts cartoons and an amazing musical score by Jeff Kristian are what makes Spidarlings a totally original, remarkable independent film.

Spidarlings will premiere on Troma Now, Troma Entertainment's exclusive content streaming service, July 1st!

Spidarlings stars Sophia Disgrace (whose numerous BHR credits include David VG Davies' Monitor and Animal Soup plus Three's a Shroud (also for DVGD), The Shadow of Death, Paul TT Easter's Thumb N It and the as yet unreleased Rock Band vs Vampires); model/actress/painter Rahel Kapsaski  (sister of director Salem); Lee Mark Jones aka Gypsy Lee Pistolero (Theatre of Fear, Bella in the Wych Elm and currently-in-post Werewolves of the Third Reich); former Jawa Rusty Goffe (more recently in assorted Harry Potters) and Uncle Lloyd himself.

You can find out more on Facebook. Meanwhile, here's the trailer, complete with glorious Troma ident:

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Why 47 Meters Down could be the biggest British horror film ever

Obviously it’s not being marketed as a horror film. Or indeed as British. But that’s no reason for us not to celebrate a genuine homegrown success that has the potential to be a huge commercial hit.

Twelve months ago I reviewed Johannes Roberts’ shark thriller 47 Meters Down which I had the good fortune to see at an industry preview. I’ve been following Jo’s career since Sanitarium and, after he upped his game with F, I’ve been seriously impressed by his output. It’s great to see somebody go from shooting micro-budget DTV silliness like Darkhunters and Hellbreeder to name-cast, well-budgeted, well-promoted theatrical releases. (Discover Jo's film history here.) And 47 Meters Down will be the biggest yet.

Seventeen years ago, the sole ‘big screen’ outing for Diagnosis (the original, longer cut of Sanitarium, without Uri Geller) was a VHS tape and a projection TV in a Manchester hotel suite. Jo’s latest will open on 16 June across 3,000 US cinema screens courtesy of Freestyle Releasing, part of Entertainment Studios. To put that in context, the last British film to get a release like that was Bridget Jones’ Baby. [In the end it was 2,270 screens - MJS]

Entertainment is putting a huge amount of money behind this release, which means they expect/hope that this will be a big hit, eclipsing last year’s The Shallows and other recent entries in the non-dumb shark movie genre.

Is 47 Meters Down a horror movie? Hell, yeah. The old IMDB lists it as ‘horror/thriller’; a recent Variety story called it “this summer’s open ocean survival horror” and it’s getting coverage on lots of horror websites. So yes, it’s a horror movie.

Is it British? By George, yes. Although it has three American stars, the film was made by a British production company. James Harris and Mark Lane were the producers and their firm is quaintly called the Tea Shop and Film Company. Bournemouth-based Outpost Effects provided the CGI sharks. Where is more British than Bournemouth?

Most of the film was shot in a water tank in England (Basildon, apparently). As The Chamber demonstrated recently (set off Korea, shot in Cardiff), once you’re underwater, your actual location on the globe is irrelevant. An English or Welsh water tank looks no different from any other. That said, the sunny bits of 47 Meters Down on the beach and on the boat were shot in the Dominican Republic. Because, you know, Basildon…

Unused DVD sleeve, from Amazon.
Slightly complicating matters is that 47 Meters Down almost went straight to video. Which is of course not the sign of a poor film (just as a theatrical release isn’t a sign of a good one, which is why Transformers sequels still play cinemas). Dimension were all set to release the film on DVD and VOD, retitled In the Deep (ironically the working title of The Shallows), via Anchor Bay on 2nd August last year. At the last moment, Entertainment offered to buy the rights and Dimension pulled the release, but not before review screeners had gone out. Which is why some people say they have seen the film already.

The IMDB also lists release dates for the Netherlands and Singapore. No word on a UK release yet. I guess it depends how well the movie does in the States.

In terms of British horror films, the over-rated The Woman in Black, which claims to be the biggest-grossing UK frightflick of all time, had a US opening weekend of $20.1M on 2,855 screens. Let’s see if Jo and his team can knock that pompous rubbish off the top spot.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Boots on the Ground - exclusive stills

My old mate Louis Melville (The Last Horror Movie, Man Who Sold the World) has sent me some exclusive stills from his new war/horror film Boots on the Ground. Plus some info. The film is now deep in post, just finishing the sound design and starting on the final sound mix. Expect a trailer next month and an exclusive first review here in due course.

Press release:
Boots on the Ground is a ground breaking British horror film, making cinema history by being the first British film to be shot entirely by its actors wearing 4k head cameras, replicating the video technology used by modern combat troops to record real-time action footage. The film mirrors the style of 1st person shooter video games and combat documentary footage seen in TV shows such as the BBC series 'Our War'. Add to this visual mix a good dose of classic chiller horror in the vein of 'Jacob's Ladder' and 'The Haunting', and what emerges is Boots On The Ground.

Hindu Kush, Afghanistan October 2014. War ends at midnight, all five British soldiers have to do is stay alive till then. After surviving a firefight the five British soldiers try to find a safe haven to sit out the rest of last night of the Afghan war. Trekking through woodland they come across a large imposing British fort dating back to the first British Afghan war of the early 19th century. On nearing the entrance to the fort they see five other British soldiers entering. With great relief they also enter the fort but find it eerily unoccupied. Where have the other British troops gone, did they really see them?

As the night unfolds and their mission is finally explained to them, they find themselves engulfed in a labyrinthine nightmare of seemingly un-combatable forces from another realm. Time itself seems to move in inexplicable ways to the point where they question their own reality. Who will stay alive till midnight, will any?

Jeezus! That;s the single most horrifying thing I've ever seen!

Wednesday 19 April 2017

British slasher Clown Kill (formerly Lock In) out in May

Three years ago I reviewed Lock In, the debut feature by Mark J Howard. It was a fun slasher about a woman trapped in an office building with a psycho dressed as a clown. The film was available on VOD via the VHX website, and also played at the 2014 Horror-on-Sea.

Lock In has re-emerged, rebranded with the more obviously exploitative title Clown Kill, and is scheduled for release on both sides of the Atlantic next month. Wild Eye Releasing put out the US disc on 9th May. Left Films release the British DVD the following week.

The British sleeve features the actual clown from this film. Dunno who that is on the US sleeve. British clowns deemed not sufficiently creepy for American audiences presumably.

One reason for the film’s revival is that lead actress Jessica Cunningham is now a reality TV star. She was on The Apprentice last year and in January she was briefly on Celebrity Big Brother. Apparently.

You can find out more about the film at or on Facebook.